Thursday, April 30, 2009 ;
7:14 AM
17 Apr

We asked for permission to take ds1 out of school earlier, at the same time as ds2. Then we had a quick lunch and set off for Beijing.

At the Tianjin train station, I waited for my parents who were in another cab. While waiting, my kids said the noise was deafening, so I took a short clip to share with you, the typical traffic scene here.

It was my parents' first time on the high speed train. They were surprised when it pulled into the Beijing South station so soon after they just got settled into their seats from Tianjin. It was a short and sweet journey.

It was the cab ride to Ascott Beijing that was unpleasant. We took separate cabs but both my parents and us had the address.

However, Beijing cabbies are mostly impatient and rude. Out of 10 we encountered over the 5 days there, 9 were bad tempered, foul-mouthed and impatient.

They'd shout loudly that they wouldn't take us because the places we wanted to go to were too near (even though I'd tip them). Or they'd scold my kids for uttering some sounds or moving their legs a bit more. (They're ultra sensitive about the white piece of cloth they drape over their car seats)

Or they'd claim that they don't know where the place is, and keep using vulgar language while driving.

Cab drivers in Shanghai and Tianjin are far more friendly, especially the ones in Tianjin.

Anyway so even though we were in separate cabs, both cab drivers rudely snapped that they didn't know what Ascott is (in Chinese, mind you) and both said this should be a very unpopular sleazy place such that they didn't know where it was. I mean, that was totally uncalled for. If you don't know where it is, did you need to insult the place we were going to stay? (anyway fyi, it is a 5 star super nice serviced apartment/ condotel, in a super convenient location)

So we had the Chinese address all printed out, and showed them. They still hissed and complained they had no idea where that it. They said Jianguo Road is so long, what 108B, they don't know.

I asked for a street directory, I said I can find it and point it out to the driver. He said he has no directory. I said ok, maybe you can drive along Jianguo Road, I can recognise the building, I'll point it out when we get there.

"NO!" he shouted.

Sigh, sensing we are getting nowhere, I said, ok, so how do you propose we get there? He said I have to call the hotel and get them to tell him where it is. He told me to call 114. It's apparently some kind of info service. Ok finally got through to the hotel. They spoke to him on my phone.

Finally he got us there.

Then we found out from my parents, who were already at the lobby, that their driver did not know where it is too.

Fyi, it is right in the Central Business District, where the Trade Center is.

Our stand is: it's ok if you don't know where it is, you don't need to be so rude...

Fortunately, the ambience of the lobby at Ascott and the friendly staff there at once soothed our ruffled nerves. The staff can speak so many languages, we were impressed. They spoke English to us, Chinese amongst themselves, and then when the lady picked up a call, she spoke in Japanese to the caller.

In the 2 bedroom apartment, we found a lot of friendly touches that made us feel at home, as well as a few special things that were very interesting.

This weighing scale found in the gigantic bathroom of the master bedroom is transparent, and you can see exactly how it works (turning of gears to make the needle move when we are weighing ourselves), so the kids were entertained by it for a while.

My mom loves the kitchen and so do I. The pots, pans, oven are all better than my own in Tianjin! The fridge is huge and we are able to store all our snacks and big bottles of drinks, milk and fruits in it. Cutlery, ladles, bowls, plates, everything is there.

I didn't know there was a great washing machine cum dryer there. I brought too many clothes for the 5 day stay then, could've packed less! They even had laundry powder for our use, all complimentary.

The living room, where there is a huge LCD TV. There is another in the master bedroom too. The kids immediately begun playing their card games on the dining table! My dad looks like he is stopping them. haha.

We then walked out for dinner. My dad's foot still hurts, so he couldn't walk too far, and they decided to dine at a nearby place. We surged on to find this "Shin Kong Place" that was recommended in the Beijinger that Kim lent to me.

Finally we found it, and realised it is Taiwanese owned. (We saw the flag of Singapore flown at Ascott, together with the China flag, and later realised that Ascott was founded in Singapore but has residences and properties all over the world now. We didn't know that earlier.)

Shin Kong Place is a high-end mall. There were many boutiques, but we were hungry and didn't stop to browse. We went straight to the top floor where there were restaurants like Crystal Jade, Ding ding xiang, Din Tai Fung and another Taiwanese Western restaurant. Din Tai Fung is also Taiwanese-owned, and so is Ding Ding Xiang (hotpot).

We chose Ding Ding Xiang because it is new to us, and the queue wasn't as terrifying as Din Tai Fung's!

It turned out to be a lovely meal. We had individual hotpot (i think that is a great idea, mroe hygienic) and we could order any other side dishes to cook in our own hotpot. Dh got ginseng chicken soup stock, I got bak kut teh soup stock. Everything was delicious. The kids ate rice, with soup and the stuff we cooked in the hot pot.

Oh yes, did I mention that the restaurant is beautifully decorated and the service is impeccable?? We were very impressed with their initiative and friendliness. It is so different from most other restaurants here.

At the end of the meal, both boys had complimentary peanut snow ice. It was yummy, I know cos I collected tax from them (now every time I ask them to share their goodies with me, I call it tax, haha, and they are the most willing people that I know who like taxes).

Trips out of Tianjin are always a food-grocery-snack-buying spree. There are so many things we like that are not found in Tianjin or are more expensive. So we hit the BHG supermarket at the basement of Shin Kong Place. They had those child-friendly carts so the kids had a great time helping me with the stuff I wanted to buy.

We had so much stuff to carry that we took a bus back to Ascott, instead of walking. We had to pay for our "extra" kid, even though kids are supposed to ride free. We had 2 adults, but for them, the policy is 1 free kid only. So since we had one extra, we were penalised.

Sheryl, you cannot holiday here, you'd be penalised 4 times over! :-) (Yes, my good friend gave birth to her triplets already, and with her 2 older daughters, she now has 5 kids. And her triplets had such good birth weights. The oldest was 2.6kg at birth, even larger than my singleton ds1 at birth.)

Back at Ascott, the kids had a good shower and enjoyed themselves so much on the bed, talking, laughing and sharing stories. Ahhh, this is life...

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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