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The Chinese capital

View Round-the-world-trip on samandmarta's travel map.

Our train crossed the line of the Great Wall around 6:30 in the morning. Too early for us to get up after the late night border procedures, but we would see it more closely at a later point anyway. When we woke up hours later, the train was following a river through a scenic valley, with the views frequently interrupted by small tunnels. Soon after, increasingly large cities went past us until we arrived in the Chinese capital. Beijing marked the end of the Trans-Mongolian railway line, which we have followed all the way from Moscow for a total of 7620 km.


Our hotel has prepared a handy direction card for us in Chinese, so we could show it to a taxi driver. Surprisingly however, it was impossible to get a taxi at the railway station. As it turned out, taxis in Beijing are quite rare and if you look like a Westerner, they won’t stop for you as dealing with people who do not speak Chinese would be too much of a burden. After 30 minutes of trying to get a taxi, we gave up and took the subway instead which was much easier. Our hotel was located in a hutong, a traditional Chinese narrow alleyway, and was beautifully decorated in the traditional Chinese style with red lit lampions. We spent the afternoon relaxing from the long journey.


The first 2 full days in Beijing, we spent exploring the sights of the city. We visited the Forbidden City, the Lama Temple, the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace. Overall, we felt like we could easily spend a week in and around Beijing without getting bored. Our favorite sights were the Lama Temple, a beautiful Buddhist temple, and the Summer Palace, a huge park around a lake with many interesting buildings to explore. A bit disappointing was the Forbidden City, probably the most famous tourist attraction in Beijing. Besides being swarmed with tourists, the city filled with its temple-like buildings surprised with its monotony. All the temples there basically look the same and once you’ve seen one, exploring the other hundred seems a bit pointless, unless one is super-interested in the history of Chinese emperors and which emperor used which building for which purpose. We also wanted to see Tiananmen square, but the People Square of Beijing was closed for people to visit and heavily guarded by military.


After Mongolia, dining in Beijing was a great joy for us. There were many different branches of Chinese cuisine to explore, Cantonese, Yunnan and Sichuan, and almost everywhere we ate, the food was excellent.


On our third full day, we went to see the Great Wall, obviously a must see when in Beijing. To get a more original and unspoilt experience we chose to travel a bit farther to the less-visited and partially unrestored section of the wall called Jin Shan Ling. There we could hike for 3½ hours along the wall and enjoy the fantastic views of the wall, climbing over mountain after mountain into the distance. The hike was quite strenuous, as some parts were extremely steep.


On the last day we spent the morning relaxing and Sam got a new haircut. At 2pm we took the bullet train to Shanghai, to our knowledge the fastest train in the world, moving at up to 350 km/h.


Posted by samandmarta 18:00 Archived in China

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Like you I was very underwhelmed by the forbidden city.

by irenevt

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