Lost in Translation in Hangzhou – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , November 16th, 2018

Lost in Translation in Hangzhou

“Welcome to the back!” proclaimed an English sign at the front door of a small Chinese restaurant in Hangzhou, a city in China, known for its West Lake. It was here where Marco Polo once sailed, mesmerized by its stunning beauty and declared the place in ancient times as “the most beautiful place in the world.”

Six exhausted backpackers from four countries and I, who all met in a hostel, froze for a moment in silence, as if trying to decipher one of China’s ancient, decrepit signboard. We exchanged quick glances, hoping one had a clue to share. We were pretty sure we were standing at the entrance, not the back, of the restaurant. Almost in unison, we quickly realized what the sign meant was, “Welcome back.” It’s one of those rampant translations gone wrong in Chinglish, a blend of Chinese and English.

With hunger excruciatingly creeping into our stomachs, we gave up looking for another restaurant. We’d been walking all day and we were so hungry we could eat a barrel of dumplings sans chopsticks.

Two ladies behind the reception desk smiled when we came in. One disappeared quickly to call someone from the kitchen. When we were all seated, the other waitress came with a kettle of tea and a vacuum flask of hot water. She carefully poured the hot water and tea alternately with impeccable skill. When she was done, she said something in Chinese and our jaws dropped. We understood not a single word. She looked at each one of our tired faces, hoping a single one of us could make sense of what she just said. Meeting our uncomprehending looks, she smiled sheepishly and left embarrassed.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

China Gay Travel Resources

 

Tips for Gay Chinese Travelers Visiting the USA – The Nomadic Boys

Author: , April 4th, 2018

Gay Chinese Travelers - United States - The Nomadic Boys

The USA has some of the best gay destinations in the world. Despite the bad press it has received recently, there are many pink havens here ranging from San Francisco, New York, Key West and Fire Island. We always love visiting the States and always feel very comfortable travelling here as a gay couple.

Chinese travellers visiting the US has increased exponentially over the past few years, with more and more gay Chinese travellers also choosing the US for their vacation, with companies like Cuke Travel and Blue Ribbon servicing the Chinese LGBTQ travel community.

These are our 5 tips for gay Chinese travelers visiting the USA to make their travel easier and more enjoyable.

Getting A USA Visa for Gay Chinese Travelers

Chinese travellers heading to the US will need to complete the EVUS application form beforehand. If travelling to the US as a “visitor”, you will be eligible for a tourist visa. Tourist visas are the ideal category to apply for because they are processed much quicker than other visa types – around 24 hours, and no more than 72 hours. You’re visa is then emailed to you, which saves time.

To qualify for a tourist visa, you need to state that the reason for travelling to the US is tourism, you have Chinese citizenship, and all supporting documents requested in the application form are included.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Taking a Gaycation From China

Author: , October 6th, 2017

gaycation from China

China’s LGBTI community are flocking to more rainbow-friendly cities in Asia to vacation and be free to be open with their sexuality. There are about 70 million LGBTI people living in mainland China, but because it is still taboo, many can’t live openly.

The 2016 China LGBT Community Report revealed many mainland Chinese LGBTI people are jetting off to cities such as, Bangkok, Taipei and Hong Kong to let their hair down. Enjoying the cities’ LGBTI scenes is just one reason Chinese people visit them. Many LGBTI people go to Thailand to stock up on the HIV preventative medication PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) or to have gender-affirming surgery.
Sam is a studen in Shenzhen often heads to Hong Kong to hang out with his surrogate LGBTI family.

‘The reason I keep coming back to Hong Kong is because I feel more comfortable here – like I can finally live my real life,’ he told the South China Morning Post. ‘Plus my friends and family on the mainland hardly visit, so I don’t have to be scared of being recognised. ‘Maybe in future, when I have a job and can hopefully move to Hong Kong, I might come out to them.’

By Shannon Power – Full Story at Gay Star News

China Gay Travel Resources

Gay Hong Kong for Size Queens

Author: , April 6th, 2017

gay hong kong - pixabay

In gay Hong Kong, size matters.

