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Poverty and enthusiastic leadership-worship is a clichéd image that comes to mind when most westerners think of North Korea, a country of isolation and mystery. Yet North Korean cuisine, that is also something you will never forget about North Korea once you try. You don’t need to get into the country for the specialties, here in Beijing, China’s capital, a handful of restaurants run by North Korean government serves authentic North Korean cuisine. And Pyongyang Restaurant is one of them.

Located at 78 Maizidian Jie, Chaoyang District, Pyongyang Restaurant is specially decorated and offers a large choice of North Korean food at reasonable prices, from cold noodles to bibimbap, from outstanding kimchi to hand-ground porridge, from grilled kalbi to pricy seafood, just delicious! Pyongyang Restaurant share common characteristics with other government-run North Korean restaurants in Beijing, like the training of the waitresses.

All the waitresses in Pyongyang Restaurant are selected from North Korea after two years of training in their hometown. They dress in North Korean traditional robes and shoes, pretty, gently and always with a smile on the face, forming a distinctively beautiful scene. What might surprise you is that each of the waitresses wears a leader’s badge. At night, the waitresses usually sing and perform for diners, including traditional drum dance, karaoke in Korean and Chinese, and a most-welcomed band performance.

Other Beijing’s top North Korean restaurants:

The Silver Bank
Add: 4F Zhongfu mansion, 99 Jianguo Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing (North East of Guomao Bridge)
Tel: 010 6581 8603

Haedanghwa Pyongyang Restaurant
Add: 2F, Kuntai Mansions, Chaoyangmenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Tel: 010 8561 2925

China Southern Airlines opened a direct air route linking Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and Kaohsiung, Taiwan on Mar. 12. It is the first non-stop flight from mainland’s Xinjiang to Taiwan, and claims to be the longest Cross-Strait flight with a 5.5- hour trip.

China Southern Airlines
China Southern Airlines

Mar. 12, local time in China, the charter flight CZ6053 took off from Urumqi Diwobao International Airport (URC) at 5:13 pm. Five and a half hours later, 180 passengers finished their 4,600-km travel and arrived at Kaohsiung International Airport (KHH) safely. The return flight CZ6054, carrying 143 Taiwanese passengers, departed from Kaohsiung at 11:55 pm and arrive at the destination in the early morning of Mar. 14.

From Mar. 12 to Mar. 26, China Southern Airline planned to launch three direct Urumqi-Kaohsiung flights / six round-trip flights, one flight a week on each Tuesday operated with Boeing 757 aircraft. It is definitely good news for Xinjiang and Taiwan passengers and has brought them much convenience, as they don’t need to transfer via Guangzhou or Xiamen any longer.

In addition to the newly-opened Urumqi-Kaohsiung direct flight, China Southern Airlines has launched a total of 14 direct Cross-Strait routes that connect mainland’s major cities with Taiwan. Furthermore, according to China Southern Airline’s representative, on Apr. 1, the carrier will also open the Urumqi–Taipei direct scheduled flight. Tickets booking will be soon in process.

In recent years, people from both Xinjiang and Taiwan have make great efforts to extend the two regions’ economic and tourism exchanges. With the difference in culture, history, life style, food and landscape, people from Xinjiang find Taiwan most attractive! It is predicted that nearly 30,000 Xinjiang people will travel to Taiwan in 2013.

The Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, has decided to carry on with the half-day closure every Monday afternoon for further protection, it announced on March 18, 2013.

the Forbidden City, Beijing
inside the Forbidden City

The museum will open on Mondays from 8:30 am to noon. Ticket sales will stop at 11:00 a.m, and ticket checking will stop at 11:10 am.

The official implementation of half-day closure will start on April 1, except public holidays and Mondays during the summer months of July and August. The new timetable will be applied on the following Mondays.

April 1, 8, 15, 22;
May 6, 13, 20, 27;
June 3, 17, 24;
September 2, 9, 16, 23, 30;
October 14, 21, 28;
November 4, 11, 18, 25;
December 2, 9, 16, 23, 30.

The museum launched a pilot plan to close every Monday afternoon from Jan. 1 to March 31, 2013. The closing time was used to check and renovate cultural relics and facilities.

