Beijing street food at night market

This post will be about street food in Beijing. To be honest after previous travels in Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia it was nothing new to us. I think trying daring food is good to do once and then you can just stick to whatever is tasty.

Now what do I mean by daring food? Insects, chewy creatures of the sea, internal organs that never end up on western plates.

Street food that we love is stir-fry, fried rice and noodle dishes, meat skewers, satay, crepes/pancakes…

More on:

Huayan Monastery Datong China

Huayan Monastery, Datong, China

From Beijing we decided to Go West and visit Datong. Main attractions include Huayan Monastery, Jiulong Bi (Nine Dragon Screen), Datong Hanging Monastery (Xuankong Temple) and Yungang Caves. Check out the full post at:

Forbidden City, Pekin Beijing, China part 1 Outer City

Forbidden City Pekin Beijing China

Forbidden City – Zijin Cheng, 紫禁城; pinyin: Zǐjinchéng; literally: “Purple Forbidden City”. Also known as “The Palace Museum” (故宫博物院). Above Meridian Gate (Wu Men). From the balcony the emperor would review his armies and perform ceremonies marking the start of new calendar.

Tickets to Forbidden City Beijing China

Forbidden City is located in the center of Beijing just north from Tian’an Men Square. It’s huge. It really is. Even though I watched travel videos and pictures before we went I was surprised by its size. It really is a city within a city. We devoted one day to sightseeing it and we were able to see Outer Court, Inner Court and some of the Eastern Palaces. We didn’t get to see the Western ones.

There were crowds inside. To be able to see anything inside the building you had to seriously be good with your elbows and persistent. People would use any, even the smallest space to get ahead of you. This was mainly a problem in Outer and Inner City not so much after that.

Gate of Supreme Harmony Forbidden City ChinaGate of Supreme Harmony – used for receiving visitors, later during Qing dynasty for banquets

 gate of Supreme Harmony

Five marble bridges, symbolizing the five cardinal virtues of Confucianism (Ren, Yi, Zhi, Xin, Li), cross the Golden Water, which flows from west to east in a course designed to resemble the jade belt worn by officials.

  • Rén (仁, humaneness);
  • Yì (義, righteousness or justice);
  • Lǐ (禮, proper rite);
  • Zhì (智, knowledge);
  • Xìn (信, integrity).

Marble bridges Forbidden City Beijing China

Pairs of lions guard the entrances to the halls. The male is portrayed with a ball under his paw, while the female has a lion cub.

Chinese male lion Forbidden City Beijing China

Hall of Supreme Harmony is the larges hall in the Palace. It was used for major occasions. Inside the hall there is an ornate throne and a very ornate ceiling. Not much else besides the two.

The Hall of Supreme Harmony Forbidden City Beijing ChinaMarble Carriageway leads to the hall. The central ramp is carved with dragons chasing pearls among clouds and was reserved for the emperor.

Hall of Supreme Harmony Forbidden City Beijing China

An odd number of roof guardians, all associated with water, are supposed to protect the building from fire.

Roof guardians Forbidden City Beijing China

Forbidden City Beijing China

Gate of Supreme Harmony back view Forbidden City

Forbidden City China

Forbidden City China Beijing

Forbidden City Beijing China

Hall Doors gold plated

Emperors throne Forbidden City Pekin China

Copper and iron vats were part of the fire-fighting equipment. They were filled with water to be used to douse fires. From October to February every year, the vats were covered with quilts to prevent the water freezing, and on very cold days they would be heated by charcoal fires. The Qing Dynasty vats had two beast shaped bronze rings, a big belly and small mouth. Now it seems everyone believes that rubbing heads of those beasts brings good luck.

Bronze cauldrons Forbidden City Beijing China

Behind the Hall of Supreme Harmony there is The Hall of Middle Harmony (Zhonghe dian) and The Hall of Preserving Harmony. At the Hall of Central Harmony emperor received homage from officials in charge of ceremonial matters before he proceeded to hold court or lead ceremonies at the Hall of Supreme Harmony. The phrase ‘Central Harmony’ derives from the book of Rites in which it refers to impartial and just conduct appropriate to each situation. The hall was also used before he went to the Altar of Agriculture to ceremonially plough the earth and sow seeds every spring, as it was here that he inspected the seeds and the farming tools to be used before the ceremony.

