Beijing – Sept 2013

Who would’ve thought that I would be going to China. I mean, think about it: China was never part of my bucket list and would never thought to have a change of going there in 100 years, due to the following reasons:

1. I am super-bad in Mandarin and super-bad is an understatement (at least, I take praise that my Cantonese has improved tremendously).

2. I studied all my life in a Sekolah Kebangsaan and speak English at home, therefore has no inkling of China history and nothing from China or that part of Asia has ever interests me (only a peek of its history through ‘over-dramatized’ TVB drama/movies, and that’s Hong Kong, btw). I am highly influenced by Western culture, and

3. The horror stories of the unfriendliness of the people, toilet hygiene, and also elements of ‘fakeness’ everywhere.

Let me reiterate that if you don’t experience the country/city yourself by stepping foot there, don’t go having a bad impressions of the country from here-say. Any country/city has its pros and cons but somehow, Beijing..really impresses me a lot for a first timer in China. That’s why, perhaps, being well-traveled is important.

I told my boss I’ll opt out of the project in the US because of my looming wedding and they already dedicate another staff to be there. I was one of the staff going together with my 4 big bosses to Beijing….just because I looked Chinese! Errr….and my boss actually thought I could speak Mandarin. Hehehe…Boss kena tipu: don’t know that I am a banana! Never judge me by its cover. LOL!

The city:

City of Beijing on a weekday

City of Beijing is very modern, but here and there you’ll see a mix of old chinese gothic roofed-buildings. I was first impressed with the type of cars driven here – predominantly Volkswagen, Merz and Nissan Teana. No Kancil-small cars. I may have a early impression being in Singapore, minus the traffic jam. The traffic is bad relatively but at a similar capacity with KL. I heard it could be worse. To me, town planning in Klang Valley is lousy compared to Beijing though the latter has existed for thousands of years. There were bicycles, but it’s getting rarer according to the hoteliers there. I am amazed by Beijing’s cleanliness in general, and I was lucky there wasn’t smog problems when I was there. The subways are hyper-packed with human on rush hour (well, which country isn’t on rush hour?), but the subway is really well-connected throughout the city. I’d rather walk (if you know me, I would have ran) the whole Beijing than take public transport, but I am here for business, not leisure.

From my window

Kerry Hotel, Beijing:

I cannot be happier to describe the 5-star hotel we are staying in Beijing. Amazingly, amazingly amazingly unexpectedly AMAZING! Of course you’ll get amazing because I paid RM1200.00 per night for non-resort hotel. Boss say nvm, claim back mar :-P. Imagine, my CEO told me that there are much nicer hotels than Kerry but they particularly like the facilities here. Whadaya mean “BETTER HOTELS OUT THERE?!?!?!!” I mean, what could be better than Kerry Hotel, ah? I feel so suaku!

Kerry Hotel, Shangri La, Beijing

 From the outside, it’s like a normal building, but voila…inside the hotel is a different story. I don’t know where to start to describe it’s amazing interior and services:

Kerry Hotel is owned by Kerry Holdings, Shangri La brand….by our own Robert Kuok! Ahem, he sponsored my whole Ph.D degreeThank you, thank you. There are many Shangri-Las around, and Kerry Hotel is one of them. Service at Premier Lounge is top notch with free food and (alcoholic) drinks anytime of the day. We spend a lot of time there for breakfast, lunch and hi-tea. Swimming pool is set indoor, next to the gym and is Olympic size…with heater weiii! The gym is very huge with full equipment range and is opened 24 hours. Dressing room is also 24 hours with amazing dressing tables, sauna and jacuzzi – all 24 hours.

Best indoor swimming pool ever. 2 pools some more.
Dressing table
24 hours extensive gym.

