Tianjin to Beijing International Airport (PEK)

After nearly a year living in Tianjin we are still exploring the best way to get up to Beijing for a flight.

As far as we are aware the 3 main options are:

Private car

Cost: 600 RMB (one way)

Travel time: 1 hour 40 min (off peak), 2 – 2 hours 30 minutes (peak, depending on traffic)

Positives: door to door service, ease of taking luggage) air conditioned vehicle, friendly driver (a wave at the terminal). Return journey is ideal after a long flight.

Negatives: price, very high in comparison to other options and price has risen 100 since we arrived this year.

Bus

Cost: 80 RMB (one way, per person)

Travel time: 2 – 2 hours 30 minutes depending on traffic. Information and timetable can be found here: Tianjin to PEK bus details

Positives: cost, dropped directly at the terminal

Negatives: travel time can be long and frustrating stuck in traffic

Train

Bullet Train to Beijing/Subway line 4 (3 stops to Xuanwumen), transfer at line 2 (8 stops to Dongzhimen), Board Airport Express (Terminal 3, followed by Terminal 2)

Cost: 54.5 + 2 + 25 = 81.5 RMB (one way, per person)

Travel time: 2 hours 15 minutes from Tianjin Zhan to Terminal 2

Positives: cost, not restricted to bus timetable (last bus is 18:30), subway trains are very frequent

Negatives: subway is always very busy, however at peak times it can be unbearable, some would say dangerous; not ideal for traveling with luggage, weather (very hot and humid in the summertime)

 

Today we tried out the bullet train/subway/airport express as we are traveling with little luggage and had a late flight. It was ok but not overly enjoyable. I think the bus is generally the best option depending on the time of your flight. We generally opt for a money saving choice on the way out but almost always indulge in being collected by Mr Fu. It is nice to be met at arrivals and whisked back to your doorstep within a couple of hours.

Happy travels!

-Mr & Mrs T

In Search of……

When we moved into our apartment we decided that we only wanted it to be partially furnished, we asked the landlord to provide only a bed and a TV.  This was mostly as we would rather have our cat damage our own property rather than anyone else’s, as well as just wanting to really make it our own.  That said we have been doing a lot of shopping in the last few weeks.  And as we are getting a bit older and starting to think it would be good if the things we buy last a bit longer it has not been a one-stop Ikea shop to fill this place, though today we hit the jackpot there!  We have often discounted the rugs at as Ikea as we thought they were too expensive to be from Ikea.  Today we had a long look at them and found a few that we really liked (and all were more affordable than the Muji rug we have been pining after).  We decided to wait on it, but then as we passed though the ‘As Is’ department, we saw the rug we had liked for 60% off, all due to a small sticker and a few creases.  In the spirit of saving money we went for it and are so pleased!  It fits in the budget and leaves a bit extra for our dining table and chairs.

In Tianjin there are two choices for furniture (as far as we know, please comment if you know of other places!): Ikea and Macalline.  Macalline being 5 floors of anything you could ever want when building or furnishing a home.  It can be a bit overwhelming as it is so big (with many of the same pieces repeated again and again), but we were lucky to find a sofa and chair that we really love.   Besides simply trying to find the right furniture we are weighing in the cost.

So we extended our search to Beijing, just looking the internet there was nothing that jumped out, but I kept coming across Gao Bei Dian.  It is quite a way out from the city centre but definitely worth the trip.  The 500m walk from the subway station was less than convincing as all that could be seen were car showrooms and construction sites, we were worried we had wasted a day in the sweltering summer heat, until we stumbled upon our first furniture shop.  Which just happened to have a table we had been looking at online!  We found all sorts of shops: beautiful showrooms with antiques and modern pieces, tiny spaces with tables piled a top each other, and small boutiques with elegant displays.  It seems as though we had found the physcial stores for all the TaoBao shops we have been browsing the last few months. Despite finding what we had originally wanted we are now plagued with having to choose between several fantastic choices, and we are even considering the money saving option of an Ikea table.

