Saturday, November 3, 2012

I Met Mr. Giant Panda in Beijing Zoo (北京动物园 Pinyin)

I first saw panda in Year 2006 when I went to The Ocean Park in Hong Kong.  It was so lovely to see this ever-shy mammal in the world.  I learned later that Panda originated in China and had been imported for breeding in other parts of the world.  Is this the reason why there is a movie, "Kung Fu Panda"?

So on our Day 2 in Beijing, we were up to be kids again and explored the zoological park of Beijing and scheduled to be transformed back into ladies as we set to shop in the afternoon.
at the entrance of Beijing Zoo
Our wake-up call is at 6AM so we left the inn at 8AM and proceed to Yonghegong Station entrance to Beijing Zoo. We took Line 2 first and get off in Xizhimen Station for our transfer to Line 4. You should be aware of the end to end station of the Line station, otherwise, you will be going to the opposite direction. For Beijing Zoo, you should check if the line is going to Bagou/Longbeicun. From Xizhimen, Beijing Zoo Station is just one station away. We took Exit A as instructed and just followed the group of families with kids as we surely knew they were bound to the zoo too. =)

At the entrance of Beijing Zoo
Since we only have three hours to spend in the zoo so that we can maximize the other attractions of Beijing, we prioritized the main areas of our interests.  This downloaded map from Travel China Guide helped us organized our stay in the zoo.

Panda Overload
We first went to the East part of the zoo to see the Giant Panda, Big Cats and Bear area, the Lion and the Tiger, and some of what the zoo labeled as "Australian" and "American" animals are located.  We spared North part where the Hipo, Elephant and Beijing Aquarium were located.

Next, we walked towards the West Area where we were able to see Giraffe, Golden Monkey, some Aviary and the Flamingo and Deer. We tried to see some penguins but unfortunately the place was closed to visitors.

More than the animals in the zoo, I did not expect that the park would be beautiful because of the flowers abundantly blooming there.

We walked towards the Southwest Gate for our next destination, Beijing Clothing Wholesale Market 动物园服装批发市场.  But, of course, we still managed to get some group photos.

I must have mistaken being a kid in the zoo, I was still a lady that I am.  I had fun having shots solo with the beautiful backdrop! It was a fine day at the zoo.

Important information about Beijing Zoo:

Ticket Prices:
  • Entrance Fee (excluding the panda's house): CNY 15 (Apr. 1 to Oct. 31); CNY 10 (Nov. 1 to the next Mar.31)
  • Combo Ticket (including the panda's house): CNY 20 (Apr. 1 to Oct. 31); CNY 15 (Nov. 1 to the next Mar.31)
  • Cruise Boat Combo Ticket (including the panda's house and the boat): CNY 40 (Apr. 1 to Oct. 31); CNY 35 (Nov. 1 to the next Mar.31)
  • Aquarium Combo Ticket (including entrance fee, the panda's house and the aquarium): CNY 130 (Apr. 1 to Oct. 31); CNY 120 (Nov. 1 to the next Mar.31)

* Free of charge for kids lower than 1.2 meters.

Opening Hours:
Zoo: 7:30 - 18:00 (Apr. 1 to Oct. 31); 7:30 - 17:00 (Nov. 1 to the next Mar.31)
Aquarium: 9:00 - 17:30 (Apr. 1 to Oct. 31); 10:00 - 16:30 (Nov. 1 to the next Mar.31)

Getting There:

Via Subway:
Subway Line 4: get off at Dong Wu Yuan Station, get out of the station from Exit A (northwest exit), and you'll find the south gate.

Via Bus:
Take bus no.27, 45, 105, 107, 111, 206, 209, 319, 334, 347, 360, 362, 534, 632, 634, 697, 714, 808, 814, 特4, Yuntong 104, Yuntong 105, Yuntong 106 or Yuntong 205 and get off at Dong Wu Yuan Station.

It's Spring in Summer Palace ( 颐和园 Yi Je Huan)

Who'd think that you can feel Spring in a Summer Palace?

After spending half of the day in Great Wall of China, we took Bus 980 back to the city to the next destination in our itinerary for Day 1 : Summer Palace ( 颐和园 Yi Je Huan).

Named as the largest imperial park in China and has been recognized as "The Museum of Royal Gardens", Summer Palace is located at Yiheyuan (Summer Palace) Road, Haidian District (northwest of Beijing City).  It is also recognized as one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites declared being "a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design". Mainly dominated by Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake covering 2.9 sg kms, three quarters of Summer Palace is water.

From Great Wall of China, we arrived nearly three in the afternoon in the bus terminal in Beijing. We have the list of buses that will pass by Summer Palace but we don't have any idea where these buses pass by so we were left with one option, that is, to take the subway.