Bed is King size and super soft with a choice of any type of pillow. Then, there’s the bathroom and toilet, ahhh….where do I begin? Fully automated toilet bowl and drys your ass some more at various drying capacities, pressure and position. Too much details, opps. I main tekan-tekan a remote control, a TV-screen pops up on my freakin’ mirror. EVERYTHING in the room is Loccitane. Kiasu as I admit I am, I grabbed back a whole lot of stuff from the bathroom into my luggage. Hello, I paid RM1200 for this place? (Protruding kiasu-ness).

Ini baru standard room….Wonder what the suite looks like?
Pressure. I went the max and something you don’t wanna try.

There’s a coffee maker for 3 different type of espresso beans. Everything in the refrigerator is free, including the alcoholic drinks. Then there’s fruits servings everyday: one of the fruits include the HUGE FRESH winter dates (mind you, not dried) that tasted like pears. Mooncake in Beijing is different skin from mooncakes from Malaysia too.

Coffee maker and a variety of espresso
Fresh winter dates and mooncake. Mooncake festival was just around the corner

The Business Lounge in hotel is like butler service, and once again jakun like me tried to absorbed all in. Free flow of alcoholic beverages. We’ve got like food prepare by a Malaysian chef just for us, as they know we needed to double check on the handling of meals (no pork). Coffee is like ‘EVERYDAY’. The hotel lent me an iPad for my use in Beijing. Woh…I cannot believe that either.

Trips elsewhere in Beijing

First time in Beijing, my colleague and I together wants to see the famous Forbidden City. But for some reason, it was ‘forbidden’ for visitors to enter that day. I mean, it hasn’t been closed for thousands of years, and when Ivy Chai arrives in Beijing, they were closed for business. WHAT ARE THE FREAKIN’ CHANCES?!!!!? I was so angry, I hated Beijing for a while. But let me tell you, the vicinity of the exterior walls (including Tiananmen) was itself an amazing sight. You don’t need to go inside the walls to know how amazing the Chinese Civilization was and is. It was immense: Willow trees, rivers of green, cool breeze, amazing architecture, the beautiful parks made me imagined the extend of its interior even more. What an eye-opener. But I must blame my freakin’ luck that the Forbidden city was forbidden to me. I will be back.

Shit! When I am here, you close door!

Tiananmen
River surrounding the exterior of the palace
I heart willow trees. The parks here are so serene, though in the city

Having not much time, we went around Beijing area by foot, but Beijing is quite a maze. We got lost. I was pretty confident about my new-found language skills until I ask about the subway in Mandarin to a young Chinese couple, but who stared at me in absurdity and to the disgrace of my chinesey slang. They replied in English. Phew!

 The Banquet:

There was this vintage old antique restaurant (blazing amazing from the external) where lunch started with an assortment of nuts, tea-time. Main course lobster, stewed lamb, la-mien, etc. It was not some regular luncheon. It was a banquet!! What can I say…I had the time of my life in Beijing. We took time off to do some shopping, but which I bought nothing. The weather in September was just right – not too cold, not too warm.

Accomplished:

1. Spoke complete sentences in Mandarin, and even gave a short speech in Mandarin (a yum seng toast) in one of the best dining experience in my life. No, I wasn’t drunk.

2. Drank good coffee everyday when I thought China is good only for its tea.

3. Ate yummy and super-cheap siew-long-pao. RM4 for 3 pieces. Comet to think of it, Din Tai Fung ones suck!

Did not accomplish (and will be back with a vengeance):

1. Peking duck. Duck was a big no-no to my colleagues, and I doubt I can finish a whole roast duck myself. And they don’t sell by plate.

2. Imperial palace/Gu Gong – the Forbidden City was closed for an event when I was there. I blame it on my luck. I am going again soon, and they may closed it again due to a terrorist attack at Tiananmen recently.

HAVE TO SAY: I ENJOYED & HEART BEIJING!

At the Gold Club Lounge at Beijing Airport…heading back to KL.

Next post: TIANJIN – luxurious food (I am getting bored of luxury :-P), yum seng, badminton Malaysia vs. China, and lots of oil. All next!

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