Roof tops Forbidden City Beijing China

Forbidden City Beijing China

and then on to the Inner Court…


Great Wall of China – Badaling

Great Wall of China Badaling

Great Wall of China (万里长城) one of the most recognizable structures in the World. It was originally a series of separate sections build by individual states. Later joined together and made bigger and stronger, are now collectively referred to as the Great Wall. The wall enabled speedy communications via smoke, flares, drums, and bells, as well as allowing for the rapid transport of troops across the country. It begins in the east at Shanhaiguan in Hebei province and ends at Jiayuguan in Gansu province to the west. Its main body consists of walls, horse tracks, watch towers, and shelters on the wall, and includes fortresses and passes along the Wall.

The Great Wall of China Badaling

The day day was cold and foggy when we decided to see the Wall. We chose Badaling as it was close and there is a cable cart which brings you up close to one of the towers. I didn’t expect it to be so steep. Even though it was out of season it was still very crowded and we slowly made our way up. We couldn’t see further than 2 meters and lost hope it’s gonna change.

Great Wall China Badaling

Great Wall of China BadalingBut then it rained…

                                     … and cleared…

                                                                     …and crowds stayed behind

Great Wall of China Badaling


I have to say it’s very impressive. We stayed for two hours but could stay much longer. If you have time take the pedestrian entrance and skip the cable cart. Now imagine people actually run marathon there… uff it’s widely considered one of the world’s most challenging marathons. Imagine running here:

Badaling Great Wall

Great Wall china Badaling

Badaling China

Two weeks, China, October 2015

I’m just back from our trip to China. We left on 17th October and came back on 2nd November 2015. We wanted to see The Great Wall and Forbidden City and then decide where to go next. We ended up traveling by train to Datong (Chinese: 大同; pinyin: Dàtóng), then Pingyao (Chinese: 平遥; pinyin: Píngyáo) and finally Shanghai (Chinese: 上海市).

China trip map

We traveled mostly by train. Hard sleeper from Beijing to Datong (K43) for 104.50 Yuan. Hard sleeper again from Datong to Pingyao (K961) for 117.50 Yuan, back to Beijing (K604) for 163 Yuan and finally with bullet train from Beijing to Shanghaihongiao (G107 & G118) for 553 Yuan each way.

We always checked the online schedule and availability before buying tickets at railway station or railway agent. I really recommend Travel China Guide. You need to remember that Google is not working at the moment in China, but Bing is. Also no Facebook.

We loved the trains. They were comfortable, clean and in case of bullet train very fast. Crew always makes sure you have something to eat  or drink (yes you have to buy it) and there is free boiling water in every compartment (think instant soups and tea). We haven’t traveled so much on trains on any other trip.

High speed bullet train Beijing

Above picture of our bullet train. And it’s not 10 trains for the whole country. On every station we saw dozens of them on platforms or on the side tracks. Very impressive.

High speed bullet train China Beijing

Each one has a 1st, 2nd and business class.

Business class bullet train Beijing China

High speed bullet train from Beijing to Shanghai at 302 km/h High speed bullet train from Beijing to Shanghai at 302 km/h

And here is a short video from the hard sleeper. I was expecting it to be dirtier, packed and loud. But it was alright. I read somewhere that it’s best to take middle bunk as on the lower one people join you and sit on your bed and the top one is very warm. We asked for the middle bunk so and we spent all our journey on fold up chairs instead. For the next journey we got low bunk and nobody was trying to sit on it. Maybe cos we are “aliens” and people were keeping their distance.

Departure slip china

Anyway it is true that Chinese (not all but many) talk and eat very loudly. In train we came across a couple of passengers that lived up to our expectations. And yes it was disgusting to hear them munching, slurping, hem and haw. Yes, they do it everywhere in restaurants, trains, streets, but it’s not something that I will remember above all else. In regards to smoking. People used to be able to smoke everywhere but now government introduced smoking ban in most public areas. Still if you smoke nobody will scold you if you know where it’s acceptable.

Train from Beijing to Datong Train from Beijing to Datong

Hard sleeper middle bunk Hard sleeper middle bunk

Besides the high speed bullet trains (G) other trains are classified by the following letters: Z/T/K/L/Y/S and they run day and night.