The city boasts five of the world’s top 30 tallest buildings, including the ICC which holds the Ritz-Carlton hotel and O-zone, the highest bar in the world on the 118th floor.

The world’s largest outdoor, seated Buddha – helpfully referred to locally as the Big Buddha – can be found on Lantau Island, just a short train and then cable car ride away from the heart of the city.

Another exciting ride can be found at the Peak Tram which is the world’s steepest tram ride, whisking you up to Victoria Peak for spectacular views over Hong Kong Harbour both day and night.

Every evening Victoria Harbour is lit up in the world’s largest permanent light and sound which illuminates all the erections straddling both sides of the water.

Full Story at Gay Star News

China Gay Travel Resources

Pink Dot is Back in Hong Kong

Author: , October 6th, 2016

Pink Dot

Over 10,000 people turned up in pink at Pink Dot Hong Kong, the city’s LGBTI festival and largest diversity event, to celebrate diversity and love equality on Sunday.

Co-organized by BigLove Alliance and Pink Alliance, and supported by Covenant of the Rainbow, the third edition of the annual event was held this year at Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Nursery Park. Organisers chose a different venue this year, as compared to the first two years at the city’s Tamar Park, in order to ‘accommodate more activities for everyone, young and old’.

This year’s event was also largely supported by various entertainers, celebrities, corporate sponsors and diplomats – and was officiated by the Equal Opportunities Commission, an independent statutory body which commissioned a study last year to look into the need for anti-discrimination legislation on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.

China Gay Travel Resources

Hangzhou & Shanghai

Author: , July 22nd, 2016

Hangzhou & Shanghai

The sun is setting…I think. I’ve arrived in Shanghai after a 15-hour flight, and I’m not sure what day it is, let alone what time of day: the permanent haze that hovers over much of China’s 3.7 million square miles masks any clues. Shanghai Pudong International Airport offers a harsh juxtaposition of the familiar and the unknown, a theme that will reappear throughout my journey to two of China’s major east coast cities.

I hop on a shuttle bus that takes me southwest from Shanghai’s city center to Hangzhou. The cities blur together along the two-hour journey (or 45 minutes by bullet train), where endless clusters of high-rise complexes blend into one another. Imagine the Vegas Strip held up to a mirror, an endless stream of towering residential buildings, outlined in neon and saturated floodlights. But as I peer out the window amid the slowly chugging traffic, closer inspection reveals a kind of post-apocalyptic urban planning to accommodate the country’s 1.3 billion inhabitants. Construction cranes pierce the skyline and it’s hard to tell whether certain projects are underway or have been abandoned midstream. China, I am soon to find out, is a country and a people of contradiction.

HANGZHOU – RIVER DEEP, MOUNTAIN HIGH

For most Westerners (including myself prior to this trip), Hangzhou may not be on your China bucket list, but consider adding a few days to your itinerary to explore a city that, at least by the standards of ear- lier centuries, was one of the most powerful ports in the world. The Sui Empire finished the Grand Canal in 609 CE, a 1,100-mile engineering feat that finally connected Hangzhou to Beijing in the north and positioned it as a vital trading post.

Hangzhou’s port eventually filled with silt in the 15th century, but skip ahead 600 years or so, and you’ll find a thriving metropolis for the new millennium. It’s now a major technology hub with Alibaba Group at its epicenter, a multi-faceted e-commerce company that holds the record for the largest IPO of all time on the New York Stock Exchange, totaling $25 billion. Put that mind-boggling figure momentarily aside, along with worries that China could conceivably crash the global economy. Hangzhou’s wonders lie in its natural beauty and deep traditions of culture and cuisine. Transcend political agendas and appreciate the region for its hidden gems that remain some of China’s greatest gifts.

By Matthew Wexler – Full Story at Passport Magazine

Carlos Melia – My Dining Recommendations in Shanghai

Author: , September 2nd, 2015

Carlos Melia in Hong Kong

From top to down and dirty, here are my top gourmet experiences in Shanghai, on both sides of the Huang Pu River. Hope you enjoy my recommendations and Bon Appetite. !!!!

