Beijing Travel Diary Pt. 4: Great Wall,Yuanmingyuan, Temple of Heaven, etc.

Here is the last post which covers all the remaining recommended Beijing tourist attractions! In addition to the Great Wall, Yuanmingyuan Park (Old Summer Palace), Tiantan (Temple of Heaven), and Qianmen, I also visited the Bell & Drum Tower, Hutongs, Ming tombs, and shopped at Wufujing, but I won’t be focusing on those activities.
Yuanmingyuan Park is the old summer palace which was mostly destroyed during the Anglo-French allied forces attack in 1860. The park can be split into 3 different regions – Yuanmingyuan, Wanchunyuan, and Changchunyuan gardens. Sitting by the lake in Yuanmingyuan is so peaceful and highly recommended if you have ample time on your hands.
You can see ruins here (not pictured) and lots of lotus flowers, which can be seen in the Changchunyuan garden.
The Great Wall @ Badaling
Getting to the Great Wall is honestly a struggle but a must when visiting Beijing. The best way to get there is by joining a 1-day tour, because the Great Wall is located ~1.5-2 hours away from central Beijing. I heard tourists must be wary of taxis since they often unethically drop people off mid-drive to the location.
We were dropped off near the Great Wall Museum (which is free btw), and rode a cable car to watchtower 8 ’North 8th Tower’, the highest point on the wall. Badaling is the most well-maintained region of the Great Wall, but is also very crowded. Still worth a visit, since this area contains thousands of years of history.
Tiantan (Temple of Heaven)
Tiantan is an imperial sacrificial altar where Chinese royalty worshipped their deities. Here is the ‘Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.’ Chinese royal architecture was very intentional; 4 pillars symbolizing the four seasons, 12 pillars equating to 12 months, the other 12 pillars symbolizing 12 hours 2x a day for a total of 28 pillars. In addition to the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, there’s also the ‘Imperial Vault of Heaven’ and ‘Circular Mound Altar,’ which are other important structures located in Tiantan.
Qianmen translates to front gate, and it is very centrally located near Tiananmen and famous shopping areas.
Until next time,

Beijing Travel Diary Pt. 3: Food

Hi everyone,

Here is the food segment of my Beijing Travel Series. Hope you enjoy and thanks for visiting!



Beijing Roasted Duck 
The roasted duck in Beijing is different than the ones I’d tasted growing up; duck in China has all fat removed, which is a much healthier alternative. The wraps are also thinner than the bread I am accustomed to.
Kungpao Chicken
Sweet and savory chicken, with a slight spicy tinge. It’s the closest thing to orange chicken here in the states. Kungpao chicken contains chicken, peanuts, vegetables, and chili peppers.
Mapo Tofu
Hailing from Sichuan province, Mapo tofu is spicy tofu drenched with red pepper sauce. There’s also minced beef mixed with the tofu.
Beef Noodle Soup 
Being such a noodle fanatic, I was so excited to see practically every restaurant serve beef noodle soup. The name indicates what is in it, there’s Chinese noodles, vegetables (bok choy), stewed beef, and beef broth.
Did you know Zhajiangmian (in Korean Jajangmyeon) originated in China? Zhajiangmian are noodles drenched in bean-based sauce. There’s actually an extensive Chinese-Korean history entwined with this dish: see the Facebook video below for more information
Night Markets 


Night markets are an integral part of Asian food culture. I went to the Wangfujing night market, which had different foods ranging from crab to sausages. Definitely check one out when you’re in the area!

