Must-know Hacks to Enjoy the Forbidden City

During the October holidays, teeming crowds turn up at the historical site for an exotic travel experience into the Satan’s pit. For most of the Beijing residents’ going to the Forbidden City is out of question throughout the holidays. Even all through the busiest of weeks, below are some tricks that can make visiting the Forbidden City more tolerable when not pleasant.

  1. Plan for an early morning visit: The ticket sales limit is 80,000 a day. This may seem like its a lot but during special exhibitions and holidays but the possibility of the tickets selling out by early on in the afternoon is very high.

(Advanced Tip: A reservation system is available online and you can book at most 10 tickets for a group except you need to have someone who reads Chinese – or you can do so yourself – and even have a payment method like Zhifubao or Alipay.)

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  1. Skip Mao: About 90% of the tourists approach Forbidden City via Tiananmen to the south. Getting here for an exotic travel experience often requires that you pass through rather long lines to get to the security checks. In order to avoid these, use the west or east entrance. Pay the entrance fee and walk into the park to the east side. This will get you to ticketing area right outside the Forbidden City main entrance. However, you will need to queue for the museum security checks so you can go inside.
  2. Stay away from the crowded area: Most visitors follow the same route right into the center of Forbidden City. Stay away from the crowded places and rather explore the interesting parts by turning right or left. When you walk along the wall going towards the East Gate, you will come to a fascinating and quiet museum of the palace architecture. Down the stairs near the East Gate as if going back towards the courtyard you will find the Literary Flourishing Hall which is a ceramic well-curated museum.

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  3. Keep away the mid-axis: Make a point to visit Cining Gong and Shoukang Gong which was home to the emperor’s mother in 18 century. This is a functioning archaeological site which has sculpture displays that date back to more than 1,500 years. This includes terracotta soldiers loaned from Xi’an.
  4. Use an alternative exit: Officially, Forbidden City is to be exited through one way that is north-south. However, the transport options outside the northern gate are restricted to jam-packed buses and trishaw hustlers. You can, however, exit from the Donghuamen (east gate) which lets out into the quieter street which has better taxi options and is closer to the nearby subway. Should you be hungry, a division of Siji Minfu- a famous Beijing restaurant and TRB Bites are located outside the eastern gate.

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  5. Remember to carry your passport: In 2015 new policies were enacted which require you to present a type of identification for every ticket purchased. The security personnel also look for lighters since it’s not advisable smoking inside the 600-old wooden palace.

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One more last tip – always ask a local for the best time to visit China or you can always rely on us at askus@ladyredot.com. If you have been to China, come and share your stories with us!


 

KallyKally is a former Sales and Customer Service manager turned Writer and Founder of MiddleMe.net. She came from Singapore; lived in Shanghai and now calls Kuala Lumpur her home. After hanging up her corporate briefcase, she now pursue her passions – Writing, Traveling and of course, hunting for good food.

Connect with me @ Kally@ladyredot.com

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Celebrating Chinese New Year in Taiwan

Chinese New Year, one of the most important celebrations to Chinese all around the world. Whether you are in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore even in the States, you will probably be participating in some of the festive celebrations in your community.

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Background

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is the first day of the Lunar Calendar but has no specific date on the Gregorian calendar. It falls anytime between late January and early February. In 2017, it falls on the 28th of January.

Aside from being the most important holiday in Taiwan, it also is the longest, being celebrated for 15 days. The official holiday, however, only lasts for a day or two dependable on different years.

Traditions

Prayers to the Ancestors
The festival is time for the Chinese people to honour their deities, so they go to temples and pray. They also offer sacrifices to their ancestors.

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Cleaning
Days before the New Year, the locals make sure to meticulously clean their homes to welcome good luck and get rid of evil spirits. The home cleaning should not be done on New Year’s Day, however, as doing so may deflect good luck and fortune.

Red
The colour red, which symbolises joy and fortune in the Chinese tradition, is widely used during the Chinese New Year. Locals decorate their houses with red posters with Chinese sayings written on them, put up red lanterns and wear red clothing.

Flowers and Oranges
In Taiwan, plum blossom and water narcissus are also used as decorations. Plum blossom symbolises courage and hope while water narcissus symbolises good luck. Oranges symbolise luck and fortune.

Loud Firecrackers
Setting off of loud firecrackers is also done, which is believed to ward off bad luck or ill fortune. The louder the firecracker, the more auspicious it gets.

Visits to Family and Friends
The Chinese New Year happens during the winter season and is the perfect time for the locals to enjoy their break and visit their family and friends. They enjoy good food with the company of each other and even go to tourist spots during this time.

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Red envelopes
Young children receive cash in red envelopes, called Ang Bao given to them by married adults. The adults, however, do not receive anything in return, as it’s not customary to give gifts to them unless the gift comes from their employer. It will be a denomination of even numbers like $2, $6, $8 and $10. The number 4 is deem unlucky by the Chinese.

