Beijing has a lot to offer – Forbidden Palace, Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace and of course the famous Great Wall.
On the first day Derek took off and visited the surroundings of the Forbidden Palace, though was barred from visiting the Tiananmen Square as he didn’t bring his passport with him (there was a security check just outside the Square).
The following day we visited Forbidden Palace. To fully enjoy the place you need some powerful elbow muscles as you have to fight your way through the crowd surrounding certain parts of the palace. Later in the afternoon Derek took off again to visit the Temple of Heaven – where Emperors attended annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest.
On Saturday our hostel (9 Dragons House) organized a tour to the unrestored parts of the Great Wall and we decided to visit it along with several other people. On our way there we were treated to a real feast – more than 12 different REAL Chinese dishes served in a family restaurant in the mountains. The food was superb and we wished we could have stayed there longer.
Afterward we took a walk to the Wall – the entire hike to and from took about two hours and we saw some amazing views (see photos). And in the evening we relaxed in a spa – sauna plus 70 minutes of superb massage cost us 59 RMB per person (~ 9 USD). We had the non-happy ending massage in case someone was curious 🙂 .
On Sunday Derek went to see the Summer Palace with its famous Marble Boat – he spent several hours walking the gardens and taking photos, then came back to the hostel with a bit of sunburn and sore feet.
Monday took us by surprise with a bad weather – lots of rain and thunders. We stayed at the hostel most of the time aside from a short visit to the Pearl Market and an evening quest for Hooters (we found the place, but it was closed – wonder why …)
On Tuesday we took a bus to the restored part of the Great Wall in BaDaLing. Scenery out of the Discovery Channel, but crawling with tourists and vendors. Bottle of water, corn and ice cream at least three times as expensive as Beijing (4 corns at Beijing were 3 RMB, 1 corn at BaDaLing was 4 RMB). It was hot and tiring as the steps were VERY steep and people were slow (or perhaps it was us who were fast). After the trip back to Beijing we made a quick visit to the site of Olypmic Games (Bird’s Nest) but departed shortly afterwards as we were getting hungry and there weren’t any food vendors nearby – not even KFC with its DELICIOUS blueberry egg custard tarts ( now Derek’s favorite dessert 🙂 .
We are leaving China after a stopover in Shanghai. The trip to airport included a super-fast magnetically levitated train (MagLev) which reached an amazing 431 km/h (~ 268 mph).
Next stop – Philippines for some relaxation, diving, snorkeling and sunbathing as we await Sam’s (Kama’s brother) arrival in Japan 🙂 .
Short video from the Great Wall: