The capital of China! Beijing has been a hustling and bustling city, like I thought it would be. We began our time here by taking a bus 2 for 2 hours to reach one of the seven wonders of the world; The Great Wall! We stayed in a lovely hotel on our overnight stay because, sadly, as it is still the cold season we were not able to camp on the wall. Dragon Trip does offer this if you visit the Great Wall in the warmer months though and it would be an amazing experience! The Wall itself is phenomenal. Once we climbed high enough up the ancient steps, as far as the eye can see, there it snakes its way amongst the hills. Every high point I reached I felt the view just got more and more beautiful. It wasn’t until we had been trekking for 2 hours that we reached what was definitely our favourite viewpoint.
We hiked until it got dark and we were absolutely freezing! There was even ice on the Wall! We boarded our bus and then went to a nearby farmhouse for a nice hot Chinese dinner. After dinner we had a bonfire! We came prepared with marshmallows and a Chinese version of these chocolate wagon wheel type things, great explanation I know. What a great dessert! Then we got cracking on the Chinese whisky and some dancing by the fire. I did my impression of a tribal dance and won a lovely purse from our tour guide! I gave this to Stacey as she had her eye set on it earlier from the Mandarin speaking competition but won a bookmark which she gave to me, you’re welcome Stace! And I will think of you when I use my book mark. It was a night full of laughs and delicious roasted marshmallows.
The next morning was an early one as we got up at 5.30 to catch the sunrise back on The Wall. We hiked to the second guard tower to get a good vantage point. Whilst we waited for the sun to rise over the mountain we weer absolutely freezing our butts off! I’ve never had 7 layers of clothing on before and still been that cold. So if you go make sure you do layer up. Gloves would’ve been great but I hadn’t bought any yet! The sunrise was so pretty and being in such a historic place only made it that much more meaningful.
We ventured back into Beijing city to our hostel. We rested and refreshed for a little while and then we took a stroll to Tianemen Square. Our guide told us that this GIANT square is surrounded by 4 buildings; the North and South gates, The Great Hall of the People and Mao’s mausoleum. In the centre of the square a great monument is erected called the Monument to the People’s Heroes. We then continued on to the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City previously housed China’s emperor’s and their households and it now holds ancient artifacts from the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
For dinner we were treated to Beijing special, Peking roasted duck! I have been going solidly since entering China as a vegetarian by choice due to, honestly, not wanting to accidentally eat dog or something because well who knows what you’re being fed. Duck is one of the best meats I have ever had in my life. The skin is crispy and duck combined with the pancakes, cucumber, sauce, onion and sugar is just the best thing you’ve ever tasted!
It was the birthday eve of one of our favourite girls from the Dragon Trip group, none other than Miss Emily Bunyan! We played Kings Cup (“Ring of Fire” for you weird Brits!) for pre drinks and then hit the Beijing nightlife. We ended up catching the metro to a line of clubs that were hybrid karaoke/strip clubs! We found one just in time for a 12 o’clock beer, cheers and a Happy Birthday song for Emily’s 21st celebrations. Hope it was wonderful again Em. And we are glad you loved Gary, you’re balloon Giraffe!
The next day was a bit of a relaxed day. We did go to the good old Fake Market though! This was a great complex that looks like any normal shopping centre but with anything you’re heart could desire at a bargain price if you’re like Sam and know how to bargain well. Our best buy was a GoPro wrist strap and chest strap with another connection for only $8 AUD! That night the group secretly went in for a cake for the birthday girl. A cake which supposedly fed 7-12 people but check out the size of it!!! 7-12 sumo’s maybe…
Well that’s it for Beijing! Now we are in transit via night train again (our 4th one! Don’t worry they’re very enjoyable with a large group like our Dragon Trip group!). We are onto Moganshan the small country town, almost like Yangshou but less touristy and much more original China with its bamboo forests and farmhouses in the hills.
Sam and Kirsten x