Sir Elly’s Restaurant at The Peninsula Hotel Shanghai. Dinner at Shanghai’s premier destination venue and my favorite dinning experience on the Bund, followed by cocktails at the chic and happening Sir Elly’s Rooftop Bar & Terrace over looking the Oriental Tower, Pudong and the Huangpu River. Sir Elly’s Restaurant, Modern European cuisine with a French twist. Breathtaking views of the city and in our private experience, UBER romantic.

Sir Elly’s wine list offers an impressive selection of over 400 labels, ensuring that diners will find the right pairing to suit any mood or occasion. Then we moved on to the bustling Sir Elly’s Rooftop Bar & Terrace, where we had our table booked overlooking the glittering skyline of Pudong. FYI the dirty Vodka Martinis where amazing. I also did a full walk around the Peninsula Hotel Shanghai, and I must say, I was quite impressed with it.

Carlos Melia in Hong KongNext experience worth checking out, is Jin Xuan Restaurant located on the 53rd floor of the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai Pudong. Followed by after cocktails at Pundong’s hottest rooftop bar and terrace Flair. Jin Xuan showcases the very best traditional Cantonese cuisine amidst spectacular decor and superlative warm service. Chef, Daniel Wong, has been named Chinese Executive Chef at Jin Xuan for The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong, bringing more than 20 years of hands-on experience.

His authentic, yet creative, Cantonese cuisine inspires patrons from Shanghai, China and beyond. Flair, a very fashionable and cool lifestyle lounge in Shanghai serving Asian tapas and raw seafood bar, located on the 58th floor. This time on the other side of the Huangpu River in Pudong, with panoramic views of The Bund and Puxi. I also did a full walk around the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai Pudong, so do not hesitate to contact me for more information.

Ok now we are done with the fancy venues – which I LOVE – and lets move to other options. Just so you know, I like to dine like a King, but for lunches I like to go down and dirty and local. Here are two options for lunch and a great location to do the Chinese Tea Ceremony.

Carlos Melia in Hong KongTian Zi Fang Market in Puxi – which by the way I found it to be my favorite district in Shanghai, being full of local personality and feeling original to its roots, unlike modern Pudong. At this huge market you can find hundreds of options to eat on the streets or at a restaurant. There are plenty of local artisans, artist and stores in the market for you to spend at least half a day exploring. My options here were: some Chicken and vegetarian Baozi first – Chinese steamed buns, followed by one of my absolute favorite Korean dishes, Bibimbap.

Next stops – on the way to my final destination at the Confusius Temple – was to enjoy the street food along the area of Wen Miao. All I can say is… this was noodle soups galore. No place in particular, just walk around and risk it to your favorite food car or pseudo restaurant. Call me crazy, but I love food street specially in Asian countries like China, Thailand and specially India. Yes I have paid the price, but this food is well worth a stomach flu.

Final stop was the Shanghai Confucian Temple, where we did a lovely Chinese Tea Experience – and shopping ha ha ha. Shanghai Confucian Temple, also known as Wen Miao Temple. is an ancient temple and was built to pay homage to Confucius. It is the main temple of Confucius in Shanghai, and is similar to the renowned temples as the original Temple of Confucius in his hometown Qufu,

End of my gourmet journey in Shanghai, heading back to my hotel in Pudong, the Four Season Hotel Pudong to chill and relax enjoying the panoramic views from my room.

By Carlos Melia – Full Story at the Carlos Melia Blog | China Gay Travel Resources

Carlos Melia – Two Days in Hangzhou and the Beautiful West Lake District

Author: , August 24th, 2015

Carlos Melia

Our short visit to Hangzhou, also known as the West Lake, was rather short but marvelous. We came from Shanghai ( over an hour ride by speed train ). One of eastern China’s natural jewels, the 650-hectare (1,600-acre) lake is surrounded by a lush green shoreline, with views of majestic mountains, ancient temples, traditional pagodas and graceful bridges.

