Monday 11 May 2015

Gi2C Guide: Must-Try Restaurants in Downtown Beijing

This post comes from my friends over at the Gi2C Group, an internship provider in China. Careful reading this post as you might get hungry enough to jump on a plane to do some great eating in Beijing!

Beijing is a superb place to live if you are a foodie. Not only is the authentic Chinese food in the Jing delicious and extremely diverse, but you also have a plethora of international delights that will whet your appetite. Don’t waste your time cooking at home in Beijing. Even if you ate out every day, it would take you several years to try all of Beijing’s fabulous restaurants. Save yourself time by avoiding the multiple trips way out to IKEA to stock up on kitchen supplies and instead focus on finding a good job to pay for your soon-to-be crazy high food budget. You’ll also want to invest in several pairs of pants with quality elastic waistbands.

Almost all of our Gi2C interns are new to China and Beijing, which is exactly why we wrote this guide.We want to help Beijing interns and everyone else enjoy the great China capital of Beijing to the fullest. Literally. You will get very full living here. If you live close to the Second and Third Ring roads on the east side of downtown Beijing, you will want to get out and experience the following five eateries for yourself:

Photo courtesy of Gi2C Guide

1. Makye Ame Tibetan Restaurant 玛  吉阿米
11A Xiushui Nanjie, Jianguomenwai Chaoyang District
朝阳区建国门外秀水南街甲 11号
Hours: 10am – Midnight

Makye Ame has excellent Tibetan food as well as dinner entertainment.  The restaurant is extremely hard to find but think of it as your own secret location and enjoy the hunt to discover this delicious treasure. Food is not cheap at Makye. Dinner for two may cost you around 500rmb (US$80) for four dishes depending on which dishes you choose and how much Tibetan butter tea you drink. If you are looking for an internship in Tibetan dancing (a competitive industry for internships), this is the place for you. Dust off your business cards and get ready to network. The Tibetan dancing and singing begins at 8pm.

Photo courtesy of Gi2C Guide

2. Bazha Tongga Tibetan Restaurant 巴扎童嘎藏餐吧
Southwest corner of Dongzhimenwai Dajie and Xindong Lu Chaoyang District
Hours: 10am – Midnight

As you walk up the stairs of this restaurant on the busy corner of Dongzhimenwai, you walk into a whole new world, magic carpets and all. Tibetan relics and adornments surround you as you take your place at a wood table. The menu boasts a great deal of dishes; however, when we were there, some were unavailable. The wait staff are extremely entertaining and are more than happy to break out in song if you ask them. They also provide good recommendations if you have no idea what to order.  Dishes are mid-priced which means dinner for two might run at most 300rmb ($50). 

Photo courtesy of Gi2C Guide

3. Middle 8th Yunnan Restaurant中八楼
Zhongba Lou, Sanlitun Zhongjie Chaoyang District
Hours: 11am – 11.30pm

You might not expect to find such a classy restaurant serving Yunnan style food hidden away in a tiny,dirty hutong, but that’s what we love about China: the surprises and new discoveries.  The food can get a little spicy so if you are sensitive, be sure to ask the wait staff to keep it mild for you. One item to absolutely order from the menu is their rice wine, which is served in a giant piece of bamboo. It has a relatively low alcohol content and tastes simply divine. If you’re in a rush, it is advisable to make reservations ahead of time as Middle 8 is often quite busy. However, they provide great snacks shipped all the way from Yunnan in the waiting area which makes having to wait not so bad. 

Photo courtesy of Gi2C Guide

4. Haidilao Hot Pot 海底捞火锅
2A Baijiazhuang Lu (next to No. 80 Middle School) Chaoyang District
朝阳区白家庄路甲 2  号 (八十中学西侧)
Hours: 24/7

One simply cannot leave China without having hotpot. Hot pot comes in all shapes and flavors in China but a foreigner favorite hotpot destination is Haidilao. The customer service is superb (which is extremely rare in China), there’s a variety of food to make any picky eater happy and you are able to play games, eat snacks, or even have a manicure while you wait to be seated. They also provide a play area for small children. What’s not to love? Be sure to make a reservation well in advance as this place is almost always packed. Eating hotpot is something to do with a big group of friends, but if there are only two of you expect the bill to be around 200-300rmb ($50). If this Chaoyang location isn’t convenient for you, they have multiple locations around Beijing. In advance of your first visit, you’re welcome.  

Photo courtesy of Gi2C Guide

5. Xiaodiao Litang 小吊梨汤
14 Baijiazhuang Dongli, Chaoyang District
朝阳区白家庄东里甲 14号
Hours: 11am-9:30pm

Xiao Diao Li Tang is off the radar of most foreigners. However, they have several locations around the city, and oh my, do they have yummy, home-style food. This particular location can be a little tricky to find as it’s down a small alleyway but once in the general area, simply show the locals the address and they will point you in the right direction. If you’re craving Chinese comfort food, look no further. Prices are also quite reasonable so don’t be shy about ordering too much. Two people ordering four dishes might end up with a bill slightly over 100rmb ($15). If you’re a Gi2C intern on a tight budget, this is the place for you.

