Although I’d recommend everybody to go to Beijing for enough time to soak up the immense and rich culture (not only the heavy filthy air), it happens quite often that Beijing is just a quick stopover.
First thing you have to remember: BJ does not necessarily stand for “blowjob”, in this case it’s also the abbreviation of the Chinese capital. Especially important to remember if you see Chinese people wearing hoodies that claim their love for BJ.
To me, most important activities during travelling: to breathe in the culture that is built around architecture and history and of course food and drinks.
So what should you not miss out on concering those two?
Opportunities are almost limitless, Chinese history is incredibly rich with a fantastillion of emperors (scientific fact), wars and political feuds. Well, let’s face it, you’ll learn what the government wants you to see, but if you keep an open mind, you’ll be able to read between the lines. What are the sightseeing spots that should not be missed if you only have limited time? First thing already requires quite some time, going to the Great Wall. I already went on and on about this in detail, so I won’t bore you now. For me, the second place to visit is the Summer Palace, plan some time and walking, but it’ll be worth it. The Forbidden City and Tianmen Square are more tricky. I’d say it’s great to see it but as we’re talking about a short stay only here, it’s probably to be skipped better than the other two. Instead, spend your evenings going to Hou Hai, which is a lake that is surrounded by a big number of bars and restaurants where you’ll get the chance to eat typical hot pot. Not my cup of tea I have to admit, but there is a also a Chinese reggae bar (no joke) which serves delicious beer with Jägermeister. So good it makes you jump into the lake afterwards. True story, but let’s not get distracted.
I found it surprisingly delightful that Chinese happily acknowledge if you try speaking Mandarin. Good thing is that it’s way easier to speak because Mandarin has no conjugation problem, only different tones. Those are tricky but the Chinese taxi driver will have an idea if you’re talking about feeding sugar to a horse or you’re trying to give him the directions to your hotel. On this note, enjoy this poem that only consists of “shi” in all different tones, telling you a complete story about a lion-eating poet.
food and drinks.
Ok, as I already mentioned Hou Hai and bars, most essential when it comes to trying food and drinks in Beijing: try everything. Believe me, you’ll be surprised and pleased. I loved the food every single day and still miss it. Starting with a classic Kung Pao Chicken (say Gong Bao Ji Ding) but be careful, there is some ingredient in there that makes it awfully delicious but if you bite it directly, you’ll need some beer to flush it down. Speaking of which, make sure to drink Yanjing beer (beer is “pijiu” in Mandarin), holds up even to European beers. Back to food: dumplings (jiaozi) might be the greatest ones you’ll ever try in your life. Feel free to eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner, nobody will blame you. And finally, if you’re really a tough one, be a local and order Baijiu, a local liquor that the average Beijinger drinks to keep warm.
This really is the short version, if you’re planning to stay longer, feel free to contact me for more hints and also let me know if you have other things that should be on everybody’s bucket list.
Goodbye in Mandarin by the way is: Zàijiàn.