Our visit consisted on a lovely private tour of the West Lake Park + Visit to the Lingyin Temple – biggest Buddhist temple in China + Panoramic walk and views from atop the Peak Mountain – highest mountain in Hangzhou – and visit to the Lingshun Temple + Lunch and site inspection of the lovely Amanfayun by Aman Resorts + Some shopping at the main commercial center + A fantastic stay at my favorite Four Seasons property in China, the Fours Seasons West Lake.

First stop was, over a private tour, at the gorgeous West Lake. It is like visiting the world’s largest traditional Chinese garden, with ancient temples, pagodas and delicate bridges. Hangzhou and particularly the West Lake, UNESCO World Heritage Site, are considered one of China’s most famous and beautiful destinations. West Lake has influenced poets and painters throughout Chinese history for its natural beauty and historic relics, and it has also been among the most important sources of inspiration for Chinese garden designers in China, Japan and Korea.

We came to visit the Fayun Village, invited by the Amanfayun Resort by Aman Resort – following our previous experience at the Aman Summer Palace in Beijing – where we spent half day touring around the many highlights, like the Lingyin Temple – biggest Buddhist temple in China. Panoramic walk – pretty long and steep by the way, atop the Peak Mountain – highest mountain in Hangzhou – and visit to the Lingshun Temple.

Carlos MeliaLiterally translated as Temple of the Soul’s Retreat, Lingyin Temple, located next to the Amanfayun Resort, is one of the largest and wealthiest Buddhist temples in China, and contains numerous pagodas and Budddhist grottoes.

Our panoramic walk, atop the Peak Mountain – Feilai Feng. Of course once on top, we realized we could have taken in full comfort, one of their cable cars… ha ha ha… but honestly our option was much more enjoyable.

Next stop was lunch at the Steam House Restaurant at the lovely Amanfayun resort. Nestled in a valley near West Lake on the west fringes of Hangzhou, Amanfayun is surrounded by ancient temples, bamboo forests and terraced tea fields, a world away from urban life. Discoveries await throughout the peaceful resort as well as the region beyond, whether it is a morning prayer session with Buddhist monks, a soothing nature walk or a visit to a neighbouring tea plantation. We tried some local small dishes and a fantastic steam fish dish. After that we followed the General Manager of the property on a full site inspection of the resort.

Carlos MeliaNext and last stop, before heading to our hotel for the night, was a walk along the main Chinese Market of the West Lake District. Lots of local shops, medicine houses, tea stores among many others. Was quite interesting to mingle with the locals, although I would have expect this to be more driven to tourists. Here we found our own Pixiu which we brought back to the United States with us. Pixiu is a Chinese mythical hybrid creature considered to be a very powerful protector to practitioners of Feng Shui. It resembles a mix of a dragon and a lion.

Final stop for the rest of our stay in the West Lake District, was the beautiful, peaceful and relaxing Four Seasons Hangzhou. A tranquil enclave woven with ponds, streams, swans and lagoons. Once we got to the resort, we never left till our time to head back to the train station, to head back to Shanghai. Our breakfast, lunch and dinner was outdoors at the many restaurants around the property. Infinity pond overlooking the West Lake. Imperial style indoor pool.

Off we went back to Hangzhou Railway Station, to take our train back to Shanghai, to continue our journey in China. And now that I am back, after visiting Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, I must say that the West Lake, together with the Summer Palace in Beijing, both rank top on my choice to return.

By Carlos Melia – Full Story at the Carlos Melia Blog | China Gay Travel Resources

Carlos Melia – Do’s and Don’ts When Dining in Hong Kong

Author: , July 23rd, 2015

Carlos Melia - Hong Kong

DOs and DON’Ts Dinning Options in Hong Kong, based on our own experience. Because in this city, amazing panoramic views are not enough to make it work. To include Tin Lung Heen by The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong . Man Wah by Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong and Hutong by the Aqua Restaurant Group. I have been to Hong Kong before, so this list only reflects the dining experiences of my last trip. Learn which made the cut and which was a total disaster… Check out also my post on my favorite Lunch options in Hong Kong.