By subwaySubway Line 4: get off at Beigongmen Station (Beigongmen means the North Palace Gate); or get off at Xiyuan Station, get out of the station from Exit C2 (southwest exit) and walk west.
By busTake bus 209, 330, 331, 332, 346, 394, 683, 690, 696, 718, 801, 808, or 826 and get off at Yiheyuan Station.

Take bus 469 or 539 and get off at Yiheyuan West Palace Gate Station.

Take bus 209, 319, 320, 331, 332, 333(内), 333(外), 394, 432, 438, 498, 628, 664, 718, 801, 826, 特6, Yuntong 106, Yuntong 114, or Yuntong 118 and get off at Yiheyuanlu Dongkou Station (The Eastern End of Yiheyuan Road).

Take bus 303, 331, 346, 375, 384, 393, 498, 634, 683, 696, 697, 718, 801, 808, 特5 or 特10 and get off at Yiheyuan North Palace Gate Station.

Take bus 74, 374, 437 or 952 and get off at Xin Jian Gong Men (Yiheyuan New Palace Gate) Station.

Travel China Guide has this directions in English and Chinese characters and advised to be printed which the tourist can show to locals, if needed.

From Dongzhimen Station, we get off at Beigongmen Station and got out of Exit C2 (Southwest exit) and walked west.  We just walked along the Gongmenqian Street until we found the signage going to the Summer Palace.

We paid entrance fee of CYN 20.  There is a map sold at CYN10 so you can be fully guided how to maximize your tour inside the Summer Palace. But we were too tired to go around the palace and opted not to buy a map anymore. Instead, we just walked and walked and had some few stops to enjoy the sceneries surrounding the place.  With aching soles and very tired legs from the hiking adventure in the Great Wall of China, we only had so much energy to sustain.

Enjoying our first taste of ice cream that sounds like "Jing-min-er" while taking a rest in the midst of sleepy mid-afternoon air
Summer Palace is divided into four parts with its famous landmarks:
1. Court Area (East Palace Gate, Hall of Jade Ripples, Hall of Benevolence and Longetivity, Yiyun House, Hall of Virtue and Harmony, and, Hall of Joyful Longetivity)
2. Front-Hill Area (Long Gallery, Baoyun Pavillion, Hall of Utmost Blessing, Hall of Dispeling Clouds, Through the Wonderland, Tower of Buddhist Incense and Hall of Sea Wisdom)
3. Lake Area (Causeway, Nanhu Island, Kunming Lake, Bronze Ox, Back Lane and Wanzihe, Seventeen-Arch Bridge and Marble Boat)
4. Rear-Hill Area (Four Great Regions, Garden of Harmonious Interests, Suzhou Market Street)

We spent much of our time at the Court Area (which is at the East Palace Gate entrance) and the Lake Area where we had lots of "striking a pose" moments, just sitting down enjoying the scenery and the varieties of activities (families, students on a field trip, flock of tourists organized in a tour, couples and some groups like us) in Kunming Lake.  

Court Area
In the Court Area, that is where we had a taste of the sugar-coated haw in stick. It's yummy!

We enjoyed the view at Kunming Lake.  It was mid-afternoon and with the sun and the cool breeze of Spring, we all felt idle to go on walking. 

Kunming Lake
For a time, we stopped walking along the stretch of the lake, and just enjoyed eating ice cream and people watching.
the long stretch along Kunming Lake
After taking some rest, we continued walking, searching for the Marble Boat.  The walk took almost an hour as we had more stops striking a pose while enjoying the view as the sun was about to set.

along the stretch of Kunming Lake
With Summer Palace being recognized as "The Museum of Royal Parks", we found more of Chinese architectures that depict China's history, culture and tradition.

Stopping near the harbor where rentals for water bikes and floating boats can be found, we enjoyed the sunset with our jump shots instead.

 As we walked towards the exit of Summer Palace, we saw this Chinese man having the solitude of his life fishing under the bridge. 

To wrap-up my trip to Summer Palace, it was a place that I think is best to idly sit down, people watch, or just get the ambiance and beauty of the place ignite the writer in you. At the end of the day, you'll surely complete one good story.   It's also best place to jog or brisk walk in the morning, stroll a bit towards mid-afternoon and ride your bike in the late afternoon. 
at the other end of Seventeen Arch Bridge
It was an enjoyable place to end our first day in Beijing.  I climbed the Great Wall of China admiring the beauty surrounding Mutianyu with its bountiful flowers that only bloom in Spring, I ended up the day walking along the long stretch of Kunming Lake thankful for the opportunity to see the other side of my world.