Celebrations

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Bombarding Master Han Dan
This special ceremony is held in Taitung. A man is chosen to be “Master Han Dan”, the god of wealth. He wears a pair of red pants and holds a bamboo fan to shield his face. Four followers carry him on a sedan chair. The people will then throw firecrackers at him for abundance.

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Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival
Held on the same day as the Lantern Festival, the people visit Yanshui Wu Temple for worship. Fireworks will be set off on the ground level, rather towards the sky, like thousands of mini rockets launching towards you. It is considered lucky to be hit by one of the rockets. No doubt, it is absolutely dangerous and one must be well prepared to be suited up in a safety suit and helmet.

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Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival
Held in Pingxi of New Taipei City, the lantern festival concludes the 15-day New Year celebration. The Kongming Lanterns were originally used to pass military secret messages, but are now used for festivals and celebrations. The lanterns are handcrafted using oiled rice paper and bamboo frame. The small candle inside it is then lit, and the heat it creates lifts the lantern up the sky. Most people write their wishes on the lanterns to send them to the gods above, hoping their wishes will be granted. It is truly a sight to behold.

 

If you like to experience the true local festivals, drop us an enquiry at askus@ladyredot.com for a chat on how we can help to create unforgettable memories for you.


mish

Mish worked as a travel expert, customer service specialist and a communications trainer in the past. After working for eight years straight since she graduated, she decided to give up her corporate job. She now focuses on her 4-year old son, works as a freelance writer and a real estate assistant. She is a sun-worshipper, a water baby, and an earth warrior. And oh, she’s tiny but she is an Olympic-level glutton. Let her bring your tummy around the globe! You can reach her at LinkedIn.

 

 

Chinese New Year in China

We are approaching what is called the biggest festival among the Chinese in the world. Of course, the biggest country that will be celebrating Chinese New Year is China. Do you know that a lot of offices and factories closes for at least 7 days for this big event for the Chinese workers who hasn’t seen their family for a year to travel home for Chinese New Year. It is deem unfilial not to go home with gifts during this period hence every year, China has this human migration all over the country, flocking to go home.

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History
There are a number of versions of the history of the Chinese New Year, but the most famous revolve around the mythical beast Nian. Legend says Nian is fond of threatening and eating humans, especially young children. The people, except for one old man, decided to flee and hide from the terrifying creature. The brave man decided to stay and ward off the horrifying best by using red pieces of paper and firecrackers. The people left the old man anyway. Upon their return on the next day, they were astounded to see the town was just as they left it: nothing was destroyed. The townspeople began to conclude that the old man was actually a deity who saved them and that loud noises and the colour red fend off Nian. From that day on, the people made sure to wear red clothing and decorate with red lanterns and red spring scrolls every time the New Year comes. Nian never showed his face to the people again.

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Significance
Also known as the Spring Festival, it starts on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. In 2017, it falls on January 28. It is a key public holiday for the Chinese people, and it usually lasts for about 23 days. Most shops, restaurants and business are closed for several days, but supermarkets and public transportation are available (although most of the time overcrowded). Chinese New Year is celebrated not only in Mainland China but also in Singapore, Taiwan, Macau, Hongkong, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

Aside from honouring the Chinese deities, the festival is time to celebrate their hard work all year long and to wish their families and friends a prosperous New Year, just like the non-Chinese New Year.

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Celebration
Aside from decorating their homes with red lanterns and red posters, wearing red clothing (the color red was a sort of an amulet, but now symbolizes happiness and fortune), Chinese people make sure to thoroughly clean their homes days before the New Year’s day to rid of bad luck and to welcome good luck. Families with members from different generations gather around tables to enjoy the “reunion dinner” or the New Year’s Eve dinner. They also gift gifts, usually money inside a red envelope mostly to children and seniors. Adults do not usually receive money unless it is from an employer.

Customarily, fish and dumplings (usually in Northern China) are served for the New Year’s Eve dinner. Foods like New Year Cake, Tang Yuan, Congee, and a lot of others are served depending on personal preference.

Aside from the celebration in their homes, cultural activities are also organised. These include imperial performances, ancestor worship and the famous dragon dance. They also pray in temples for bountiful fortune and luck. Firecrackers are set off; the louder they are, the better.

It is also believed that asking for money on New Year’s and cleaning the house within the first three days are huge taboos in a traditional Chinese setting. Doing so will not attract good luck.

If you are looking to travel to China during Chinese New Year or you would like to experience first hand on Chinese New Year culture in China, we can arrange for you! Just askus@ladyredot.com and we will ensure that you will savour the full experience of local festival celebration.


mish

Mish worked as a travel expert, customer service specialist and a communications trainer in the past. After working for eight years straight since she graduated, she decided to give up her corporate job. She now focuses on her 4-year old son, works as a freelance writer and a real estate assistant. She is a sun-worshipper, a water baby, and an earth warrior. And oh, she’s tiny but she is an Olympic-level glutton. Let her bring your tummy around the globe! You can reach her at LinkedIn.