As we arrived to Hong Kong on our first night, be were staying at a gorgeous suite at The Landmark Hotel by Mandarin Oriental. Just around the corner from their Hong Kong flagship hotel the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, where I have stayed before during previous visits. For our first dinning experience, I chose Man Wah Traditional One-Michelin Cantonese Restaurant.

Carlos Melia - Hong KonhI will rank Man Wah as my second best choice of my trip. Located on the 25th floor, this Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant serves exquisite local and regional specialties. Often referred to as Hong Kong’s most beautiful dining space. With walls adorned by original paintings on silk, and lacquered enamel and gold-plated ceiling lamps fashioned to resemble birdcages, Man Wah’s design is as celebrated as the menu.

Visit for dinner and enjoy your meal against a backdrop of sparkling city lights or stop by at lunchtime for dim sum dishes that are the talk of the city. Man Wah’s atmospheric decor and panoramic views of Victoria Harbour and the Hong Kong skyline provide the perfect setting for wonderfully delicious cuisine. Award-winning signature dishes include such delights as steamed fillet of spotted garoupa with crispy ginger, crabmeat and egg white sauce, and Wok fried fillet of sole with black bean sauce.

The room is indeed strikingly beautiful. Now my only comment is that over the years, so many new restaurants have established in Hong Kong, offering quite striking panoramic views of Victoria Harbor and Hong Kong’s skyline. Man Wah’s views are not the main feature of the restaurant at all.

My choices for the night along a local white wine from the Qingdao region, were: First: Shrimp wonton noodles, supreme broth. Second: Steamed grouper fillet, crispy ginger, crabmeat and egg white. I also shared a bit of my partner’s dish, the Fried rice, abalone, lotus leaf. And for dessert: Chilled mango cream, sago, pomelo.

After dinner we enjoyed a cocktail at the M Bar and off we went back to our suite, since we were rather exhausted after flying all the way from New York. Note that the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, counts with other nine food and beverage outlet, among which I would highly recommend the stunning two-Michelin starred restaurant, Pierre by Pierre Gagnaire. Now we spend so much time in France, that my natural choice over Pierre, was their Cantonese option, and I was VERY happy with my choice.

The Gourmet DISAPPOINTMENT was our dinner at Hutong by Aqua Restaurant Group, on top of the One Pekin Tower in Kowloon, Tsim Tsa Shui. It was not quite what I expected, I mean everything was wrong. Very touristy, loud, weird crowd… And when the Chef came out to juggle the noodles for the crow and people were standing up to take photos, that was the end of it.

Lovely views of Hong Kong bay, I give them that.. but not enough for us to stay for dinner. So we cancelled our booking and left. Note to myself: Do Not recommend Hutong Restaurant. As we exited, but did a brief stop at Aqua, at the 29th Floor of the same tower, to at least enjoy the Hong Kong Skyline over a Dirty Martini, and not have our entire evening ruined. This was not my first time at Aqua, but indeed will be the last.

On our last night, we moved hotels. This time we were staying at the Four Seasons Hong Kong, with lovely views over the Victoria Harbor and Kowloon Island. Funny enough, from my own room, I was able to glimpse into our next gourmet experience, to happen at the top floor of the ICC Tower, at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong. This hotel, has a particular place in my heart. Four years ago, I came to visit it while it was still in construction, being among the first VIRTUOSO Travel Advisors in the world to preview it.

I was happy to find out that my friend and colleague Gloria Ip, was still working there, so we made a date to enjoy a lovely dinner all together at Tin Lung Heen Restaurant. So as the sunset took over Hong Kong, we jumped on the Star Ferry and crossed on a panoramic sail, to Kowloon.

