Mid-Autumn Festival 2019: Where to Get the Best Mooncakes in Beijing

Best Mooncakes in Beijing to Indulge In this Mid-Autumn Festival

China’s mid-Autumn festival marks the end of summer and the wealth and prosperity of farmers as they bring in the harvest. Sometimes called the “Moon Festival,” it is a traditional celebration held on the 15th Day of the 8th Lunar calendar month. This time, the wonderful heart-warming event falls on the 13th of September 2019!

Delicious and iconic mooncakes are usually 4 inches round, 2 inches thick and are an absolute must for Beijing visitors. The light outer crust is usually layered over a delightfully sweet filling. They are often enjoyed with tea and shared with friends and family members. If you anticipate attending the robust festival, these rank among the best places to experience a Beijing mooncake.

1: Dao Xiang Cun (稻香村)

These renowned Beijing bakeries create traditional mooncakes by adhering to recipes and pastry mastery dating back hundreds of years. With an emphasis on the mooncakes styles from centuries past, Dao Xiang Cun bakeries have earned a reputation for mooncake excellence among Beijing residents. While there are several styles created during the Mid-Autumn Festival, the five nuts mooncakes are a long-standing local favorite.

Address: 10 Dengshikou Street ( Corner Dongsi Street ) DongDan, Dongcheng Qu, Beijing 100006

How to get there: take subway line 5 to Dengshikou station  and get out of at exit A, you will find it.

2: Holiland Mooncakes

The Holiland recipe is widely considered an excellent example of the Beijing-style mooncake. The brand also ranks among the most popular across the Asian nation and the five nuts mooncake remains the most popular. This pastry marvel has been so highly refined that the crust and filling are virtually inseparable.

City-wide bakeries generally offer an assortment of mooncakes including bite-sized delicacies. Flavors include purple sweet potato, and honey peach, among others. However, those with coconut flavor in both the crust and filling remain a Beijing classic.

Address: 10 Dongdan North Main Street.

How to get there: take subway line 5 to Dongdan station, and get out of at exit A. you will see the shop.

3: Haagen-Dazs Stores

The internationally acclaimed ice cream brand has more than dabbled in the traditional Chinese mooncake. In fact, Haagen-Dazs created its own unique mooncake ice cream desserts that are popular in box sets and other presentations. For ice cream lovers enjoying the Mid-Autumn Festival, it’s essential to note that Haagen-Dazs has done its research on mooncakes before putting this annual specialty item out.

Since being introduced in 1997, the Haagen-Dazs interpretation of the Beijing mooncakes has enjoyed exponential popularity growth. They have become part of the tradition, and the Rainbow Collection offers families and friends a feast of colors and flavors including coffee, strawberry, mango, white chocolate with almond, and blackberry, among others. Haagen-Dazs stores may provide ice-filled bags to transport your mooncakes.

Address: 138 WangFuJing main street.

How to get there: take subway line 1 to Wangfujing station, and get out of at exit A, you will see the shop.

4: Wuyutai Tea Shops

Ranked among the most beloved tea shops in Beijing, Wuyutai has also created its own mooncake niche. The specialty shop offers tea-flavored mooncakes during the festival that are said to be second to none. The gourmet recipes used are reportedly traced back to Wu Xiqing, a renowned culinary artist known for infusing tea flavors into traditional cuisine.

Among the awe-inspiring flavors generally offered during the celebration are the oolong with candy fruit, dark plum with green tea, jasmine mooncake smoothie, and white rose mooncake, among others. Wuyutai has also earned a reputation for excellent mooncake assortment packages, and the well-known eateries have numerous convenient locations across Beijing. As some like to say, mooncakes are indeed Wuyutai’s cup of tea.

Address: 186 Wangfujing main street.

How to get there: take subway line 1 to Wangfujing station, and get out of at exit A, you will see the shop.

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Ultimate Guide To Traditional Chinese Clothing

An Introduction to Traditional Chinese Dress

China has a long and storied history of creating extraordinary traditional clothing. People in China began making hand-woven clothing as far back as prehistoric times, according to archeological discoveries. Chinese ingenuity also led the world in silk-woven products for more than 3,000 years, and high-quality clothing has defined traditional wear as iconic and exquisite.

Although China’s world-renowned reputation tends to be pictured in traditions that seem familiar to visitors, traditional Chinese clothing has evolved significantly. Silk-weaving and sewing methods have led the numerous ethnicities across the vast Asian nation to develop unique clothes, techniques, and styles. Simply put, there is no single traditional piece of clothing that epitomizes China’s ancient and diverse style. There are, however, historical threads that bind the culture and traditions together.

History of Chinese Clothing

Chinese clothing has been closely associated with a person’s station in life for thousands of years. Clothing designers worked diligently to build a “Kingdom of Clothes” that identified people by wealth, social status, and royalty, among other things. As the skill and manufacturing moved forward, traditional Chinese fashioned evolved as well. Many of the iconic styles are closely associated with specific dynasties, including the following.

