We arrived in Beijing at 5 am, after the most painless 9 hour flight, and and made our way to the Hyde Courtyard Hotel. We dropped our bags off and went in search for a Starbucks ! The hotel was really centrally located, a five min walk from Tian’an men square, and right beside Tian’an men square, was a Starbucks-three iced coffees please 🙂 ! We decided to book a tour to the Great Wall and the summer palace for the follow day and visit the forbidden city that day.
To get to the forbidden city, we had to walk through Tian’an men square. There are a billion people in China, and about half of them were on the square that day, each holding a sun umbrella-
30 degrees heat + half a billion Asian tourists (none of whom spoke English) – English sign posts = stress !
We finally made it to the forbidden city, not before a slight detour to some other temple and an Asian art shop, and it was beautiful.
After the forbidden city, it was time for a four hour nap and then dinner. We made our way to Wangfujing Food Alley, where we tried squid on a stick, dumplings and snake on a stick (we weren’t brave enough to try the live scorpion or sea horses).
We got a tuktuk back to the hotel, and unfortunately, instead of handing him 50 yuan, I gave him 30 yuan and 20 euro-which he refused to give back 😡 . Thankfully, this was the first, and only negative experience with a Beijing local, who are generally very friendly people.
Early start at 6 am to meet our tour guide “Amanda” (at Starbucks). Joining us on our tour were a Slovakian couple and a Portuguese family. An hour later, we caught our first glimpse of the wall (full of Asians with umbrellas), but we drove straight past this section and on to a very secluded part where we had the wall to ourselves for two hours 🙂 Amanda told us that the Chinese chairman states that no Chinese person is a hero until they have climbed the Great Wall. We climbed the wall (heros) and took in the breathtaking views. Lindsey and I also did a bit of Yoga on top of the wall Namaste
The summer palace sits on a big lake. It was hot, and packed, but the walk along the long corridor (beside the lake) in the shade was nice and relaxing.
Amanda recommended a great place for us to get Peking duck by our hotel- which is where we went for dinner; best duck in a pancake I have ever had!
We took the subway to the zoo as we wanted to see some pandas while we were in China. Unfortunately, this trip was a bit depressing as the conditions in the zoo were awful and the animals were clearly distressed 😦 They were filthy, thin and in tiny, concrete cages with no vegetation or water.
We sat down for a rest, and within minutes, there was a queue of Chinese parents, who wanted pictures of us with their babies. After the sixth baby, it was time to go.
The temple of heaven is situated in a big green park. It wasn’t as crowded as the other attractions, but just as impressive. We walked around here for a few hours, and took some more pics with Asian tourists.
We returned to the hotel for an early night- taxi is collecting us a 4.30 am to take us to the airport!