Let us know what you think of our five favorite east Beijing restaurants in the heart of downtown! You can read more info about life in Beijing and other delicious restaurants at the Gi2C blog.

This Beijing restaurant guide is brought to you by Gi2C Group. Gi2C has been an internship provider in China since 2008 and has become a leader in the China internship industry. Gi2C’s goal is to help students and young professionals not only gain China work experience but also to help them understand China and Chinese business culture. Gi2C provides tailor-made opportunities for interns to work for a variety companies in multiple industries based in China. Gi2C also provides daily support for Gi2C interns as needed for the duration of their stay in China.

This has been a sponsored post with our partner HelpGoAbroad. Note that I would not post content that I would not agree with.

Monday 4 May 2015

8 Do’s and Don’ts of Volunteering Abroad

This post comes from Alex Bradbeer, the creator and author of Finding The Freedom, an adventure travel blog focused on adventure and crazy off the beaten path destinations.

Perhaps you have a ‘gap’ year to fill before university? Maybe you want a break from the 9-5-work treadmill? Or you might be someone who has taken ‘early retirement’ and now wants a new direction in life.

Volunteering abroad is a great way to see new countries, learn about different cultures and grow as a person. Is it for you? Well, here are 8 ‘do’s and don’t’s to help you decide.


Do think about why you are doing it


Be clear about what you expect to get out – and give to – the experience. Is it mostly about philanthropy, training, self-development or one big adventure? It’s fine for it to be a mixture of those things but try to analyze which is the most important to you, as this will help you pick the right project.

Do think about where you want to go

Could you cope with the humidity of a city like Singapore? Copyright CC User Khánh Hmoong on Flickr

Location is always a major decision for those thinking about living abroad and volunteering abroad. Lots of factors will affect your decision – climate, language, culture, distance from home.

Interrogate yourself: Can I cope with a very humid climate? Will I survive in a quiet rural location with a patchy electricity supply and unreliable Internet? Do I feel comfortable in very conservative societies where women might be expected to cover up and behave modestly?

Do ask lots of questions 

 Teaching is a popular volunteer activity, Copyright CC User Rex Pe on Flickr

If you’re paying a fee to an agency to secure you a volunteer placement, get clear answers about what it covers. Will medical insurance, for example, be included if you get ill?

You will also need to know how many hours a day you will be expected to work and what support there will be when you are ‘in country’.

Don’t be afraid to do some serious vetting

Whether you are planning to apply directly to a charity or NGO or use an agency that specializes in placements, make sure you check them out thoroughly. Find out how long they have been in business and scour the Internet for online information and reviews by past volunteers.

Look for transparency. Reputable organizations should publish their accounts or be happy to share them with you. It’s totally acceptable for organizations to have a margin of profit for overheads and paying permanent staff, but they shouldn’t be exploiting volunteers and communities for profit.


Don’t make assumptions

Researching a country like Cambodia’s history is crucial for volunteers, Copyright CC User Bryn Jones on Flickr

Read as much as you can about the history and culture of the country you plan to visit. It may turn out to be very different from your initial thoughts. Not only will locals appreciate the interest you have taken when you arrive, but it will also enable you to pack the correct clothes for visits to mosques and temples – and indeed people’s homes.

Do prepare for leaving

Think about taking out medical insurance, even if you are covered by the organization you will be volunteering for. You may want to take part in sports or activities not included in their plan.

Do you need any vaccinations or Malaria tablets? Make sure you have an ample supply of any prescription drugs that you will need while you’re abroad. It’s also a good idea to take basic medications like painkillers, antibiotics and anti-histamines in case they are hard to come by.

Make photocopies of your passport and credit cards. Take one set with you and leave one at home. This is useful if the documents and cards get lost or stolen. Compile a list of emergency numbers – both of people you can call if something happens and that can be called on your behalf in the unfortunate event that you are injured.

Do try to be enthusiastic

Volunteering with a smile in Peru, Copyright CC User VISIONS Service Adventures on Flickr

When you finally arrive abroad, try to be upbeat. There’s nothing worse than a grumpy volunteer, except perhaps 2 grumpy volunteers! Accept that some of the things you might be asked to do will be dull and tedious and undertake them with a good heart. You will only get out what you put in - and no one wants to be remembered as a whiner.

Do support local businesses

Everyone loves a McDonald’s burger when they have been eating goat curry everyday for a month, but don’t routinely eat in western food outlets. Your custom is incredibly important to local restaurants, hotels and businesses. It ensures that money stays in the community and it will also help support entrepreneurship.

Embrace the fact that you will be leaving your comfort zone and be prepared to go with the flow. After all, there’s no point in volunteering abroad if you just want to duplicate your life at home

This has been a sponsored post with our partner HelpGoAbroad. Note that I would not post content that I would not agree with.