Friday, January 30, 2009

The Forbidden City

After the visit to the People's Hall, our next destination was just within walking distance, which was the famed Forbidden City. When I was young, I thought that Forbidden City was really forbidden to all, and I was always curious why there were movies filmed in Forbidden City if it was forbidden. Silly ignorant girl huh?

The afternoon turned out to be a windy one, which was not good news! The temperature was already 0C, add in the wind factor, it was chilling to the max. I was having trouble feeling my feet and fingers at one point. Look at this picture taken at the entrance to the Forbidden City, the sun was shining directly at my face so I had to squint. Even though the sun was direct, it was still freezingly cold. Oh thankfully the sun there did not burn my skin or make my skin dark. :)

Posing at the entrance

Just to prove that the temperature was indeed 0C or less, here is the picture of the river which was frozen! One could literally walk on the river but it would be very slippery.

Frozen river

Entering the Forbidden city brought me back to memories of watching period shows with the Imperial palace as the set. The unmistakable building came into sight that it was so surreal experiencing it.

Forbidden city

To be frank, there were so many similar looking buildings in the Forbidden City that I could not differentiate them. This definitely has got to do with the fact that I don't read Chinese. The good news is, I managed to learn a few extra words of Chinese after my trip to Beijing, just like the name of this building below. :)

Tai He Men

And who's to argue the grandeur of this pair of big red Chinese doors? Made me look like a dwarf standing next to it.

Big red door

Since it was winter, there were not that many visitors to the Forbidden City.


Look at the long staircase one has to climb to go up. I wonder whether the emperor had to walk up the stairs himself or whether he was carried up.


See this big bronze-gold pot situated outside the building? That was actually a fire-fighting equipment in the good old days. It functioned to store water used to douse fire. During winter, the pot would be warmed with burning wood underneath, just to prevent the water from freezing.

Fire-fighting equipment

Here is another building in the Forbidden City.

Another building

And as usual, it came with a throne.


Angry beast in gold

There were also plenty of gazebos scattered around the garden, just like the one below. I believe this would be the place where the concubines spent most of their time in eh?


According to Liew, this long path is a famous set in movies.

Famous long path

There was another building within the Forbidden City where they displayed the treasures from the days of yore. We had to pay another 10 or 20 yuan for entrance.

Treasures, clockwise from top left: Jade bracelet, diamond earrings, Emperor's crown, jade thumb ring

After the visit, we spent most of our time camwhoring around the area, because Liew was a photography fan. The pictures below were taken by him and his trusty FinePix S5.

witch and mom

I like this picture a lot. It has the charm of an old building with shadows and sunlight all in one.

Old and peeling wall



resting at the gazebo


By the time we left the Forbidden City, it was already almost 3pm, and it was freezing cold. I still remember my feet and fingers were all numb at this point of time and I could drink hot boiling water without any problems. My next destination was the famous Zar Jiang noodles from Beijing. Yum!

Monday, January 26, 2009

My Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner 2009!

So I'm finally back at my home sweet hometown in Kampar! Mom and dad have done a wonderful job decorating our house into a parade of redness that exudes the Chinese New Year charm. Oh I love home!

Decorations at home

And who could forget that this is the year of the golden ox with such a big red display of it in the living hall?

The customary Golden Ox for 2009!

Mandarin oranges! Simply a must during Chinese New Year, for good wealth!

Mandarin oranges

And the best part? The reunion dinner on Chinese New Year's eve! This is the gathering not to be missed by everybody! Relatives and cousins from afar would come back and gather here to have the home-made fabu-licious dinner by my dearest grandmother. Check out the brilliant and dishes she made!

The classic steamed chicken that was also offered to the ancestors during prayers earlier in the day.

Steamed chicken

Abalone and green peas!

Abalone with green peas

Ah my favourite prawns! No one else makes prawns the way my grandma does. They're fantastic!

Stir-fried big prawns

Yee Sang! Best invention ever created for the Chinese New Year, I'd say. We bought ours from a restaurant called Kam Ling in Kampar, which by the way, serves the best yee sang. If you're ever in Kampar during the Chinese New Year, please please, get yee sang from Kam Ling. You'll never regret it!

