You think Beijing is crazy and loud – the capital of the most populous state in the world? I tell you the opposite! How I found the relaxing and inspiring places of the city, you can read here.
But first of all, the way to Beijing was my last trip of the transsibirian/ transmongolian train from Moscow after our tour in Mongolia and it was the most exciting one. First you feel that you ar in a Chinese train: the beds are more uncomfortable (you know, Chinese like to sleep on the floor), you don’t get a cup for free to make tea like in Russia and you have to be there at least 45 minutes in advance. Yeah!
My mum and I were in a 4-people-compartement (2nd class – there is no 3rd class anymore in these trains) with a guy from Ireland and a girl from Mongolia. Very nice company for the 28 hours journey. At 9pm we reached the Chinese border and had to wait for the passport control and the change of the rails. That was so amazing! They dismantled all the trains and put new tracks on the bottom for each separately. That is why it took so long. There is a video on Facebook page, too. Because I am in China now, I just have restricted access to Facebook, no YouTube or Google…
The night on the hard bed was better than expected, we arrived in Beijing in lunch time and went to our hostel first. Accommodation in China is really cheap, we pay about 4 to 8 Euro a night. And you can have dinner for 2 to 3 Euro as well. The only thing what is expensive are the entries to the tourist attractions – you have to pay for everything, even for a park 50 cent and to go up a mountain! And there are fences and barriers everywhere, sometimes it is very hard to cross the street because of that.
But what I really didn’t expect was the calmness of the city. Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia was even more busy with all the cars and noises. In China it is very popular to go by little motorcycle but in Beijing it is only allowed to drive with electronic engine. And because they want to save electricity, you neither hear nor see them! In total the streets are so controlled and calm, maybe the Chinese are more relaxed because of their Buddhism religion. The first night we met with a Chinese girl I knew through another friend and she helped us with the train tickets. She is a so nice and kind person and through her got to know the friendliness of Chinese culture. Thank you Ling again! Together we went to a crazy food street and saw the variety of Chinese food including insects, ducks, octopus, pig feed …
The next day we went to the Forbidden city (entrance 4€ for students, 8€ normal – students always get half-price so take some student ID card – I use my DKB Visa ISIC Card). It is a huge areal of temples with the palace museum inside built by the emperor of the earlier days and it is “forbidden” because the normal people had no access in this time. The nicest thing of this attraction is the park in the back and behind the Forbidden city you can go to Jingshan Park and see it from the top – from there you have a fantastic view over the whole area and Beijing together!
In the end I would recommend to just go there and skip the Forbidden city because the temples inside it look quite the same and the impressive thing is the size which you can only see from the top of hill. Afterwards we went with a Dutch girl which we met on the way to Beihei Park and Qiongdao Island which is next door and a really nice park with a big lake. You can also take boat tours around. Probably a nice thing in summer but we had only 6 degrees. For dinner we tried the Beijing duck and went in a totally overpriced restaurant but therefore we had the most delicious dinner of the whole travel haha and a show of the preparation of the duck included (video is coming soon).
The second day we went to the Temple of Heaven, a really relaxing place with a big park around and nice walking ways where people play cards. In the evening we had dinner in the Hutong market street and enjoyed the lively atmosphere of this famous snack street.
Next morning we had to wake up ealy to go to the Great Wall. We decided to go to the Section “Mutianyu”. There is “Badaling Section” as well which is more touristic and crowded and maybe more popular and there are many illegal sections as well – but we wanted something in between and it was absolutely great! Did you know that the wall was built by Chinese to protect from other Chinese in the north (the more nomadic tribes)? We walked 4000 steps (mum counted) although we took the Cable Car for the way up. There are many tours offering this trip for 40€, we paid about 20€ in total self-organized. Of course it is a bit more organisation but you can move more individually.
On the last day we went to Summer Palace which is a bit far out of the city and that was absolutely the highlight (together with Great Wall) of the our Beijing visit. It has a big park and lake area, the three hours we were there is probably not enough. There is relaxing music everywhere and you can take a boat ride over to a little island. Very romantic! And because of the smog/ dust it looks even more mystical. In the evening we met our friend Ling and her friends for dinner and had a great time together. Later on we went to Houhai Park which I highly recommend on evenings. There are bars with live music (really good Chinese singers) and you walk on the river side with lights everywhere!
The next day we took the speed train to Xi’an. How fast that goes and why our stay in Xi’an was emotionally an up and down ride, you read in the next article!