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Still catching up on China stuff… In December, Izabela and I went to Beijing. We both had streaming colds the whole time, which was not much fun, but it was better to climb the Great Wall than to sit around at home feeling sorry for ourselves. Besides, we had already booked the trains and it was the last chance I would have to go before leaving China. People looked at me in horror when I mentioned that I hadn’t yet been and was leaving the country soon. So anyway. I went.

Having full-time jobs at a university meant time was limited and we had to do it in a weekend. Luckily we finished work early on the Friday and caught the fast train, which takes only five hours. We found Saga Hostel quite easily despite not having a map – friendly strangers helped. Old people were roughly 100% more helpful than young people, just in terms of knowing where things were. It was also a good opportunity to practise our Chinese, as hardly anyone spoke English.

We dropped our bags off and booked onto a non-existent tour to the Great Wall, which later got amended to one that did exist (we wanted to do the Great Wall and the Summer Palace in one day due to time restraints – they let us buy tickets then informed us it wasn’t possible). We popped out for some yummy noodles and vegetable kebabs at a restaurant in the hutong (alleyway) then explored the area a bit. We bought a bag of insanely small oranges and ate all of them, determined to kill our colds with vitamin C.

The next morning we were up early for breakfast and our trip to the Great Wall, which involved going to the Great Wall only as we weren’t that bothered about the other stuff they offered as a combination trip (not with such a short time to do everything anyway). It was December in Beijing, so obviously it was cold. But it was sunny and the sky was blue and there seemed to be actual fresh air out at Mutianyu. There were hardly any other people on the wall due to the time of year and time of morning.

In the afternoon we went to Tiananmen Square but were told we were too late to go into the Forbidden City. We were gutted as we weren’t sure if we’d have time to do it the next day as well as the Summer Palace. We went to the adjacent Zhongshan Park, which was very pretty, and walked home via Donghuamen Night Market, where there were some very appetising treats on sale, such as scorpions and the penises of unidentified animals. All on sticks. I don’t eat meat anyway but Izabela also decided to give them a miss. We wandered into a department store and managed to find our favourite tea stand, Happy Lemon, of which there are many in Shanghai but seemingly few in Beijing. We had grapefruit green tea as usual and I lamented the cuteness of the Happy Lemon mascot.

The next day we were indestructible superwomen and, in spite of our disgusting colds, managed to go to both the Summer Palace, which looked beautiful with all the wintry frosted roofs and icy lake, AND the Forbidden City before 2pm. It was obviously exciting to go somewhere that is declared forbidden in its very name, and it lived up to the tourist brochure hype. The place is huge, and some parts of it are well preserved and very beautiful. I liked all the old, falling apart stuff more than the redone bits though.

Proud of ourselves, we headed back to the hostel to collect our bags and stopped on the way for some noodles (mine contained a hair so I gave up). We probably did some other things that I’ve forgotten about due to the six-week time lapse before I was able to write this post. Oh yeah, I slipped over on the hostel floor. That was fun. I liked Beijing better than Shanghai I think, it had more character and old stuff and y’know, Chinese things. But I’m missing my friends in SH. And Happy Lemon.

2 Responses to “Beijing”
  1. Iza says:

    hi hun I love your blog now I’ll remember our Beijing trip in details forever.

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