This was indeed my TOP dining experience on my latest visit to Hong Kong. THANK YOU Gloria Ip for making us feel like Royalty. At Tin Lung Heen, we Experience our six-course Traditional Cantonese degustation menu, showcasing the brilliant presentation and overall culinary excellence that have earned Tin Lung Heen the distinction of two Michelin stars. Chef Paul Lau Ping Lui is regarded as one of the top Cantonese chefs in Hong Kong. Set in a sleek modern space, with 360-panoramic views of Hong Kong that blends traditional Chinese design elements with modern lines and colours, the two Michelin star restaurant, Tin Lung Heen, presents refined authentic Cantonese cuisine at its best.

Embark on a sumptuous journey at 420m meters above sea level. Positioned on 118/F of the hotel, Ozone invites you to indulge in signature cocktails and exotic selection of Asian tapas, while enjoying DJ beats and the captivating vistas of the city and Victoria Harbour. Our host had booked the VIP Section of the bar for us, so we joined her for a few drinks.

But I must say I was quite intrigued to visit their Presidential Suite, of which I have heard wonders, so off we continued to that. The Ritz-Carlton Victoria Harbor Suite. I must say, it is one of the most spectacular and sumptuous suites I have seen in the last few years.

So there you go my raking based on my own gourmet experience on my recent three nights stay in Hong Kong of the DOs and DONTs Dinning Experiences when in Hong Kong.

By Carlos Melia – Full Story at the Carlos Melia Blog | China Gay Travel Resources

Carlos Melia – Exploring the Many Layers of Beijing

Author: , July 13th, 2015

Beijing - Carlos Melia

A complete log in photos and text of my full day exploring the many layers of Beijing to include a morning at the Lama Temple + Hutongs + Tea Ceremony at the Bell Tower. Lunch at Zijin Mansion restaurant at the new Waldorf Astoria Beijing. Afternoon at the Beihai Park + Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City. Afternoon Tea back at my hotel Raffles Beijing. Later visit to the Temple of Heaven.

Traditional dinner and Pekin Duck experience at Cantonese restaurant Huang Ting at the Peninsula Beijing. And finally some non-traditional snacks at the pedestrian night street market and bazaar of Wangfujing, before calling the day back at my suite at the Raffles Beijing, to enjoy my last cup of tea and off to bed, happy knowing that I have managed to experience and see the many layers of Beijing.

Early morning began right after breakfast at my hotel – the Gran Dame of Beijing – the Raffles Beijing. My private guide picked me up and my day began.

First stop of the morning, was a private half day tour of the surroundings of the Forbidden City, hosted by Abercrombie & Kent China. The tour included stops and visits to the Lama Temple, Hutongs and the Bell Tower with a private tea ceremony.

Beijing - Carlos MeliaNext, we moved to the iconic Hutongs. A side of Beijing you must explore. Hutongs are a type of narrow alleys or streets, commonly associated with northern Chinese cities. most prominently Beijing. Alleys formed by lines of siheyuan – traditional courtyard residences. Nowadays almost 25% of Beijing’s population reside in them. Beijing is divided in 6-rings, surrounding it epicenter, the Royal Forbidden City. Hutongs are mainly located in the second ring. A mix of middle/low class love there. Some areas are becoming rather trendy and modern, and I would not be surprise to find on my next visit a sort of Hutong SOHO district.

At the very end of the road from the hutong in Dongcheng District, we run into our next destination and landmark, the Bell Tower, were a lovely surprise was awaiting for me. They were originally used as musical instruments in China. Afterward, however, they were used for telling time. Playing an important role in helping people live and work regularly when there was no other means to keep track of the time. The surprise, was my own private tea ceremony and degustation, which lasted approximately 30 to 45 minutes, with a very lovely and funny local host. This was my second Tea Ceremony while in China – first was in Shanghai at the Confucius Temple. The tea ceremony at the Bell Tower, despite being very entertaining, felt a but touristy and geared towards selling the merchandise at the very end of the ceremony. Just so you are prepare and don’t feel as uncomfortable as I felt at the very end.

After this, my morning tour by Abercrombie & Kent came to an end, and my guide took me to the main gates of the Forbidden City to finish his guide.

