Last Stop: Beijing

Beijing has proven to be a worthy finishing point for our 7000 kilometer long train ride, much so because it has been so different than any of the other stops along the way. The first thing we did when getting off was to go out and literally get a taste of what the city had to offer with Peking duck at a Chinese restaurant first, and then a trip to the Dong Hua Menh night market for after meal snacks and desserts. A long street with plenty of food stalls offered all imaginable insects on sticks like spiders, snakes, worms and scorpions (the small ones were really good, tasting like popcorn) and good desserts like caramelized fruits and deep fried ice-cream.

On our second day we got to do the two things I would most reccomend when visiting Beijing which is to get the compulsory photo on the Great Wall and try haggle like a local on the Silk Market. For the wall we let our Honcho organize transport from our hotel (150CNY pp) for the two hours drive to MuTianYu part of the wall which cost 40 Yuan (/20 for students) to get into. The wall was pretty well filled up by tourists and had a chairlift and a tobogan at one end and a gondola on the other, with about two kilometres between the two. There was even a Subway restaurant at the bottom of the wall, with the worst subs everyone at the group had tasted. Once being in the critical mode I would also say that even though it was really interesting having been there, the Tianmen Square had way too long waiting time to be worth the trip to it and I also wish there was some kind of warning before going into the Forbidden City saying that it would require hours of walking. Once you entered on the south side, you would would not be let out anywhere else than the exit on the north side, having to walk through the whole Forbidden City, which is huge!

The best part of Beijing I think was renting a bike for our last day and then just bicycling around to join in on the tae chi or other excercises with the locals at the parks, and going through narrow streets to see how people live in the city of nearly 20 million. The locals were also easy to get in contact with at the restaurants right before closing time, as even though they could not speak a single work of English, they would all know the universal meaning of clinching our beers together with a smilinging , laughing or shouting Gambaii! /Cheers! China is also dirt cheap and will for sure leave some cultural impressions on you, or teach you new things like using a squatter with no toilet paper, using sign language for every little thing you want to say or haggling down prices to a tenth of the initial asking prices. 

If I would have had more time I would have wanted to spend another two nights in the shopping district or around Tianamen Square in addition to the two nights we had in the Xicheng District where our hotel Beijing Huguosi Hotel was located. The street that it was on was full of great restaurants, good sights around the neaby lake and best of all there were no other foreigners to see. Beijing is a great mix of both ancient cultural sights and fancy new skyscrapers and it can be worth trying to experience a good amount of both. 

Leave a comment