in Beijing, Forbidden City & Great Wall
Jun 27, 2003 10:04
nice place, huge beer bottles, fantastic Forbidden City, Great Wall-exciting
rainfal, communication problem
The journey on the train from Mongolia (30 hours) felt like a lifetime.
Travelling through Mongolia there was just nothing for hundreds
and hundreds of miles. I was beginning to miss the trees! We arrived
at the Chinese border to classical music playing. We were then wheeled
into the Bogey Changing Shed to have our bogeys changed. The Russian
railway lines are 10cm wider than any other railway lines, so they
have to change the wheels, (the Russians were paranoid about being
invaded). It was a train spotters paradise. After about 3 hours
of being shunted in and out of the station we were finally off and
we could finally get to bed. I woke up to paddy fields and mountains
which were a refreshing change from Mongolia.
We arrived in Beijing at about 3.00pm this afternoon. After eventually
getting some money changed we went to McDonalds. Nigel and I then
went looking for my Youth Hostel and his hotel as we'd figured out
they were practically next door to one another. After eventually
finding the Youth Hostel we couldn't find the entrance. We gave
up in the end and decided just to look for his hotel. We couldn't
find it either. We eventually got into the Youth Hostel and up to
the 10th floor. The doors opened onto a wooden wall. We then jumped
in a taxi to find the hotel, which turned out to be miles from the
hostel. We checked in and realised the woman had given us just one
room. She wanted to charge me double for my own room, so I decided
to get a taxi and try and find the other youth hostel. The taxi
driver had no idea where it was, even though I was pointing to it
on the map. He just kept saying 'hotel'. By this time it was starting
to pour with rain and thundering and I was getting tired so I just
said yes. The taxi took me right across Beijing and dropped me off
in the pouring rain. I was glad I was wearing sandals as I was ankle
deep in water. I went into the 'hotel' and asked if they had any
rooms and they brought me a bench to sit on. When the rain went
off I tried to figure out where I was on the map and tried to find
the youth hostel. I wandered for about an hour with my rucksack
getting heavier by the minute. I gave up in the end and headed back
to Tianamen Square but got completely lost. I ended up walking around
for 2 hours before I gave up at about 9.00pm and booked into the
Novotel - it was like being in heaven!!
Yesterday I walked without my rucksack to try and find the youth
hostel again, but after another hour I gave up. I was just walking
back to the hotel to check out when who should I bump into but Nigel.
We jumped in a taxi and once again the taxi driver had no idea where
the hostel was. I had to go on the internet and get the number for
the hostel and the doorman phoned to find out where it was. At about
1.00pm I finally had somewhere to stay and we also bumped into Rob,
Matt, Liam & Ash staying at the same hostel. We all jumped into
taxi's and headed back to Tianamen Square where we got soaked in
another downpour. We went to the Forbidden City but didn't go in
as we didn't think we'd have time. We had a beer on Tianamen Square.
We then walked for miles and stopped for another beer (chinese beers
are huge - about the size of a wine bottle. The alcohol level is
greater than or equal to, as the filtering process is not accurate,
so you never know how strong the beer actually is). About 5 beers
later we decided to get something to eat. Liam wanted to try sushi,
so we went to a Japanese restaurant which unfortunately didn't serve
sushi, so we ended up in KFC. It was then time to say goodbye to
Nigel who was heading off home.
I was awoken this morning by the other girls in my dormitory at
about 9.00am, so I got up and went to the supermarket to get some
stuff for breakfast. I then walked to The Forbidden City. It was
about an hours walk, but the temperature was 30+ so I was exhausted
by the time I got there. Once inside I was befriended by a Chinese
Art Student who wanted me to buy one of her paintings to fund her
trip to Europe. I'd read about this scam so I told her I had no
money and no credit card and managed to escape without having to
make a purchase.
The Forbidden City was fantastic and huge. I spent about 2 hours
wandering around, but could probably have spent quite a bit longer.
Twenty four different emperors have lived in the city during it's
time and it was once forbidden for the common people to enter (hence
the name). There were courtyards and little alleyways stretching
for miles and the most beautiful garden full of temples and ancient
I've booked a trip on the Great Wall tomorrow, so I'm off to bed
now as it's a very early start.
I got up at 7.30am this morning for a 3 hour bus ride to the Great
Wall. I had the choice of doing the touristy part of the wall at
Badaling, which is a very short walk along the wall with an amusement
park alongside. Option 2 that I went for was a 10km, 4 hour hike
along an older part of the wall, from Jinshanling to Simatai. It
started off okay, but a half hour into the walk I'd already finished
the litre bottle of water I'd brought, the temperature was +30oC
and I didn't think I'd make it. Imagine my relief to see a little
old man selling ice cold water in one of the old watch towers. We
were followed nearly half way along the wall by people trying to
sell us t-shirts and water. The scenery was amazing, mountains as
far as you could see. It was hard work though. Some parts of the
wall we had to climb using our hands & feet. It was quite a
relief when the cloud came over and it was much cooler - I don't
think I'd have made it otherwise. We finally made it to the end.
There was a bit of a walk down the hillside into the village to
pick up our bus. Some of us decided to go down via the Flying Fox
which was great fun. It was really high up over a lake. Once at
the other side we got a speedboat across into the village. It was
a very nice end to the hike.
When we arrived in the village we were told that we were the first
tourists to come over the wall since the SARS restrictions had been
lifted. We got a half price meal in the restaurant to celebrate
and then another 3 hours back in the bus to the hostel. I'm ready
for bed now.
Off to Hong Kong tomorrow.