27th August 2009

Beijing and the Great Wall of China

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Beijing is an interesting city, with a mix of lots of old buildings, beautiful gates, and hutongs on one hand, and on the other hand new buildings. The city most likely looks very different now after the last year’s Olympics. We ended up staying a week in this Chinese capital, as there is so much to see, and transportation to some of the places takes long.
It was very hot when we were there, and there was lots of Chinese tourists, as it was summer holiday time.

The first day we visited the famous Forbidden City (Imperial Palace) and TienAnMen square. We woke up a bit late and had about 4-5 hours for the Forbidden City before closing time. It was barely enough, as the place is huge (800 buildings). It is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. In the evening a local guy we contacted via couch surfing joined us, and advised us to stay in TienAnMen square until the flag ceremony. Every evening lots of people gather there to watch the flag lowering from the flagpole. Nothing very amazing, but why not since we were there.

   
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The following day we visited beautiful Imperial garden, Beihai park. Very nice place, but a hint for the cave there, it’s tiny and all destroyed, not worth paying extra for it.

   
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Next morning early wake up as it was the day for the longest total solar eclipse to occur in the 21st century. Well, the eclipse was total in Shanghai area, east coast of China, but as we were this close, we were supposed to see 80 % eclipse, so worth waking up. Unfortunately the day was so cloudy, that we only got the last glimpse of this special event when entering the Temple of Heaven. Temple area is a funny place, there you can see local people playing games, dancing and singing. Retired people get in for free, so they like to spend time there. In the afternoon we headed to the Summer Palace, which is located further away. UNESCO has declared Summer Palace as the masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. In the evening we stopped by at the famous food market street in center of Beijing to have a look at delicacies such as cockroach, sea horse and bull testicles. We tasted some sea star and snake. Chris would have tasted also scorpion, but found the price too expensive.
Of course in Beijing we had to eat Beijing duck. That was tasty. The chef brought to table a whole roasted duck, and sliced the meat. We wrapped the meat slices inside little pancakes, and enjoyed them with onion, cucumber and dark sauce.

   
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We had some adventures when trying to get to the Great Wall of China. It is not easy to know what is the best way to get there. Many people visit Badaling section of the wall when first time in China. Of course our concern was how crowded this section is going to be. One can take a train there from North train station, but that train station was a bit far for us. Public bus is another option, but one has to be careful as there is also many fake busses with the same number, who might or might not take you to the right place (there is also a fake Badaling section of the wall), and will charge you much more money than you are supposed to pay. The organized tours are recommended to be booked via hostel/hotel, as there is scams around those too.
We ended up renting a private car and a guide with a French couple we met the previous day, so that we could be at the wall before the crowds and take our time there. Well, next morning we woke up early and the guide arrived. She knew nothing about what we were supposed to do that day, she thought we were two people instead of four, and she started to change the plan and the price after we got upset that the car was too small for us. Finally nobody was happy and they turned around and we cancelled the trip with them. It was ok for us to get a resting day as my stomach was not feeling too well. So the following day we booked a normal organized tour to the wall, even though we knew that they would not spend much time at the wall, would take you to tourist shops and that it would be crowded. But finally we ended up having a very nice day and good group in the bus. The tour guide tried to get us to take a cable car to the wall, which was not included in the price, but we insisted to walk. At the wall we chose to go different direction with most of the people which was good decision as we got to be at there sometimes almost by ourselves, plus got great pictures over the other side. It started to rain after an hour so finally few hours there was quite ok time. Surely one could spend there much much more time admiring the landscape and to visit different sections. It is a great place, definitely one of the things in the world to visit. On top of the wall the tour takes you to one of the Ming-tombs.

   
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In Beijing we still went to one of the largest and most important Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the world, the Lama Temple, and to the Imperial Academy, which was the national central institute of learning in ancient Chinese dynasties.

   
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Sorry for the huge amount of pictures from Beijing, we understand you might get bored. But as this page also works as a journal for us, and as a storage for our pictures, we need to send them all.
Just skip when you are bored…

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 27th, 2009 at 20:21 and is filed under in English please !, news, voyages, worldtrip'09. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

There are currently 2 responses to “Beijing and the Great Wall of China”

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  1. 1 On August 28th, 2009, Irma said:

    Hei taas Netta ja Chris! Eipä osaa kuin huokailla ja ihastella kuulumisianne ja upeita kuvia eri kohteista. Vähän on olo kuin olisi käynyt itsekin pienellä matkalla KIITOS! Täällä elokuu lähestyy loppuaan, ilmat ovat olleet hyvät ja lämpimät- mieli on hyvä koska ainakin minusta kesä on ilmojenkin puolesta ollut oikein hyvä ja edelleen luvattiin moneksi päiväksi lämmintä tosin myös paikoin sateista. Minä olen ollut nyt nelisen viikkoa töissä ja seuraavat kaksi viikkoa olen eläkkeellä, tuntuu oikein sopivalta rytmitykseltä.. Terveisiä meiltä kaikilta, pysykäähän terveinä ja uusia kuvia ja matkakuulumisia odotellen kaikkea hyvää teille toivotellen Irma

  2. 2 On August 31st, 2009, ariane said:

    Hello

    I have recieved your postcard today … comming back from our own little 2 weeks holiday !! in the dordogne … very very nice place

    back to your card … thank you very much ! do you know what the writing above the horse means ?

    Thank you for the nice surprise

    a bientot

    ariaen

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