Thank God! I Survived in Beijing

We booked our Full Board 6 Days Tour at Panda Travel Service Inc. located in Binondo Manila. Then we decided to extend 2 days in Beijing and another 1-day extension in Shanghai.

Filipino travelers to China are required to have a visa aside from passport. The China visa should be obtained in advance before you enter China. Visas for leisure travel are quite easy to get, usually granted for a one-month stay. Panda Travel helped us process our visa application after we booked our trip to China. But you have to pay a certain amount. Panda Travel Service Inc. is a partner with China Panorama Tour Operator based in Shanghai.

Date: August 22: Tuesday
Getting There:

We took the PAL flight at 7:30 on early Tuesday morning from Manila to Beijing, China. It was a 4 hours travel. So, we arrived around 11:30am already.

This was the breakfast meal during our flight. They served us rice, sliced beef, sausage, mushrooms & broccoli, egg, cupcake, melon & grape fruits and a piece of bread. It was a simple meal but a hearty one.

is the capital city of the People's Republic of China. It is situated in the northeastern part . It has a population of 14.93 million people. In Beijing, the permanent residents are from all of the different ethnic groups such as Mongolian, Manchurian, Korean, etc. with the Han's comprising over 95% of the population in China. Mandarin Chinese is the language spoken in Beijing. The major organized religions are Daoism (or Taoism), Buddhism, Confucianism, and Islamic. The place has a continental monsoon climate commonly found in the temperate zone with four definite seasons. Summer and winter are the two longest seasons with fall and spring being the shortest. The coldest month in Beijing is January, while the hottest month is July.

We decided to take a taxicab. Problem was the language barrier with the driver. HB kept repeating the name “Tiantan Hotel” but to no avail. The driver was already shaking his head with annoyance in his voice. Until HB decided to write the name of the hotel in Chinese characters. That was the time the driver nodded. (Thank God! HB still remembers his primary and secondary years in Mandarin). Afterward, we had a 1-½ hours long ride from the airport to the hotel. And I wasn’t feeling well. Something happened. We arrived around 1pm already.

Beijing is a big city with wide roads but still there’s always traffic congestion especially on weekdays.

Note: Instead of saying “Tian-tan Ho-tel” (as Tiantan Hotel) try to say this “Tien-tan Fan-tien” that's how you say it in Mandarin.

As far as I know, the only Beijing citizens that speak English are the sellers in the market bargain shopping malls, tourist guides and some hotel employees. In Tiantan Hotel, I only met two staff in the reception area who speaks English. The rest, I communicate with them by means of simple sign language. During our “own tour” adventure, I didn't meet any taxicab drivers who speaks English. It's a little bit disappointing for a foreign traveler like me because most of us often rely on these drivers. So, if you really don’t know how to speak Mandarin, better join the group tour. That way you won’t have any problem. Or if not, if you are a little more adventurous, it is best to have the name and address written in Chinese. You can ask your receptionist / concierge or any Chinese friends of yours to write them all down and just show it to the driver.
Language barrier is really a problem. If not for HB, I'd probably be lost and I won't be able to survive in Beijing.

Beijing will be the Host City of 2008 Olympic Games, I hope there will be more English-speaking citizens who can provide better service to International visitors.

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AN ASIAN TRAVELER, Exploring Around Asia!