  • Han Dynasty: During this era, people of certain stations in life were required to wear specific costumes. For example, imperial officers changed the color of their outfit based on the season. Female workers generally adorned short jackets and dresses, while men wore calf-nosed pants and aprons. Advancements in yarn-dyeing and embroidery opened the door for enhanced costume adornments.
  • Tang Dynasty: This period was marked by Chinese prosperity and the clothing ranks as, perhaps, the most iconic. Colorful women’s long flowing dresses were usually crafted from fine silk, and their elaborate hair adornments were remarkable. The fashion industry looked to other cultures and expanded on its own traditions to include items such as flowing scarves.
  • Qing Dynasty: This era ended in 1911, and the designs are closely associated with modern Chinese clothing styles. Women wore snug-fitting, sleeveless dresses that often button down the left side. The clothing designs were highly conscious of accentuating a woman’s natural grace and beauty. While the West was enjoying an expansive Renaissance, China closed its doors to outside influences and protected its traditions. Clothing signified rank, wealth, and position.
  • Modern Era: Since the 1930s, Qipao and the Longfeng Kwa dress are considered iconic and remain traditional clothing options. These close-fitting outfits began as everyday wear for slim women until the 1960s.

Although Chinese clothing traditions are embedded in history, trends, and evolving culture, there are clearly identifiable things that tie them together.

Traditional Chinese Clothing Styles

If there’s a common thread that runs through traditional Chinese clothing, it’s the way designers created streamlined base styles that could be accentuated. From the earliest fashions, China’s clothing designers crafted distinctive, yet simple, options that could be built upon. The tradition of a simple, elegant dress that could be embellished with ornamentation, embroidered, or accessorized with items such as sashes and bands runs throughout the various dynasties and ethnicities. These rank among the most recognizable clothing items.

  • Dragon Robe: The Emperor traditionally wore the dragon robe as a symbol that he represented the mythical heavenly creature. The costume features buttons down the right, a rounded collar and was often yellow.
  • Imperial Officer Uniforms: Ancient Chinese culture required government officials to wear specialized uniforms, so they could be easily identified. During the Ming Dynasty, civil servants wore the likeness of feathered creatures. Beginning with the lowest rank, civil officers were expected to wear a crane, followed by a golden pheasant, peacock, wild goose, silver pheasant, egret, purple mandarin duck, oriole, and lastly the quail.
  • Ethnic Minorities: China enjoys a wealth of diversity, and there are 54 identifiable ethnic minorities. Each values traditional clothing specific to their subculture. For example, the Mongolian and Tu ethnicities generally wore gowns that button in the front with high collars. In Tibet and Monda, collarless gowns with buttons on the side are preferred. While many traditions have evolved over the centuries, the Han Dynasty styles remain prevalent today.
  • Tang Zhuang (Chinese Suit): The traditional Chinese suit for men is a blend of the Manchu jacket dating to the Qing Dynasty and Western-influenced color.
  • Seasonal Considerations: Similar to the Western tradition of not wearing white after Labor Day, Chinese culture identifies a specific color to each season. Appropriate traditional Chinese clothing colors include green for spring, red for summer, white during autumn, and black during the winter months.
  • Weddings: Red remains the favorite color worn at Chinese weddings and is considered good luck.

In ancient China, clothing with patterns such as peonies or water lilies are generally associated with wealth, prosperity, and elegance among women. Each dynasty and ethnic minority put its fingerprint on the evolution of fashion and style in China. During the Xia Dynasty (21st — 17th century BC), black was the favored color. Whites ruled clothing during the Shang Dynasty and red during the Zhou era. Understanding traditional Chinese clothing often means recognizing the style, colors, and adornments worn during a Dynasty and by a specific person.

How to Make Traditional Chinese Clothing

Although China enjoys the diversity of more than 50 ethnic minorities with nuanced clothing, visitors often associate the Qipao dress, also known as Cheongsam, with traditional garb.

The Qipao is recognized by its high neckline the ornate clasps that fasten this silk dress. Women working in Beijing’s restaurants and other businesses that greet visitors often wear Qipao-style dresses. They are also commonly worn during ceremonies as a symbol of Chinese culture. These dresses are also generally accompanied by a colorful opera mask. Artists have been painting the accompanying masks for thousands of years in China. If you are interested in making your own Qipao dress and accompanying mask, follow these steps.

Making a Qipao Dress

  • Select a dress pattern kit from a local Beijing fabric shop or order one online.
  • Select a silk fabric and suitable zippers or buttons that match the pattern.
  • Cut out the paper pattern and pin it to your fabric.
  • Sew the cutout fabric together according to the instructions.
  • Complete the edges and topstitch by using bias tape.
  • Attach fixtures and suitable accessories.