The 55th annual Forbes Travel Guide Five & Four Star Awards released the award winners for 2013 on February 27th. Asia’s 8 luxury hotels and two spas attained Five-Star distinctions. Moreover, 24 hotels and 12 spa centers in mainland China earned Star Awards rating. Shangri-La Hotels China World Summit Wing, Beijing captured first-time Five Star Award.

Shangri-La Hotels China World Summit Wing, Beijing
Grand Premier Room of Shangri-La Hotels China World Summit Wing, Beijing

China World Summit Wing is a Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts property, located on the 80th floor of The China World Trade Centre among Beijing’s skyscrapers. The hotel offers a large sections of dining with four stylish restaurants and two bars. It has a luxury spa on the 77th floor, an indoor infinity pool on the 78th floor, and an fitness centre.

Shangri-La Hotels China World Summit Wing, Beijing
A heated indoor swimming pool with nice view

Of all the award-winners in Asia, seven Five Star rating hotels are situated in Hong Kong, five in Macau, three in Singapore, two in Shanghai and one in Beijing. As China World Summit Wing Beijing joins Forbes Travel Guide list, mainland China now boasts 3 Five Star rating hotels, together with The Peninsula Shanghai and Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund in Shanghai.

Grace Beijing is an iconic boutique hotel situated in the 798 Art District, which is originally a group of military factory buildings, and now turned into a thriving fashion and art center, as well as one of Beijing’s most popular tourist attractions. Grace Beijing itself is a sample of art works. It is a perfect combination of traditional and modern design.

service desk
(The service desk of the hotel, see the large painting behind)

Grace Beijing was run under the name of Yi house before acquired by Grace Group. Later a bistro was called Yi house to honor its origin. Grace Beijing has 30 rooms altogether, from Artist Studios to Grace Suites, all of which embody elegance and luxury.

artists' work
(artist works can be found in every corner of the retreat, discover and enjoy them!)

The hotel team is devoted to helping all guests to have a unique and extraordinary experience here, by offering various options. You can even pick your own pillow! Just remember to book in advance. There is a great rang of breakfast served in Yi House as you wish, beverage there includes coffee, tea, Champagne, smoothies, juices and so on. The gym is a place to relax and have fun.

bedroom
(One of the bedroom of the retreat, more than comfortable)

Won’t it be marvelous to stay in Grace Beijing? Here, you can experience a serene and comfortable atmosphere, escaping from the busy city life. Just linger in the amazing galleries or bookshops in the 798 Art District Beijing. You surely can not get more pleasure than savoring the fabulous works by artists.

restaurant
(At the corner of the restaurant)

Get ready to infuse the long winter months with excitement! Tourists from home and abroad have an exciting new option for a China winter trip. On July 29,2012, Starwood Hotels & Resorts opened the doors of its first dual-branded ski resort complex,the Westin Changbaishan and Sheraton Changbaishan,in China.

Starwood ski resorts
Starwood dual-branded ski resort

The Starwood resort complex are adjacent to the slopes of the Changbaishan International Resort in the northeast China’s Changbai mountain range. The ski area  features 43 ski lanes and cable cover of up to 7.1km, accommodating 8,000 skiers; and, skiers have access to both downhill and cross-country trails.

The Westin Changbaishan and Sheraton Changbaishan resorts offers more than 37,000 square feet of function, including a 13,362 square-foot ballroom.. There are six food and beverage outlets, heated indoor swimming pools and fitness centres. The two Starwood Resorts are joined by a bridge so guests can easily access either hotel. They will enjoy world-class amenities set against the backdrop of one of China’s most visually stunning mountain ranges.

Changbaishan is home to a UNESCO-listed nature reserve, alpine lakes and hot springs.Guests will enjoy downhill skiing on trails surrounded by unspoiled pine forests, as well as ice skating and ice fishing.

Hutongs in Beijing are alleys formed by lines of siheyuan, traditional courtyard residences. It reflects the culture of grassroots Beijingers and has a very special and significant position in the rich history and culture of Beijing. If you like to make your Beijing tour more perfect, a tour to the Hutong is highly recommended.

Hutong, Beijing
A wonderful glimpse into the world of yesterday in Beijing. 

