Float. Eat. Repeat.

Thursday Travels is a weekly column featuring sights and sounds from my wanderlust adventures. Come, fly with me, and we’ll explore strange cultures, exotic eats and everything in-between.

The best part about staying at Montigo Resorts is the private infinity pool, in which we spent most of the time floating around on an inflatable donut. Although there’s nothing much to do in the resort, I still don’t have time to do everything – specifically, mastering the art of rolling in bed with a beer in hand. Otherwise, life is pretty awesome.

Beijing City Guide

As the capital of China, Beijing is a populous city with lofty aspirations. For centuries now, people all over China would flock to this city in pursuit of a better future. Sadly, its cultural and historic significance has long been undermined by the communist government. Many historic sites have since lost their grandeur, plagued by poor maintenance and lack of regulation.

HISTORIC SITES
The Great Wall of China is undoubtably the most iconic structure in China. Badaling (八达岭长城) is nearer to the city centre, which makes it more crowded. Conversely, Mutianyu (慕田峪长城) is further away, but promises better view with less tourists.

Located at the heart of Beijing, Tiananmen and the Forbidden City have witnessed the rise and fall of dynasties, and even set the backdrop in the controversial Tiananmen massacre. Unfortunately, beneath these expansive structures, most of the artefacts had been looted.

Forbidden City (故宫)
Open daily: 830am – 5pm (peak), 830am – 430pm (off-peak)
Admission fee: 60 yuan (peak), 40 yuan (off-peak)

The Ruins of Yuanmingyuan (圆明园遗址公园) was destroyed together with the Summer Palace (頤和園) by the British and French troops during the Second Opium War. We spent one day at each of these palaces. Wearing a good pair of walking shoes is advisable.

The Ruins of Yuanmingyuan (圆明园遗址公园)
Open Jan-Mar, Nov-Dec: 7am – 730pm; Apr, Sep-Oct: 7am – 830pm; May-Aug: 7am – 9pm
Admission fee ranging from 5-15 yuan are required at various entrances.

Summer Palace (和园)
北京市海淀区新建宫门路19号
Outer garden: Open 630am – 6pm (peak), 7am-5pm (off-peak)
Inner garden: Open 830am – 5pm (peak), 9am-4pm (off-peak)
Admission fee: 60 yuan (peak), 50 yuan (off-peak)

ARTS & CULTURE
Artists in China are surprisingly vocal and spunky; they are not afraid to incorporate dissenting messages into their works. 798 Art District houses numerous artists and galleries, showcasing a massive collection of art pieces. It’s nearly impossible to comb the entire area within one day, plus it’s easy to lose your way, so it pays to trace your steps and explore systematically.

798 Art District (798艺术区)
朝阳区酒仙桥路4号798艺术区
Open daily 10am – 5pm

Today Art Museum (今日美术馆)
北京市朝阳区百子湾路32号苹果社区4号楼
Open daily 10am – 5pm

For a more traditional peek into the arts and culture of China, head down to Panjiayuan Antique Market (潘家园旧货市场) and Liulichang Cultural Street (琉璃厂文化街).

Panjiayuan Antique Market (潘家园旧货市场)
北京市朝阳区华威里18号
Open Mon-Fri: 830am – 6pm, Sat-Sun: 430am – 6pm

Liulichang Cultural Street (琉璃厂文化街)
北京市宣武区南新华街
Open daily 8am – 6pm

FOOD
In Beijing, you can find various styles of Chinese cuisine originating from different parts of China. The lamb slices at Donglaishun (东来顺饭庄) were too pungent for our liking, but apparently, that’s the mark of authenticity.

For a traditional Peking Duck experience, head over to Quanjude (全聚德), with outlets all over the city. Dadong (大董烤鸭) offers a modern and atas twist, which didn’t quite impress us.

Guijie (簋街) is a popular food street lined with over 100 restaurants open until the wee hours. Although Wangfujing Night Food Street (王俯井小吃街) may be touristy, it’s a convenient stop at the heart of Beijing.

Wangfujing Night Food Street (王俯井小吃街)
北京市东城区王府井街东华门

Guijie (簋街)
北京市东城区东直门内大街
Open 24 hours daily

The city is specked with numerous tiny independent cafes, and though coffee quality may not impress, they provide sweet refuge from the hustling city crowd.

Treescape Cafe (钱粮美树馆)
北京市东城区东四北大街钱粮胡同32号
Open Tue-Sun: 11am – 830pm

Sculpting in Time (雕刻时光咖啡馆)
Outlets at various locations

SHOPS
Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷) used to be where the young and hip reigned, but commercialisation has intercepted and many shops are now selling the same touristy products. Wudaoying (五道营胡同), on the other hand, is less crowded and more interesting.

Taikoo Li Sanlitun (三里吨太古里), previously known as Sanlitun Village, offers a good mix of brands for discerning shoppers. The Sanlitun district is also filled with restaurants and bars that come alive at night.

另存为杂货店
北京市东城区五道营胡同20号
Open Tue-Sun: 12pm – 830pm

失物招领
北京市东城区国子监街42号/57号
Open daily 1030am - 8pm

单向街
北京市朝阳区朝阳北路101号楼朝阳大悦城4F-54

北京: The Opposite House

Thursday Travels is a weekly column featuring sights and sounds from my wanderlust adventures. Come, fly with me, and we’ll explore strange cultures, exotic eats and everything in-between.

Despite having cashed in all our agoda points, The Opposite House still stands as the most expensive hotel we’ve ever stayed at. My only protest: the room was so comfy that we spent half the day soaking in the deep wooden tub and flushing our travel itinerary down the pipe.

When we finally got out, the streets of Sanlitun were wide and clean, sprawling with restaurants, cafes and some of my favourite high-street labels. Altogether, it presented a very different side of Beijing, one that I actually wouldn’t mind living in.

IMG_0695_web

The Opposite House
Building 1, Taikoo Li Sanlitun North, No. 11 Sanlitun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China 100027

台北: 北投溫泉

Thursday Travels is a weekly column featuring sights and sounds from my wanderlust adventures. Come, fly with me, and we’ll explore strange cultures, exotic eats and everything in-between.

來到台灣就是要泡湯啦!我們選擇了褔泰天玥泉會館禪室湯屋,一邊是溫泉池,另一邊是冷水池,很方便。終究,我們還是不敢泡公共溫泉… …

北投褔泰天玥泉會館
台北市北投區中山路3號

Kam Leng Hotel

It was somewhat ironic, that we crossed over to the New Year at Kam Leng Hotel — a newly restored heritage hotel that dates back to 1927 — where old mosaic tiles and fading wall murals retained their nostalgic allure. With an additional top-up of $5/guest, we eased into the day with a slow breakfast at Suprette. By the way, I’m so glad to be past the age for countdowns, hah!