Beijing Travel Diary Pt. 2: Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Jingshan Park, Beihai Park

Part 2 of my Beijing series is dedicated to the Tiananmen area. The Tiananmen area is the entry point into other tourist attractions, such as The Forbidden City and Jingshan Park, which are north of Tiananmen.
We spent about 30 minutes in the Tiananmen Square and visited the Tiananmen Tower. There’s also a huge and well-perserved museum called National Museum of China that has lots of Chinese artifacts. If you have a spare day, definitely visit since it’s free and informative. <Rhinocero-shaped bronze wine vessel from Western Han Dynasty: 202 BC – 8 AD>
The Forbidden City is where the Ming and Qing royalty resided during their reigns. Like the Summer Palace, there are thousands of pavilions and structures in the Forbidden City, and it is very easy to get confused with the layout. Honestly I have no idea which courts I saw or not, because pretty much everything looks the same.What I am sure of however, is that we visited the Meridian Gate and saw the surrounding buildings around this area. Look at the details of the pavilions!
Jingshan Park is only 1 yuan (15 cents!), and offers a stunning view of the Forbidden City after an uphill trek. The gardens are small but still gorgeous.
Beihai Park is another imperial garden located in central Beijing. The Nine-Dragon screen is located in Beihai Park and is still well-maintained after centuries of wear and tear.

Canyonlands Road Trip

Hi everyone! 

Over the summer, some friends and I packed our bags in a car and drove to Canyonlands National Park in Utah for a week long camping road trip! It was honestly one of the most challenging trips I’ve ever done – we hiked trails as long as 11 miles continuously for 8 hours, scaled down AND up a 1,400 foot mountain, and woke up before sunrise each day to tackle other various trails in over 100 degree heat! However, being sore, tired, and missing the comfort of my bed and shower was worth it for these spectacular, jaw-dropping views. Visiting these amazing sites has taught me to not take nature for granted and has encouraged me to appreciate the outdoors more. Take a look at these fantastic sights!



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Beijing Travel Diary Pt. 1: Summer Palace

Decided to dedicate a sole post to the Summer Palace since it is, in my humble opinion, the best thing about Beijing. The Summer Palace is a Chinese imperial park and has a great blend of historical architecture and garden landscape. The park is huge, with 743 acres of land and over 3,000 royal structures. Tickets are 60 yuan (~ $9) which include all special exhibits. Below are some of the highlights:

Kunming Lake is my favorite part about the Summer Palace. Given the ‘dragon’ boat costed 20 yuan (~$3), it was a no brainer to ride across the lake. We saw different angles of important pavilions and bridges, including the Tower of Buddhist Incense and 17-arch bridge as shown below.
Longevity Hill was the first place we trekked up. This is mainly a secluded area where all temples are located.
Suzhou Market Street (Suzhoujie) houses over 60 shops and was one of my favorite things about the park as well. It is situated at the Black lake, and the sidewalks mimic the river streets in Suzhou, China. We ate lunch near lotus leaves here! An awesome painter who focuses on Chinese paintings is also located in Suzhou Market.
Every detail is so intricate: each and every pillar is well-maintained and it is #lookupseason for every ceiling (lol).
Here are the box seats where the royal family watched theater and plays in the past.
In many cases at the Summer Palace, you can see the elderly practice Chinese calligraphy using this water dispenser brush tool. Calligraphy is a dying art, so it was nice to see lots of people practicing on the floor.
Keep your eyes peeled for future Beijing posts since I still have so much more to cover. In the meantime, check out a vlog I made of Beijing!

Beijing Travel Diary: ‘Back to the Motherland’ Video

As mentioned in a prior post, I compiled a short travel vlog documenting my 1 week experience in Beijing, China. Going back to the motherland was truthfully such a cultural shock, as the customs and pace of life are vastly different from what I was accustomed to back home. But hey, I guess this is the dilemma of most Chinese-Americans growing up here in America?

Beijing has lots of traditional architecture, having been the official capital of China since the Ming Dynasty. Most tourist attractions literally look exactly the same, namely the Forbidden City and Summer Palace, since both places were homes for the royalty in the past. See if you can spot the similarities in the video above!

Stay tuned for more blog posts about Beijing, and enjoy!








Hi everyone!

As promised, here is my Alaska post! I went on vacation with my family earlier this summer and visited the ports of Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway. We also visited Tracy Arm Fjord (first picture) and witnessed a massive glacier peeking out between two mountain tops! Alaska was very rural and had towns populating with 2,000 people or less – a stark contrast from growing up in the city! The pictures in this post are some of my favorites from the trip. Enjoy!