Making a Mask

  • Purchase a ceramic mask from a Beijing shop or online resource.
  • Purchase paints and brushes specifically for ceramic surfaces.
  • Keep in mind that colors are associated with specific meanings in Chinese culture.
  • Pencil your design onto the mask
  • Paint the mask and allow it to dry overnight.

Where to Buy Traditional Chinese clothing in Beijing

Among the most prominent brands in Beijing, Gege Qipao and Mu Zhen Le Qipao can be purchased at most shopping malls. These include the Malls at Oriental Plaza, Wantong New World, and Xidan Saite Shopping Mall in Beijing, among others.

If you are interested in a custom-designed Qipao dress, or a traditional men’s Tang suit, considering visiting one of the luxury shops. A perfectly fit custom dress or suit generally takes anywhere from 24 hours to 10 days to complete. Many of the Beijing Chinese tailors who custom-design outfits can reproduce a wide range of traditional clothing options. You may want to visit several tailors and consider traditional clothing from various Dynasties before selecting the option that best suits your unique style.

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Five Words You Must Know Before Visiting China

Basic Chinese Words and Phrases for Your Next Trip to China

Mandarin Chinese is a complex language that takes years to master. If you wait to visit China until you speak fluently, you might never make it there at all. Still, it helps to learn at least a few words and phrases before you travel. Not only can key phrases make it easier to get around, they demonstrate respect for the local language and culture.

As you prepare for your adventure in China, take some time to learn the following words and phrases:

1. Ni Hao — Hello

Pronounced ‘knee how,’ this simple term is regularly used as a greeting throughout China. It is commonly associated with tourists due to its simplicity, but locals will by no means be bothered by its use — after all, it’s a friendly greeting that gets the point across quickly. For accurate pronunciation, aim to use a rising tone on ‘ni’ and a falling tone on ‘hao.’

Although casual, this greeting should prove useful in a variety of contexts during your trip. You’re welcome to use it on the street, in stores, at restaurants, and in virtually any other setting imaginable.

2. Xie Xie — Thank You

The phrase ‘xie xie’ can be used to demonstrate your gratitude in a wide range of situations. The term is pronounced “syeh syeh” with the first word starting with high intonation and dropping, while the second is typically said in a neutral tone and without strong emphasis.

3. Wo Bu Dong — I Don’t Understand

As a visitor with limited mastery of the local language, you will likely be forced to use this phrase on a regular basis. It can convey both your lack of understanding of the Chinese language and your lack of understanding of various situations or procedures. This is a simplified phrase; additional words such as ‘ting’ may be added by native speakers. As a visitor, however, your point will be taken quickly if you use this term in its simplest form.

4. Dui Bu Qi — Excuse Me

Get ready to navigate a lot of crowds as you explore China’s dense urban centers. In packed spaces, you’ll commonly hear the phrase ‘dui bu qi,’ which roughly translates to ‘excuse me.’ Don’t hesitate to use this phrase if you accidentally bump into somebody. It indicates that you do not wish to cause offense.

5. Ganbei — Cheers

If you’re fortunate to attend a Chinese gathering, you will likely hear ‘ganbei’ repeated over and over. Toasts represent a key aspect of such gatherings. Directly translated to ‘dry cup,’ the phrase ‘ganbei’ instructs party attendees to empty their glasses.

Of course, understanding the etiquette behind cheers is just as important as the term itself. The host or senior individual at the event will typically toast first. Be sure to hold your glass in your right hand — and only consume your beverage when toasting.

A little effort can go a long way as you strive to demonstrate your appreciation for the Chinese culture. Even a few simple words can demonstrate that you care. Your efforts will be well rewarded as you explore China and interact with locals.

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Get Off the Beaten Path –A Different Side To Travel

Discover Hidden Gems You Won’t Want To Miss

In his poem The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost closes by reminiscing about taking the road less traveled. There is a certain amount of ambiguity to the ending of that poem. Is the difference better, worse, or just different? Traveling the Great Wall of China is much the same. If you take the well-traveled trail you will get the same experiences everyone else has. If you decide to get off the beaten path and go the less-traveled way, the experiences will be shared by few. Will they be better? Worse? No one can know, but they will be different.

Tours Are Safe and Predictable

It is easy to get into the habit of visiting only the routine places. This is especially true when you have limited time and resources. If you are visiting a place for the first time it might be a good idea to take a packaged tour. There is nothing wrong with packaged tours and planned excursions. Tours offer good highlights and a nice introduction to a new place. If you will never return or are uncomfortable with the potential safety risks, tours are a fine way to go, safe and predictable.

