Our next day in Beijing with another busy day ahead it was tIke to visit the magnificent Great Wall of China. Before we left the uk we did some research on the best place to visit. The main tourist spot is at a place called Badaling, but after looking at a lot of images and also watching the UK’s TV series “An Idiot Abroad”, with Carl Pilkinton, it showed what looked like a football crowd walking along it, so we decided to give this section a miss . So with some further research we settled on going to a section a little further outside of Beijing at a place called Mùtiányù. This is far less touristy, in fact it was very quite when we went as we were outside the main tourist season.
The Chinese started building the wall some 2000 years ago and the wall covers a distance of 5,500 miles. We sourced “which as it turned out” a very good company on the internet run by a chap called Miles Meng. “In fact he is listed in the Lonely Planet guide book which we discovered later”. The journey takes about 2 hours and cost 700¥ (for the car not per person) this is around £80. If you decide to visit the Badaling section of the wall you can take the train from Beijing north rail station, but if you decide on Mùtiányù then you need a taxi or private tour. The trip doesn’t include the entrance fees, these will cost 100¥ for the return cable car trip and 45¥ for the entrance totalling around £17
Top Tip instead of taking the cable car back down take the toboggan or luge it’s much more of a fun way to get down.
Visiting the wall in March like we did was perfect, there was no crowds, it was cold “there was still snow on the ground” and there were clear blue sky’s. Seeing the wall in the flesh so to speak was just amazing, in fact it was quite emotional. Another wonder of the world ticked off.
What a difference a good nights sleep makes. Our attitude today was totally different. After a nice breakfast it was off to discover Tienanmen square and The Forbidden City. We took the metro which is very simple to navigate. Unlike London’s tube network though there is no one day travel card option, you have to buy a single journey which costs 3¥ ( around 40p UK ). You can buy your ticket at the kiosk, ” just point to where you want to go on the tube map” or use the automatic ticket machines which have a English translation option.
Top Tip when using the metro be mindful if you are on a time schedule. Because if you are are traveling at peat times, everyone entering the metro has to pass their bags through an airport style security scanner and the queues can get rather long. On arrival at Tienanmen Square we we confronted by another long queue because of yet another security check “Security is very tight in China”. Once inside The Forbidden City it was immediately apparent that all the hassle before hand was most definitely worth it. The complex covers a vast area and took us the whole day to explore. My activity tracker showed that we had took 28,275 steps totalling 12.9 miles over the day. THe Forbidden City is truly a amazing place. Entrance fees are very reasonable too whigh at time of travel was 40¥, which is around £5. Also I would recommend once inside visit the museum as some of the artifacts and intricate jewellery on display are stunning. This will cost you an extra 20¥ but like I said well worth it. When yo enter the city you have to enter the by the Meridian gate, which is where the ticket offices are, but I suggest that once you have explored the city, leave by the North Gate, walk across the road and enter Jingshan Park (small entrance fee) and if you have got the energy after a very busy day walk up to the Wanchun Pavillion to get a great view of the city from up high. A perfect end to a perfect day, we were certainly in the swing of things now.
The Chinese don’t do queuing it’s just their way, so there is a little bumping and boring. There is no malice or anger involved, like I said it’s just their way. So stay calm and go with the flow.
Well it’s finally here my 60th birthday trip (well birthday’s not until the 26th). Our first stop is in China and the fascinating city of Beijing.
After our ten hour flight and as we were making our final approach into Beijing airport I couldn’t help noticing how flat the area was around the city was. But more amazingly the amount of tall residential blocks you could see, literally thousands of them, mile after mile, all very gray and similar in design. It looked like a scene from a sci-fi film. It’s no wonder though as Beijing 23,000,000 inhabitants have got to live somewhere.
Our transit through immigration was a breeze and we were soon in our taxi on our way to our accommodation “Kelly’s Courtyard” a really lovely small hotel which I would recommend highly, in the heart of one of Beijings Hutong districts and very close to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. After checking in and. dropping our bags We decided to have a walk around the imidiate area to get our bearings also to refrain from taking a sleep owing to the jet lag. It was immediately noticeable that things were not going to be easy on this part of our trip. Firstly we were going to have no idea of the language or even trying to decipher it with the aid of the guide book, and what on earth were we going to do when it came to eating.We didn’t have a clue as to what was on the menus and from what we have read we really did need to know. (As they do eat a multitude of strange things the Chinese, some I’m sure wouldn’t be to appetising), in fact later on in our trip we saw a menu serving hedgehog and also donkey, Mmm lovely. One other big problem was the fact that unlike other countries that I have visited, very few people speak any English at all. It was even a struggle to find a place for a cup of coffee ( I know we are in China they drink tea, but I hate the stuff). Luckily we came across a really a nice place called “1901” a really old establishment steeped in history We settled down and was initially going to have a nice cup of coffee and a cake but after seeing the prices we decided on just coffee which was £4, and £4.75 for just a small piece of cake so we just had coffee. We were beginning to think at this stage perhaps we should have carried onto Kuala Lumper without stopping in Beijing. But we both agreed this was down to the fact that we had just had a long journey and we were extremely tired. John the owner of Kelly’s courtyard recommended us to a really nice restaurant nearby with a menu we could understand “we hadn’t just learnt Chinese it had pictures” although there were some strange looking offerings, there were also some familiar ones “things were looking up”. Our mood was changing. New day tomorrow.