I arrived in Beijing late on the night of the 5th, and had quite the adventure here meeting some amazing people, and seeing some amazing places I wasn’t planning to see. I’m glad Dan and Matt convinced me to get to Beijing. It was an excellent city with a lot going on.
I had three full days here in Beijing and feel that I filled my time pretty well. I saw four or so really awesome attractions here:
- The Forbidden City and Tian An Men Square
- Donghuamen Street Night Market
- Summer Palace and Kung Fu Show
- The Great Wall of China
Forbidden City and Tian An Men Square
I ventured out with Dan around 11 or so the morning after we flew into Beijing. We had to take care of switching rooms at our hostel (Sunrise Hostel Tiananmen). We ended up walking the wrong direction at first near this super busy and huge street with a ton of expensive shops. After wandering around the are we finally got on track in the right direction towards the Forbidden City.
I didn’t realize how big this place actually was. It was huge! We walked and walked and walked finally getting to the gate of this place. I was astonished with it all. We ended up wandering through a good amount of the city with more still to see, but ran out of time. We got there around 12:30pm and we close the place down around 5pm. What a place. We decided to do their “Automatic Audio Guide” tour, but it was just a waste of money as it didn’t work half the time it should have. Oh well, it was still a cool place to explore on our own. One thing Dan and I noticed, Chinese people take a lot of wasteful pictures. They took pictures of everything! Pictures of pictures even. How silly.
Once finishing this place, Dan and I got ripped off by a rickshaw driver who was supposed to take us around the city back end towards the front so we could go to Tian An Men square, but he didn’t and then wanted more than we originally said we’d pay. What a joke. Oh well. It was a neat experience.
We got to Tian An Men square and there were a ton of people and guards around. They had a ton of flowers and a huge flower basket in the middle. Everything was pretty amazing and in the evening, everything was lit up and look even cooler. Glad we stopped over here.
Donghuamen Street Night Market
Later that evening, Dan and I grabbed some food at a restaurant near the Donghuamen Street market and after ordering and eating too much food, Dan and I explored the street market. This place was pretty cool. So many things to order on sticks. Many things I had only heard about, but seeing it in person, was pretty astonishing. I bartered to get some scorpions, but he wasn’t going for it so I passed. As we were about to leave however, I was able to talk one guy down on getting snake-on-a-stick.
I was expecting this to taste better than it did, but as my last post showed, it was quite disgusting.
Summer Palace and Kung Fu Show
We got back to the hostel and I met the few people I was staying with my first night at the hostel and they were going to the Summer Palace the next day, so I asked to join in and had a sweet time seeing a huge rubber ducky.
Dan ended up staying back to get some work done and relax a bit, but I went onwards with Jenna, Adam, and Daniel (our Chinese friend whose real name I forgot, but was given this English name by Jenna and Adam). We hopped on the metro and made our way out to the palace. The Summer Palace is a large temple with a huge lake. This place was huge and full of people exploring the area. We just happened to be there in the middle of them displaying a gigantic rubber ducky that has been traveling the globe. It was pretty amazing to see and so odd to see in surrounded by so much history. We walked around the entire lake and had a great time getting to know one another and taking the place in. The place that used to be forbidden for entry until not that long ago.
Before departing to the palace, we booked a kung fu show through our hostel and had to leave the palace to get back in time.
We met up with Dan at the hostel and a couple other people for a really cool kung fu show telling the story of how one master learned humility and obedience.
The show was visually stunning and they did some amazing stuff on stage. Sadly, I wasn’t able to take pictures or video of the show (I did take some, but the pictures didn’t turn out).
Afterwards we cabbed it to our hostel. Dan and I then booked a private car to the Matianyu section of the Great Wall of China with a couple from Finland we met a couple nights ago.
The Great Wall of China
This was the last astonishing thing I was able to fit into my trip in China, and boy was I glad that I was able to get it in. The main reason to get to Beijing was going to the wall and it was totally worth it.
The drive took around an hour and some to get to the village below the wall. We got our passes and ended up taking the cable car up. Once at the top of the wall we began our walk up some of the steepest steps I’d ever taken. It’s amazing to think that the majority of all these stones were brought up by hand and that people were even buried in the wall itself. Insane! The wall was breath taking. We walked as far as we could go without getting to the sections completely broken which connected some of the other parts of the wall. The wall is huge and goes on as far as the eye can see. After getting to one end of the wall as far as we could go, we turned around and went as far as we could on the other side.
We all ended up enjoying a beer and mini Cuban cigar at the top of one of the buildings we had to climb up. It was quite the place and we saw a lot of it.
We got back to where the cable car dropped us off and took their toboggan slide down the mountain. This track is 1.5 kilometers long and you get going pretty fast. I ended up recording the entire trip down and only almost fell off once as you can see in the video below.
We ate some food at a nearby restaurant and took off from the wall. We stopped at a couple spots on the way back to our hostel. A place that taught us how silk is made, and a tea house that let us sample four of their teas. It was definitely set up for us to buy the stuff, but it was also cool to see it all.
Last Night of Beijing
After getting back to the hostel I took a much needed nap. Dan and I ended the evening by meeting up with a girl we met on the airplane to Beijing who is from Florida but working as a translator in Beijing.
The restaurant was pretty stunning. It was around 4 or 5 levels high with people eating on every floor. The place is open 24 hours a day however which I never saw in China. She ordered us some food and their local licquor. The liquor wasn’t something I enjoyed but the food was really tasty. One thing she ordered I didn’t think I’d like was chicken feet. Well, they way they prepared it made it pretty good. It wasn’t my favorite thing out there, but it wasn’t the worst.
We went over to the lake nearby and wandered the markets in the area. It was a cool spot and very vibrant. It was pretty loud at times however with people doing karaoke at every corner of the place making it sound quite terrible (worse than karaoke usually sounds).
Samantha ended up splitting off from us and Dan and I cabbed it home and promptly crashed.
Beijing was an awesome place and I was glad I got to spend my last bits of China here. Dan was a great person to travel with and look forward to seeing him again down the road.
My next destination I’m leaving to by plane is to Hanoi, Vietnam!