I tried submitting the following article for the annual “Chicken Soup for the Soul”. I am aware it is nearly not as good enough, but for a first try, I think it is worth sharing on my website. At least just for the sake of it. For the sake that I wrote it to share with people. And for people to read it. So please enjoy!
It’s been some time since I am back from my almost 3-week getaway to China. With pressure from peers and family, I guess it is about time to start sharing my experience over the last month.
I was thinking a lot what my first post should be about, so I thought “What better than some good old Chinese signs?”. Therefore, et voilà! Continue reading “Signs that make you think”
Our first day in Beijing was quite nice actually.
Here is a photo of us arriving:
Here is the main street near our hotel. It is the one right in front of the original Forbidden City door:
And here are the back streets, near our hotel. Our hotel was located on a street called “粮食街”, which means “Junk food street”:
While waiting for our hotel room, we went to the Temple of Heaven. We walked there from the Front Door of the Forbidden City (前门). It is actually a bit far on foot, but definitely doable.
The Temple of Heaven is truly a heavenly place! Very graceful and full of respect – I don’t know if you can say that for a building, but for this one, it definitely is.
The Temple of Heaven is located in a huge park and is surrounded by this huge courtyard:
After the temple, we went back to the hotel and took a very much needed afternoon nap. Afterwards, we went out to meet my old Korean friend. We were classmates back in 5th grade and afterwards in 9th grade, after I moved with my family. I used to spend a lot of time with her and her sister, so I was very happy to learn that her sister was also in town! Needless to say, we had 10 years of catching up to do, after last seeing each other. We went to eat noodles, because that is what all happy kids love.
After a very delicious dinner, we slowly went back to the hotel, to (hopefully) have a good evening’s rest.
Goodnight Beijing, I am absolutely delighted to be here! 🙂
As you know from my last post, I am currently in China. After living here for 5 years, I am finally back (after a 10-year break!) to visit my friends, who were like family back in my teen years. This was my Christmas present from my partner, so that we can come together and I can show him where I grew up. He is obviously not a hopeless romantic 😉
After living here for 5 years, nothing much can surprise me about Chinese quality “hotels” and I honestly thought that I have a strong resistance, in general. However, I might have lived in Europe for too long, because our current hotel is truly my worst hotel-experience ever. I just need to share this, to get it out of my system but mostly just to share with people and if possible – help them avoid it! So here it goes. I won’t go much into details, because it is not necessary, but just give you a overview.
Hotel name: Beijing Courtyard Hotel (booking.com rating: 7,0)
Booked stay length: 4 nights (intended stay length: 0 – unfortunately we paid up front)
As somebody who’s lived in China, I know what it is to be a foreigner and to long for a Chinese experience. Trust me. But this is not it! It is simply not worth it. Please don’t be a stupid foreigner and don’t book this hotel. It is cheap, but it has completely Chinese standards and can ruin your whole stay.
Day 1: arrived at hotel at around 09:00 am. I have made our booking back in January, to make sure that our room is ready and waiting for us when we come after a 9-hour flight. I have contacted them previously twice about this and having learned from previously mistakes – I made sure to have my complete communication with them in Chinese. So that there is no information lost on the way and they can understand me to 100%. I requested an early check-in, knowing that it might not be possible too early. However the staff replied that we can come and if there is a room available, we can do that. Cool.
Well, the hotel staff had another plan. Even though check-in starts at 10:30 am, we were told that the person in our room has requested to checkout at 14:00 pm, so we had to wait for him to come back. Now, I honestly don’t know what I was thinking, but both me and my partner were tired, so we agreed that we could go around the city for a few hours, until we can check-in.
Well, long story short – we ended up waiting until 15:00 pm, because the guy was running a marathon (the Beijing Marathon) and was simply not picking up his phone. I completely understand that he must have been tired and something might have gone wrong during the run, however, this is why I mad emu booking back in January – so this kind of thing doesn’t happen!
Needless to say, the manager got involved. He kept on saying that they make all of their customers happy and this is why he left the guy in our room stay so long. We were additionally offered to stay in another room, however its air conditioning was leaking and you had to soak it with towels and use a fan instead. I also don’t remember seeing a window there, by the way. After long shouting and discussions in Chinese, English and German, the manager finally promised us free complementary Chinese breakfast (a.k.a. porridge). After reading the comments on booking.com, I found out that this breakfast is included in the price, just not mentioned anywhere.
After the room was settled, it was time to check-in. Meaning, to give our passports so that they hotel register us in China (pro tip: if you don’t sleep at a hotel, you need to register yourself alone at the local authorities and I don’t recommend this). After this was done, we had to pay for our stay. Okay, whatever, sure. However, the girl at the lobby wanted us to pay twice. I mean, I am no native Chinese, but I am not stupid and I trust my Chinese skills. And the girl was straight up asking us to pay once by cash and once by card! I told her it does not make sense to pay her by cash, if we already pay by card. She said we must pay by cash, because they would return us the money by card. She also kept using some weird money terms in Chinese that I completely did not get and after asking her to explain it in plain Chinese, she called the manager to tell him I did not wanna pay. This is when I got mad and realized that she was simply not competent. In the end, we obviously only paid by card. (Note to self: check our online banking to see if they took the money twice!)
In the end, we finally received the room key and that was it. I was a little confused, as I did not know which room was ours. So I naturally asked them to show me the room and the girl from the reception already wanted to poke our eyes out. She brought us to our room and I almost didn’t have the time to ask her “Is there anything we need to know about the room or the key? Do we need another key to open the main door?”. Her answer to my totally normal question was “No, your key is to open your own door only. You cannot open the other guests’ rooms with it!”. Well, LOL.
We opened our door and were happy everything was finally over and we had two beautiful beds in our room. Like all winners do, it was time for me to enjoy a nice relief in the toilet. As soon as I entered it, I realized that maybe it was a good idea to disinfect the toilet seat, you know, just in case. Well, too bad, because the toilet door was broken and I was locked inside. (I think this is the time to say, that it is my absolutely worst fear in life to be locked in a toilet!) Thankfully, a key guy came and broke the lock. And promised us that we won’t have this problem again, because he simply did not put another lock on the door. At least we have the intimacy we wanted – we can hear and smell everything going on in the bathroom now!
Day 2: got woken up at 5:00 am because of someone hammering something above our room. And trust me, I can differentiate sounds, this was plain hammering. Also, I could hear the people talking. I just don’t understand why they started at 5:00 am, only to do it for 30 minutes and then stopped.
Today was gonna be very hot, so we decided to close the window. We closed it and couldn’t open it again.
Positive side of it all – no bugs in the room!
Day 3: good news! The hammering started at 06:00 am today, so I got an extra hour of sleep. I feel like it is going to be a good day!
here are some photos from the hotel. They look nice, because I can always see the beauty within and always try to be positive about things. However, that’s just about it. Good photographer, nice photos and bad hotel.
In this post, I only shared my experience at the hotel. But that’s about it. In my next posts, I will be sharing all the amazing memories from the city and the amazing culture. So stay tuned!
Greetings from Beijing,
Last time I was in China, I was a kid and it was 2008. A lot has changed. I graduated from university and started living on my own. I found a great partner in life and he surprised me with a trip to China. He made my dream come true – go back to China to visit old friends. Now the time has finally come! Only 10 more hours to go! China, here I come and I cannot wait to see you again! 🇨🇳