Being In Beijing, Beijing

Beijing Travel Blog

 › entry 17 of 94 › view all entries
In Tiananmen Square with Chairman Mao in the background
I knew I was going to fall in love with China; the flight over had foretold it and being a believer in fate, I was excited.

The flight from Dubai to Beijing had seen me reunited with a woman who I came to know as Saint Joanne. She was the flight attendant who had administered oxygen on the Dubai - Cairo leg and was now in front of me asking me if I wanted chicken or fish. I was too excited to answer that question and could only blurt out “You!” and point at her and grin madly. Thankfully Joanne had remembered me, otherwise my behaviour would have been concerning in such a small area, and she told me that I looked a lot better than the last time she had seen me. This was very sweet of her to say especially as I was wearing the same clothes I had been wearing for over a week, had not brushed my hair for days, oh and yes - I wasn’t passed out in front of her.
The Great Wall
Joanne really knew how to make the passenger feel special (and oxygenated).

After arriving at Beijing airport, I was processed and the Chinese immigration officer broke the stern stereotype and proved she had a sense of humour and smiled (ever so briefly) at my passport photo. This passport photo is proving to be quite the icebreaker and conversation starter wherever I go!

First impression of Beijing - green. Everything is so lush, and when you compare it to the recently departed North Africa, it is so beautifully green with little parks dotted around the city with wonderfully manicured grass. However, I have since learnt that the grass is not for walking on, or sitting on, or rolling on it, but rather for looking at and for having photos beside, or behind, but definitely NOT for walking on…

The sites visited while in Beijing included the Silk Market (where I could practice my highly developed haggling skills that I learnt off my mother and where I got some very good bargains), the Temple of Heaven (which at 35 Yuan was a lovely day out of the traffic and a chance to walk around nature and see the locals playing cards or Mahjong under the Long Corridor), the Forbidden City (at 60 Yuan - you don’t need a tour guide as the signage there is adequate and there are some lovely spots in the garden out the back for a picnic), the Mausoleum (Maosoleum) of Chairman Mao (a place where an elderly woman who was walking in front of me wept and flung herself onto the ground, prostrating herself several times in front of the deceased leader) and just sitting in Tiananmen Square watching the world go by and having my photo taken by every Chinese person there - okay well not everyone, but a lot, so many that I now consider myself a rock star.
I climbed that!
However, it was the Great Wall of China which proved to be the highlight of the visit to the capital so far.

The Great Wall of China is aptly named and is exactly as the name suggests, a wall in China that is great. Rather than doing the popular section of the wall with thousands of tourists clogging up my photos (Libya has ruined me!), we went to the lesser known, but infinitely better section; Jinshanling to Simatai.

Simatai bills itself as the most dangerous section of the wall. Physically it is the hardest thing I have ever had to do, as the seven-kilometre walk is not a simple one-foot in front of the other kind of stroll. Some parts of the wall you’re so busy watching your feet and the gradient is so steep you need to use your feet and hands to clamber up in a lizard like scale of the wall.
Parts of the wall I scaled on my hands and feet.
However, after four hours of agony, and two t-shirts completely wet from sweat, (and they say ‘woman only glow’), I had completed it.

This ‘walk’ has been a real highlight of my journey thus far. Better still, I have been living with the muscle pains for the past five days, so the experience not only lives in my mind, but also in my calves for me to continue remembering my achievement.

Tonight I’m off on an overnight train to Xi’an, (11 hours) and the place where I will visit the Terracotta Warriors; another tick on my ‘Must See’ list of sights. Until then …. Zai Jian from China.
spocklogic says:
I visited Beijing during Chinese New Year in 2010, so I didn't have a chance to see how green everything is from your descriptions. Perhaps I will return to China again in the green season. The Chinese New Year experience was definitely well worth it too, although quite cold when I visited.
Posted on: Jan 08, 2011
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In Tiananmen Square with Chairman …
In Tiananmen Square with Chairman…
The Great Wall
The Great Wall
I climbed that!
I climbed that!
Parts of the wall I scaled on my h…
Parts of the wall I scaled on my …
Me in front of the section of wall…
Me in front of the section of wal…
A lovely elderly gentleman in the …
A lovely elderly gentleman in the…
photo by: Eric