Yee Sang from Kam Ling Restaurant

A snapshot of our reunion dinner that night! Of course the food was not the only highlight of the night, it was also the annual reunion of family and relatives, the catching up, the gossiping, everything that made Chinese New Year all the more merry.

Our reunion dinner

Happy Chinese New Year everyone!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gong Xi Fa Cai

As the greetings go, may the year of Ox bring nothing but prosperity and good health to everybody! Happy Chinese "Niu" Year! This is the time where we could eat and eat without feeling guilty, by the way. *LOL*


Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Great Hall of the People, Beijing

After a warm and comfortable sleep at night in the room fully-equipped with heater, I awoke to the fragrant smell of home-cooked rice noodles in my hostess' house. The appearance looked nothing but simple but the bowl of noodles was extremely filling. I had it at 9am and it could last me until 3pm, in the cold cold winter!

Home-cooked noodles

Our morning agenda was to visit the Great Hall of the People located near the Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. The Great Hall is the political hub of Beijing where national conferences are held. It is also home of the National People's Congress. Built in September 1959, the construction of Great Hall of People took only 10 months in total despite its massive construction, which is unprecedented in the architect history.

The security in the building was really tight and no bags were allowed inside the building. We had to keep our bags (with a fee) at the bag depository counter located outside the East Gate of the Great Hall. This was the same place to go to purchase the entrance ticket, at the price of RMB30 (RM15). Before you could enter, there were also strict security scans at the entrance.

Ticket & depository counters

Again, I was impressed with the massive architecture of the giant building. Every corner of the building was built with great detail, with such great patience.

Great Hall of the People

Standing on the stairs of the Great Hall, you could look across the street and see the Tiananmen Square with the national flag already raised.

Flag has been raised!

Luckily for us, during our visit, the place was rather empty, since it was an off-peak season. We almost had the entire hall to ourselves!

Entrance hall

Row of seats

There was actually a guide within the building that was giving explanations on the significance of this place, but it was only conducted in Mandarin. For a Mandarin-blind person like me, it wasn't much of a use, so I just proceeded to explore the building on my own.

The grand main hall

witch at the entrance

Nothing could separate Chinese culture from paintings, I suppose, which explained the many beautiful paintings that were decorating the interior of this building.

witch with painting

There were also halls named after the provinces and autonomous regions (hence the name Great Hall). Thirty-two provinces together with two autonomous regions each owns its hall, having its unique characteristics of the province. We only managed to visit certain halls since some of the halls were not accessible.

Yunnan hall

Halfway visiting the halls, we were shown to the main auditorium which was gigantic! According to Wikipedia, the Great Auditorium has a volume of 90,000 cubic meters, seats 3,693 in the lower auditorium, 3,515 in the balcony, 2,518 in the gallery and 300 to 500 on the dais. That's a total of almost 10,000 in full capacity!

Main Auditorium

Outside of the main auditorium were several large frames of poetry, which, again, meant nothing to me as a Chinese illiterate. :(


I was lucky to spot another group of guards marching past me during my visit. Only then I realized that Beijing guys are really tall! I was just standing very close to them when they marched past and I noticed that all of them were at least 5 feet 10 or above. If you know how tall I am, you'd believe my judgment. :)

Look out! Marching guards

This was the most beautiful and the largest painting that I saw in this building. It was portraying the greatness of the Great Wall of China.

Prettiest painting in the building

More halls to visit after that...

Guangdong hall

Another painting

The sun rise

Shanghai hall was the most boring of all, I wonder why. It paled in comparison to all the other halls.

Shanghai hall

We also visited the State Banquet Hall, which was a wonder of its own. The State Banquet Hall with an area of 7,000 square meters can entertain 7,000 guests, and up to 5,000 people can dine at one time.

Banquet hall

More halls along the corridor.

Beijing hall

Spotted this weird rock formation thing.

Rock formation

There is nothing spicy from the appearance of the Sichuan hall.

Sichuan hall

We're not allowed to touch any of the paintings.

Yet another painting

There you have it. A virtual tour of the many halls inside the Great Hall of the People. There are many more architecture wonders to be explored in the city of Beijing alone! Stay tuned!