Besides simply trying to find the right furniture we are weighing in the cost.  We recognise that unique, quality furniture is going to have a higher price tag, however we are trying to be sensible and not break the bank.  The last two days we have walked over 37,000 steps in search of… hopefully ten days on the beach can help us come to a decision.

 – Mr and Mrs T

From Winky to China: Day 5

Our second day in Beijing we headed out on a mini tour, we had booked a bus to see three major sights. We were pleasantly surprised when we were collected by a mini bus and told it would be just the three of us on the tour!   Our guide Gary was energetic, knowledgeable and spoke great English. Summer Palace was our first stop and I think for all of us it was the highlight of the day. Having no prior knowledge of what we would be seeing, it really surprised and impressed us. The beautiful lake, tons of greenery and lots of history were great to see. It is a place we will surely visit again, but perhaps not in 34 degree heat!

Next up, the not so great part of orgainsed tours, a mandatory stop at a ‘silk factory.’ Although I had my ‘I’m not going to buy any of this rubbish’ face on I did really enjoy the presentation on silk worms and how silk is formed, as I had no idea. It did make me appreciate the higher cost of silk. And as much as I didn’t want to ‘give in’ I did buy a small silk cushion that unfolds into a small blanket.

From there it was on to The Forbidden City, a visit that has intimidated us on several trips to Beijing. It was busy as ever but we were so thankful to have Gary to guide us, as without him I think it would have been a lot of aimless wandering. Again, a beautiful, fascinating place that I am sure we will visit again. Following here we stopped at a pearl shop, no purchases this time! Then we were on to a humble Chinese lunch of noodles before going to the Temple of Heaven.

This was another location that we didn’t know much about and were pleasantly surprised. It was less busy than the first two sights, and it felt much calmer and peaceful. By this point we were feeling a bit fatigued and didn’t spend as much time as we could have. Our final stop was a Tea House, which was really interesting and tasty but the salesgirl was not impressed when we weren’t willing to buy any tea!

Gary delivered stories, facts and history, which have really peaked my interest in learning more about Chinese culture. The pictures below will really speak for themselves; we were so lucky for a beautiful day with blue skies and sunshine!

We were lucky to get the first available train back to Tianjin. We popped into the St Regis for a quick dinner and then home to recharge after our long day. (We needed it after 23,000+ steps, that is over 15.4km walking in one day!)

-Mrs T

From Winky to China: Day 4

Today we were back up to Beijing for two days of adventure. Our first stop was the 798 Art district. Although it took us over an hour to drive 10 miles to get there, it was one of our nicest days of sightseeing. 798 is already one of our favourite parts of Beijing, this visit we were able to see a bit more and found a delicious Japanese restaurant for lunch.

We took a short rest in our hotel and were out for our first meal of Peking Duck. We dined at Duck de Chine and were overwhelmingly impressed. The atmosphere and the service were top notch and of course the duck, was fantastic. They carved the duck tableside and along with a delicious lemon chicken dish and a few others, we were pleasantly full. We even tried the complementary red bean ice, it is a traditional Chinese pudding that we have seen on menus many times but never have been brave enough to try. It tasted good, just a bit strange on our Western palate to be eating beans for desert.

After dinner we were off to Sanlitun to visit one of our favourite cocktail bars Janes and Hooch. We were just out of the taxi when Mr T’s trusty Havaiana decided to break! We thought, ‘lucky for us, we are directly across from YaShow!’ Unfortunately it had closed just a short ten minutes before. He was forced to buy a pair of flip flops off the street (that were too small!), for more money than they were worth, and then after some convincing got some trainers from the Puma shop. An unexpected part of our evening but something I am sure we will laugh about for a long time. As always the drinks and atmosphere at Janes and Hooch was great but we kept it to one drink as we had an early start and a long day ahead of us on Friday.

-Mrs T