One night in Beijing
It’s actually Eight nights in Beijing, the capital city of China, its Chinese character is written as 北京. As the name suggested, Beijing is the Northern capital of China, align with its southern counterpart Nanjing 南京, which is the Southern capital in the country. There is a long history on where is the exact location of the Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western capital of China. Find out more in 五京制.
After a long haul 8 hours flight, I finally reached my
Late night taxi means paying through your nose. Especially when part (almost the whole) of the highway from Beijing International Airport to the city center is under construction, as they are resurfacing the road for a very important meeting held in the city a week later. Which means, roadblocks and jam all the way. It took us almost two hours to reach the hotel from the airport, settling down at 3 am in the morning.
Beijing is a city built surrounding the Forbidden Palace, and its subways form a loop line around the palace. That means staying anywhere around the palace will definitely save your traveling time. Here is a map of what Beijing city center looks like, where the palace stands.
History of Hutongs
During the Ming and Qing Dynasty, the last 2 dynasties before China become the Republic of China, the next generation built more and more houses around and inside the huge courtyard. One courtyard consist of dozens of small houses/rooms: room for the husband and wife, room for the parent, room for second wife, third wife, fourth wife, room for their sons and daughters, room for the uncles and their wives, room for the other related relatives/unrelated relatives, room for the guest, room for the servants, room for various purposes, room for study, room for keeping all the drawings, room for accounting, various kitchens, and gardens that comes in all sizes. Since then, Hutong has become private pathways within the bungalow/mansion. Some hutong was previously part of the palace working area, for instance, clothes hutong, winery hutong, porcelain hutong, palace guard hutong etc.
Once owned by the wealthy and powerful royals and ministers, most of the courtyards
I have chosen a hotel on the right side (west side) of the palace and inside a Hutong, Hotel 161 Wangfujing. The hotel entrance is decorated with Chinese lantern and drawings of their world heritage structures.
The hotel also offers coffee and breakfast for those who love to enjoy breakfast before heading out visiting. The price is fairly reasonable for an aromatic brewed coffee.
Quan Ju De Peking Duck 全聚德北京烤鸭
We started our first day by heading out to Wangfujing 王府井 main street for the famous Peking Roasted Duck 全聚德 Quan Ju De. The restaurant offers 3 or 4 ways to taste the best out of the Peking roasted duck.
- Duck skin dip in sugar – the skin of the duck neck is the least fats and most crispy part.
- Wrap in steamed thin layer Chinese pancake – first lay the meat on the pancake, with a few strains of welsh onion and carrot on top, and a wipe of Peking Duck special sauce to complete the taste, then wrap it as Subway does.
- Just dip it in the sauce – duck meat is one of the most difficult meat to handle because the bird has a much more heavy scent than chicken meat. A mixture of herbs is stuffed into the duck before roasting it to remove the scent and this recipe has been passed down through generations. So a roast duck is ready to be eaten plain, or just dip it into the special sweet sauce.
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