Hutong, Beijing
Hutong Community (photographed by Sarina Wei in November, 2012)

Hutong,Beijing
Interested in seeing evidence of the history of Beijing, experiencing the old way of life and the traditional culture of Beijing? Then come to Hutong area with me!!

Sarina and Silvia, two travel specialists from EasyTourChina.com, had made study trips to Xi”an, Beijing, Shanghai, and Suzhuo in mid-Noverber 2012.

The Great Wall, one of the greatest wonders in the world. The Great Wall was originally built for defense and plays a significant role in China’s history. Like a gigantic dragon, it winds up and down across mountains, grasslands, plateaus and deserts, stretching thousands of miles from east to west of China.

There is an old saying said well “Until you reach the Great Wall, you’re no hero”. A wonderful tour to the Great Wall is a must for your trip to China. The famous sections of the Great Wall include the Badaling, Huanghuacheng, Mutianyu, Jiankou, Gubeikou, Jinshanling and Simatai. In all of these, I prefer to visit Mutianyu Great Wall as it is less visited and more beautiful compared with other sections.

Mutianyu Great Wall, Beijing
Mutianyu Great Wall in Autumn (Photographed by Sarina Wei in Middle November, 2012). 

Mutianyu Great Wall, Beijing
Less visited and more beautiful (Mutianyu Great Wall)

Mutianyu Great Wall, Beijing
The pride of every Chinese — Great Wall, China.

Mutianyu Great Wall, Beijing
My Soul with the Great Wall.

The 29th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival kicked off in Harbin, capital of northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province on January 5, 2013. This year, it will last to February 28th. The annual event brings a sparkling winter wonderland to the city of Harbin; and millions of tourists from all over the world brave the chilly temperatures to experience it.

The event, as one of the world’s four major ice and snow festivals, features a wide range of ice-related activities including ice sculpture competition, ice lantern, skiing, winter swimming competition, sledding, and much more. There are three main exhibition areas namely Harbin Ice and Snow World, Sun Island Scenic Area and Zhaolin Park.

Harbin Ice and Snow World
Harbin Ice and Snow World is the largest ice and snow park in the city, which is nicknamed “the Ice Disneyland”. This year, it features majestic ice castles and sculptures of fairytale characters. While the white sculptures look spectacular during the day, they are even more magical at night thanks to the bright LED lights that are embedded inside. It presents a colorful and warm aura to the icy wonderland.
Harbin Ice and Snow World

Sun Island Scenic Area
During the festival, the Sun island scenic area has been turned into a massive exhibition ground for snow sculptures in all shapes and sizes. These snow art works range from life-size human figures, animals, mythical creatures, to huge buildings of different types and styles.
Sun Island Scenic Area, Harbin

Zhaolin Park
The international ice lantern festival held here offers visitors a chance to appreciate the best ice and snow artworks in the world. When the night falls, the park becomes a glittery world with beautiful ice lanterns resplendent with different colors. Modern techniques endow the lanterns with light, sound and action.
Ice Lantern at Zhaolin Park

This tour journal was writen by Silvia, a travel specialist from EasyTourChina.com. In mid-Noverber, she had made study trips to Xi’an, Beijing, Shanghai, and Suzhou.

When I arrange Xi’an tour for my clients, the attraction I would like to put in mostly isAncient City Wallbesides Terra Cotta Warriors, and usually clients like it.

Ancient City Wall, Xian
Ancient City Wall, Xian

Ancient City Wall is the first landmark visitors will encounter in Xi’an, stretches round the old city. It’s very special among China there’s a completed and occlusive wall in city center. When I rode bicycle on the wall with very warm sunshine in Winter, I felt that it was really an enjoyment, leisure and free. Cycling on City Wall is amazing way to overlook Xi’an. On the way I saw people doing exercise in river bank parks, the railway station and Muslim quarters with ancient style house, even the Guangren Lama Temple. Most buildings inside the circle of city wall are ancient style or very short, but the outside building are very high and modern. I thought that’s like taking time boat.

Cycling on Ancient City Wall of Xian
Cycling on Ancient City Wall of Xian

Xian Ancient City Wall
Xian Ancient City Wall

The round trip cycling took around 2hrs, much less if you are not crazy interested in photos, surely we enjoy every minute.