When traveling out on your own, there is still the temptation to stay with the tried and true guidebook recommendations. Following a guidebook is not necessarily a bad thing; most of those places are in them for a reason. Hiring a private tour guide is sometimes a good idea. They know the area and have the flexibility to go where packaged tours can’t. Even then, you are only seeing what is known.

The Risk Is Part of the Experience

Getting off the beaten path is risky. There are no guarantees. The risk itself is part of the experience. If you want to have an experience few others will have you have to go where most others won’t. The willingness to take a chance and find unconventional places is what can make a trip unique, exciting, fulfilling. This isn’t walking out into a rain forest without being properly prepared, it is turning left where the guidebook says to go right.

Imagine driving along a highway and seeing a small sign no one else seems to care about. You exit and find yourself on a winding mountain road. You cross a one-lane bridge and round a corner to find a small beach hidden between mountain slopes.

A river flows into the ocean where waves crash against exposed rocks and travel up the river to break against the shore hundreds of yards inland. You see trees growing from near-vertical rock walls. You hike along the river bank and walk on a beach where no footprints except yours can be seen. As you enjoy the view and take in the salty air, you realize this is an experience few others will have. And it all happened because you saw a small sign and took a chance.

Getting off the beaten path isn’t about extreme adventures; they have their place and time. This is about taking a different road, following the other trail, and stepping away from the crowd.

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10 Chinese Restaurants Phrases That’ll Give You a True Taste of China

Survival Chinese Phrases For Eating Out in China

Eating out is an integral part of the Chinese travel experience. From luxury dining to hole-in-the-wall establishments, each restaurant offers a taste of the local culture. While many restaurants cater specifically to tourists, an authentic experience could be well within reach if you’re willing to navigate the language divide.

By learning a few key phrases in advance, you can streamline the process of ordering and paying for your meal while also showing your respect for local culture. The following terms and phrases will prove especially useful during your visit:

1. Nǐ Chī Fàn Le Ma

Prior to your meal, feel free to use this phrase to determine whether your companions are ready to eat out. Be careful; depending on the context, this phrase could also be interpreted as a simple “How are you?”

2. Huān Yíng

You may hear this friendly phrase as you enter a restaurant. It means “welcome” and is meant to set you and your fellow diners at ease. The term “huān” actually means “joyous.” Thus, directly translated, the entire phrase means “We are pleased to welcome you.”

3. Fú Wù Yuán

This key term means “waiter” and should be used as assertively as possible. In noisy restaurants, you may need to yell loudly for the waiter. In China, waiters actually appreciate the noise, as they want to be the first to know when you need something.

4. Wǒ Chī Sù

If you typically avoid meat, this simplified phrase will help you make your dietary restrictions known. Keep in mind, however, that some form of meat is included with nearly every meal in China — even when it’s not readily apparent.

When in doubt, aim to visit restaurants that specifically cater to vegetarian and vegan visitors. While such establishments are not yet common in China, a few can be found in big cities such as Beijing.

5. Zhè Ge Yǒu Ròu Ma

If you don’t feel entirely confident that a given dish lacks meat, you can check with this simple question, which translates to, “Does this have meat?” Again, keep in mind that what you think of as an animal product may strike the average Chinese person as meat-free. For example, seemingly meat-free meals often include chicken stock. Still, it never hurts to ask for clarification.

6. Wǒ Bù Néng Chī

Beyond preferences regarding animal products, you may be unable to eat specific ingredients due to allergies. Share your limitations with this phrase, followed by the specific ingredients you cannot consume.

7. Yǒu Méi Yǒu

The last few phrases have focused on foods that you cannot — or prefer not to — eat. If you are especially fond of a certain ingredient, however, you’re welcome to inquire whether it’s available with this phrase, which translates to “Do you have ___?”

8. Mǎi Dān

Once you finish your meal, you can use this phrase to request the bill. If you struggle to get the waiter’s attention, feel free to shout “fú wù yuán” as mentioned previously, followed by “mǎi dān” to express your intention to pay.

9. Kě Yǐ Shuā Kǎ Ma

China maintains a primarily cash-based approach to everyday payments, so you’ll want to arrive with plenty to ensure you can pay for your meal. Rural restaurants, in particular, rarely accept credit cards. Conversely, upscale establishments in tourist-heavy areas often accept or even encourage credit cards. Translated to “Do you accept credit cards?” this phrase will help you determine which form of payment is ideal in your situation.

10. Xiǎo Fèi

Tipping is not customary in China. If, however, you insist on leaving a tip in recognition of exceptional service, you can use this phrase to indicate your intentions. Directly translated, this term means “small fee.” Although kind, your gesture may prompt confusion. Tips are slightly more common at fancy restaurants in touristy areas — but definitely not expected.

Eating out in China can be a delight — especially if you arrive at local restaurants equipped with a basic knowledge of applicable terms and phrases. Your efforts to master these phrases will pay off quickly as you enjoy the best of Chinese cuisine.

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