The Great Wall!!
Beijing Travel Blog› entry 32 of 35 › view all entries
During our 2nd week in China we visited 3 of Beijing's parks; Ritan, Zhongshan and Jingshan. Ritan park (should be re-named 'crazy park'!) was full of old Chinese people walking around clapping their hands, singing opera (which I loved!) and performing elaborate muscle stretches against trees! We enjoyed our stroll around the park, admiring the pavillions and scenery and people watching.
The second park was Zhongshan which similarly to Ritan contained a number of pretty pavillions and had some awesome settings for photos (once the locals got out of the way!).
We visited Jingshan park twice, mainly because on the first visit our camera battery had run out and the view was too amazing to miss photographing (quite literally worth paying the entrance fee twice over!!)! Jingshan park consists mainly of a large hill (made from the earth dug out to create the moat surrounding the Forbidden City), ontop of which sits a Pagoda where you can see the Forbidden City in it's entirity. The view from the top was actually breathtaking (you can see the many red/gold rooftops stretching over the horizon)! Back on lower ground we found the tree where the last Emporer of the Ming Dynasty, Chongzen, and his eunuch attendant hanged themselves (gruesome!)!
After viewing it from above it was time to set foot in the Forbidden City! We found ourselves walking around the beautiful, ornate, traditional buildings, inside which stood the thrones of Emporers, each gilded with intricate patterns (so overall pretty impressive. A bit samey though!). We stopped for a break inside the city at a little teashop for some real chinese tea. Jasmine for me and grapefruit for Jim (although mine was far from traditional it was probably the best tea I've had in a long time!).
Now the one you've all been waiting for. The Great Wall of China! We got up early for our day trip there to find it was raining for the first time since arriving in Beijing! Typical (we didn't let that get us down though!)!! After the long journey, we arrived, walked the gauntlet of stalls, where Jim brought a green poncho (yes thats right, im sure you'll all have a good laugh at the photos!) to sheild him from what had now turned to wet snow (in fairness I found out how much our guide spent on her poncho - 10 yuan - and when I went to buy one the stall owner tried to charge 45 yuan! I got it for the Chinese price in the end! Score 1 for the foreigner!)! We got a cable car to the top where we found the great wall covered in a blanket of snow! We walked up some steps, under an arch and onto the wall itself. Our guide gave us the option of going left or right. The American guy from the 3 person family on our tour suggested left (and we all agreed) however, it turned out some important Chinese general was visiting the wall so our only choice was to go right as left had been sectioned off for him. We started what became the intrepid and hazardous task of walking along the Great Wall (this thing is quite literally built in the shape of the hills it stands upon, meaning steep!). It was very slippery and the 2 hours we spent there consisted mainly of us hugging the wall in the hope we didn't slip over (this was pretty comical, especially as I was wearing a green anorak!)! Despite this, the weather far from spoiled our experience. Our group of 5 were amongst the few visitors to the wall (making the trip less of a tourist trap than usual!) and we even managed to take some photos of the wall without anyone else in them! Once we were completely frozen to the bone we headed back and went for our free lunch (a tasty selection of chinese dishes such as Kung Po), before returning to our hotel, where we decided this was by far our best day in China!