Train types china

Within the train there are different types of seats available: hard sleeper, soft sleeper, luxury soft sleeper, hard seat, soft seat. For more information with pictures you can visit Travel China Guide.

Beijing Train Station:

Beijing South railway StationBeijing South Railway Station

Beijing South Railway Station ChinaBeijing South Railway Station

Pingyao china train ticket machine

Pingyao ticket buying machine train station

To buy a ticket you need to present your ID or passport. After the visit in China it feels like you need to show your ID on every corner. We were even checked walking down the street in Beijing. They closed the sidewalk, set up a security gate and X-Ray for bags and checked everyone who wanted to pass.

We did not use this machine to buy our tickets. We got the at the counter. Separate for foreigners. In typical communist fashion we waited forever for anyone to come and then to get served, even though nobody was queuing to the other sales assistant. she told us to wait in front of the empty one until somebody comes. We had all details written down in Chinese in my notebook so the operation went smoothly.

Pingyao K961 at 9:32 on 24/10/2015 hard sleeper three ticketsPingyao K961 at 9:32 on 24/10/2015 hard sleeper three tickets

Funny fact:

While queuing we noticed a sign next to one of the tills: “Disabled tick for Export”

You buy a ticket and it’s check at the entrance to the station (with your passport), next you go through security check (just like the one at the airport) plus personal scan, the on to waiting room. Between the waiting room and the platform the ticket is checked again, then it’s check at the entrance to the carriage and again when conductor comes to replace it with something what looks like magnetic card key. They just before your destination the same man comes back and gives you back your paper ticket and takes back the card. There is no use for the card on the train (you don’t swipe it anywhere).

Tocket card for the duration of the journey Ticket card for the duration of the journey

Paper train tickets China

Paper train tickets

Gorka Castle in Sobotka, Lower Silesia Poland

Castle Silesia PolandWe went to Poland for a wedding and got one day to get away from the city of Wroclaw and sightsee.

Gorka Castle was build as a summer residence of Wlostowic family. Then from XII to XIX it became a cloister and was systematically expanded. It is surrounded by Sleza Landscape Park.

Today the castle is being renovated and serves as a hotel. You can see the gallery here.

fire place gorka castle silesia poland

fire place gorka castle silesia poland

gorka castle silesia poland

gorka castle silesia poland

fire place gorka castle silesia poland

gorka castle silesia poland

gorka castle silesia poland

gorks castle silesia poland

Gorka Castle Silesia Poland

Cashel, Tipperary, Ireland

Cashel Castle Ireland TipperaryThe castle was being renovated when we got there. A bit disappointing considering pictures I would have liked to take however it was still magnificent and impressive. It’s called by many names among them: Rock of Cashel, St. Patrick’s Rock, Carraig Phádraig or Cashel of the Kings. It is said to be a place where St. Patrick converted Aenghus the King of Munster.

Cashel Town Council

Cashel Castle Ireland Tipperary

Cashel Tipperary Ireland

Rock of Cashel Ireland

Cashel castle cementary celtic cross

Rock of Cashel Munster Ireland

Cashel Ireland

Chapel at Cashel Castle Ireland

Chapel at cathedral Cashel Ireland

Rock of Cashel Ireland castle Munster

Cashel castle Ireland

Cashel castle Ireland

Cashel ireland

Please do visit new Facebook profile for more pictures here.

Cahir Castle

Cahir castle Ireland

We didn’t know Cahir Castle will be closed for maintenance until March 2015 so on a lovely sunny day in March we headed down to Cork and Cahir. Yes the castle was closed and the Swiss Cottage was closed. Bad luck. Both sights look amazing even if you can’t go inside.

Cahir Castle is a stronghold located on a small island on river Suir. It’s one of the biggest castles in Ireland I’ve seen.  After walking around the castle we decided to follow the trail to Swiss Cottage. It’s a nice walk leading along the river. We only got a glimpse of it through the back gate but it looks like taken out of fairy tale. Enjoy the pictures!

Cahir Castle Tipperary Ireland

Cahir Castle South Ireland

Cahir Castle Ireland

Cahir Tipperary Ireland

Cahir Park trail

Cahir Castle Ireland

Golf course Cahir Ireland

Golf course Ireland Cahir

Cahir Heritage Trail Ireland

Swiss Cottage Cahir Historic Town Walk

Swiss Cottage Cahir Ireland

Cahir Ireland scenic walk