Sometimes I envy those who took trips without any planning and hesitation. It is just so brave, courageous and resolute and they are definitely the kind who follow their hearts to do things. In contrast, I myself, am one of those who think about things for longer than you can imagine before making the decision. So…I decided to do something differently. I grabbed my bag and digital camera and went ahead to Tianjin…alone.
Arrival in Tianjin and then tour around Ancient Culture Street, Tianjin Eye, Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts, Wanghailou Church, Italian Style Street, Liberation Bridge
The minute I decided to take this trip, I bought the round-way train tickets from the ticket office in case I’d change the plan later. As a matter of fact, there is no need to buy the tickets in advance because there are too many trains between Beijing and Tianjin everyday. It is quite convenient and easy to get the ticket. Then I booked the hotel there. Like that, I was on my way to my first solo trip.
I got to the Beijing South Station very early in the morning. Bought a breakfast from KFC and waited for the train. The train was clean, comfortable and fast. I didn’t even have the time to sleep for a while. It took about only half an hour. After getting off the train, I asked a few people about where the bus stop is. I got on a bus and got off at the Ancient Culture Street stop. For your information, most of the buses here charge only 1rmb or 1.5rmb. You may need to prepare enough change. From there, my walking tour began. The main tourist attractions in Tianjin are not far away from each other, so this is possible if you are not afraid of tiredness.
The Ancient Culture Street is a pedestrian mall, offering all kinds of delicious snacks, interesting handicrafts and great souvenirs. Many shops here are named like ancient Chinese shops with the Chinese character “堂” (Tang, meaning “hall”). There is a Tian Hou (Goddess) Palace here. Well, I was more interested in the famous shops like Yang Liuqing New Year Paintings, Niren Zhang Painted Sculptures, Wei’s Kites, Liu’s Engraved Bricks and the Qiaoxiang Pavilion which mainly sells cloisonné, lacquer, Chinese knots, jade items, pearls and many other traditional crafts.
Past through a bridge after getting out of the Ancient Culture Street, you may see the Tianjin Eye along the riverside. It is a giant Ferris wheel. Its uniqueness lies in that it is constructed on a viaduct bridge. Looking at it from far away, you may see a ring standing on the bridge. The fare for one circle ride on this giant Ferris wheel was 70rmb. I didn’t go for it because it was during the day. There wasn’t much to see at daytime. While if it is during the evening, you may see the colorful night views. Besides, I am a bit afraid of heights, so I had to give it up.
Here at Tianjin Eye, I heard clear murmurs of Buddhist sutras. So I walked down the road. A Buddhist temple came into view after I passed through a small market. It was the Great Mercy Monastery (Da Bei Hong Yuan in Chinese). As far as I know, it is the biggest Buddhist monastery in Tianjin. There were stalls selling all kinds of things related to worship. I also smelt a familiar fragrance. That is from the sandalwood.
The buildings in Tianjin are quite special. You never know what they are used for. When walking along the road, I was surprised quite a few times by the real usages of some buildings. To tell the truth, it is really painful for me to describe places’ exact positions because I myself have no sense of direction. Phew…
Okay, let’s get down to business. Walking down the road, I saw the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts. The gate was quite impressive, so I thought that probably I could see a lot of handsome boys or pretty girls here. But to my great disappointment, there was none. I think this city is quite suitable for learning architecture for the buildings are just too beautiful.
After a few turns onward, I arrived at the Wanghailou Church. It was under restoration then so I couldn’t get in. Well, I was really exhausted from such a long time walking. The Italian Style Street is actually not far away from here, but I could barely go any further on foot. So…I took the bus.
The Italian Style Street had much to offer with its unique architecture and relaxing atmosphere. It deserves your spending of some time. Take it slowly and you will love it. Later, I had a short visit of the Fifth Avenue of Tianjin (or Wudadao Sightseeing Street). There were carriages for tourists to ride on and have a sightseeing there, but I couldn’t find the place where I could buy the ticket. My last destination was the Tianjin Liberation Bridge (Jiefang Bridge).
After that, I went to the Gee Tai Hotel and checked in. Got the room card and unpacked my stuff. Then I went out for dinner at the Nanshi Cuisine Street. Yet I didn’t know why there were few people eating there and the food was not much. I was the only customer in a certain restaurant. It’s probably because I went there too late in the evening. Anyway, I ordered a Tomato and Egg Soup and six Go Believe Stuffed Buns (Goubuli Bao Zi) and quickly finished my meal. That was really weird. I planned to enjoy a cross talk show at the Celebrity Tea House (Mingliu Tea House) but decided to go back to hotel at the terrifying thought of walking back to hotel at midnight. Of course, I went back to hotel by bus.
A light rail ride to Tangku (Tang Gu), Foreign Commodities Market, Bund Park in Binhai District, Fifth Avenue of Tianjin, Celebrity Tea House, China House (Porcelain House), Tianjin Station
I woke up at 7 o’clock in the morning, which was very unusual for me. Was I too excited? Anyway I did a quick wash and checked out. Another day’s tour began.
You must have a try of the Pancake Rolled With Yau Char Kwai (Jian Bing Guo Zi) if you ever come to Tianjin. This is the local specialty. There was a stall selling this outside the hotel I stayed. It tasted quite yummy. On my way to the bus stop, I saw many people lining in queue for another stall’s Pancake Rolled With Yau Char Kwai. I bought another one in the expectation that this would be much more yummy because clearly there were much more people there. It was a green one and turned out to be not so delicious. I preferred the former one. I checked the route to Tangku on the website and then got on a bus. The light rail was very nice. Out of the rail, I bought a cup of coffee and a hamburger from a KFC close to the rail station. I was more thirsty than hungry. There I noticed a few people were eating that kind of green pancake. It seemed that the locals preferred the green one.
Then I got to the Foreign Commodities Market. Many shops selling motorcycles, bicycles were around. The main street was offering various kinds of shrimp sauce. I wandered for a while without much interest.
A bus ride took me to the Bund Park in Binhai District. I sat on a bench for a very long time, with the wind blowing. Fixing my eyes on the moving cargo ships, I had no thoughts in mind. It was quiet with me and the world only.
At around noon, I got up and went ahead to have lunch. The Suyishi Western Restaurant on Fifth Avenue was recommended on the website, so I decided to went back there to have a try. After asking a few people around Fifth Avenue, I finally got there. I had salad, borsch, beef, spaghetti and a cup of mocha. The food was fine. The leftovers made me feel guilty.
After lunch I went for some entertainment. I had heard that there was a Celebrity Tea House near the China House. The admission fee was 50rmb, which was higher than I expected. I laughed out of breath in there, which should surely be attributed to the performers.
I toured the China House afterwards. I walked and walked, not aware of where I was. Many food stalls lined along the roadsides. A main store of 18th Street Fried Dough Twists ( Shibajie Ma Hua) caught my eyes. I bought many Fried Dough Twists and Beng Dou there. As I walked, I ate numerous snacks, such as chestnut, noodles made from potato powder and Ma La Tang etc. It began to rain later, so I went into a restaurant full of customers to have my dinner. I ate very slowly waiting for the rain to stop. The rain got lighter gradually. It was about time for my return train when I finished my meal. I hurried onto a bus to the train station but got on the opposite direction bus. Well, finally I got to the train station in time.
This 2-day Tianjin trip will forever be in my memory though it is short. After all it is my first solo trip. I experienced not only the loneliness all by myself but also the happiness.