Since I have visited already the Forbidden City, I decided to just explore the surroundings, walking by the parks, following the walls. I started to get a bit peckish … ha ha ha … so it was the perfect time for lunch, specially since I had already made fabulous plans for it.

For lunch I was hosted and invited by the Waldorf Astoria Beijing, in Wangfujing, to come for a walk-around the property follower by lunch at their signature Chinese restaurant Zijin Mansion. I must say that this property caught my full attention, and I would rank it as my TOP 03 favorite Beijing city hotels. It is the only hotel in the city to offer a proper Hutong courtyard experience, with two villas located just across the main building. As for the lunch, was a degustation menu prepared specially for us.

Time to hit the road again. There is so much to see and Beijing is such a massive city. Next stop was the Beihai Park.

At the Beihai Park, you will find the so known White Pagoda. Beihai – meaning Northern Sea – Park was an imperial garden and now a public park located to the northwest of the Forbidden City in Beijing. First built in the 11th century, it is among the largest of all Chinese gardens and contains numerous historically important structures, palaces, and temples. At the center of the park is an island called Jade Flower Island – highest point is 32 meters, where the White Pagoda seats. Kublai Khan received Marco Polo. At the suggestion of a famous Tibetan lama, Emperor Shunzhi, the first emperor of the Qing Dynasty agreed to build a Tibetan pagoda to show his belief in Buddhism and his desire for the unification of Chinese ethnic groups.

Beijing - Carlos MeliaNext on my itinerary was the Opera of Beijing, or better known as the National Center of Performing Arts. Located over the main Chang’an Avenue and steps away from Tiananmen Square. It literally looks like an UFO has landed over a mirror of water over the epicenter of Beijing. Local people also refer to this building at the giant egg. And after that along the same avenue, is Tiananmen Square and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong and the National Museum of China.

At 3 O’Clock Sharp, I walked back to my hotel the Raffles Beijing, for a very special event. I was hosting to friends from New York, who happened to be in Beijing at the same time as me, for one of my favorite experiences ” High Tea”. And where better to do so, that in China and at a Raffles Hotel, right ?

A brief break plus wardrobe change and off I went again to burn all the calories of my High Tea. This time, my next destination for the afternoon was the Temple of Heaven. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. It has been regarded as a Daoist temple. The surrounding park is quite extensive, consisting of playgrounds, exercise and game areas. These facilities are well used by adults, particularly in the morning, for choral shows, ethnic dances, and other presentations.

Time for dinner. This time hosted by the Peninsula Hotel Beijing. Began with a short walk-around the property, which was indeed quite short, since the entire hotel is under, a well deserved, full renovation, which will be completed by early 2017 (note that the hotel remains open, while the renovation takes place). I was lucky to see the mockup rooms, but unfortunately no photos were allowed.

All I can say is that the look and feel, will be pretty similar to their sister property the Peninsula Hotel Paris. After my site inspection, I was hosted to my first Peking Duck gourmet experience, at their signature Cantonese style restaurant Huang Ting, among many other local delights, ordered to the table. I mean, Chinese people do know well how to create a lovely spread. As for the Pekin Duck, it was so delicious and it melted in my mouth. Mind I am not a duck eater, but this was quite on my liking.

After a lovely dinner at the Peninsula Hotel Beijing, I decided to walk back to my hotel, and make a quick stop at the buzzing pedestrian street Night Bazaar and Food Market of Wangfujing. This wasn’t that quiet nor traditional. And YES !!!! I did try the scorpions and water beetles on skewers, and I must say, they were quite tasteful and very crunchy. BTW these two were the safest options, among seahorses, centipedes, sheep’s various body parts, snakes and a whole selection of insects on a stick to your liking.

After traditional dinner, followed by a non (so) traditional one, and a long and amazing day exploring the many layers of Beijing, I headed back to my hotel, the Raffles Beijing, to enjoy a nice cup of Puer Tea and off to bed.

By Carlos Melia – Full Story at the Carlos Melia Blog | China Gay Travel Resources