28th Jul 2012 - 31st Jul 2012
Beijing: The Big Ones
Beijing proved to be the most sight filled stop on the trip. First day, we arrived in the early morning, checked in then made straight for Tein'anmen Square. We were going to visit Mao as well, but he was closed for business so just headed back for a bit of a rest. That evening we had Peking duck (in Peking, as Beijing used to be called) which was delicious! It was basically the same as back home, but instead of shredding the duck they sliced it (in the restaurant we went to, we didn't know if this was the norm). We both agreed that this meant you could taste the duck much more.
The next day we headed to Mao again, only to find a ginormous queue as it was so hot and sunny. Tom had worn his flip flops, which apparently Mao doesn't like so we were turned away. Instead we headed into the Forbidden City. It was yet another scorching hot day and the crowds in the city were once again daunting. We pursevered and eventually made it though the main central section. This had all the big impressive buildings as well as a lovely river and, at the end, the palace gardens. These were particularly beautiful with trees in the style of bonsai trees, huge, strange rock formations and stunning buildings. Next we headed for the west section, as our map and accompanying booklet suggested. Tom recieved his own personal guide round the city; Maz reading from the booklet! This section proved to be a bit repetitious, all the building were the same, and eventually we got a bit lost, found where we were and realise we'd missed a bit. By this time we were quite tired, very hot and had eaten about a million ice lollies (actually it was 3 or 4 by this point). We headed for the east section which, annoyingly we had to pay another fee to get to. We paid it as we wanted to see the Wall of Nine Dragons, which was cool. Heading through again and it was much the same as the east section, except at the end there was a display of sculptures (part of what we had to pay extra for) that had giant sculptures of mountains with building on made completely from jade. Tom and I decided that 90% of the worlds jade was housed there!
The next day was the biggy: The Great Wall. We had to go on a tour for this, unfortunately, as the part of the wall we wanted to see was 3 and a 1/2 hours away on the bus, probably much longer by public transport, which meant we would have had little time on the wall. As it turned out we had almost 4 hours there and were left to our own devises, we just had to be back by a certain time. The part of the wall we visited was Jinshanling, and was the most unrestored part of the wall. We were told that it hadn't been restored at all, but some of it had. We were happy about this though, as it meant we got to walk on the original wall and also what it looked like when it was first built. It was absolutely stunning, snaking over the lush green hills. The sight and the thrill are indescribable. We walk 2 hours along the wall then 2 hours back. When I say walk, I meant trek! It was all steep uphill, stairs and the same going down. The whole thing was simply awe-inspiring. That night as a treat for such a hard walk we had Peking duck again!
Our last day in Beijing was very raining so when we finally got to see Mao we were straight in and out. Hardly a queue in sight. It was very strange seeing him, he looked aslepp, but mostly like a waxwork figure, but it was strange knowing he was an actualy real dead body. After that we headed to the Natural History Museum which took some searching (about 3 hours) as the guy in our hostel wrote something wrong. It turned out we were there (the sign is only in Chinese) but when we showed the guy our peice of paper he shook his head. Eventually we got in, after a trip back to the hostel, and had a look around. They had mammoth skulls and tusks and lots of dinosaurs. They had a cool walk through bit with models of dinosuars. My favourite was a doppey looking dino about to get his neck chomped on and another model of a dino with another in his jaws made of foam so it was all floppy! Next we headed upstairs to see all the animals. They had a cool list of all the endangered animals in the world, but it was in Chinese, and a stuffed tiger and polar bear. Lastly, we went down to the basement which we had been told housed pickled human genitalia (shout-out Emma). This was indeed the case and it was gross but interesting. My fave bit of this though was a rather spacious dome that was a womb; when you sat in it it was like being in the womb again, apparently. It was a bit more spacious that you would expect! We headed back for an early dinner before going to one of the highlights of the trip; a Kung-Fu show by Shao Lin monks! We payed for this through our hotel (same price as box office, we checked!) and got a free lift to the show. There were two other guys in the car and with us at the show; Burni and Devon, who were both very nice. The show was immense! They were all in time, hard as rocks, and just so talented. They balanced on their stomachs on the points of spears and broke daggers on their heads! The whole show had a story of one monk, from arriving at the monastery and progressing to an abbott. It was AMAZING! As we only had a lift there we had to get the tube back and went to the olympic village on the way back. Unfortunately it was closed so we only got to see the about a quarter of the birds nest and water cube. It was a shame as the pictures of them at night look really impressive, but we were leaving in the morning and it was our last chance to see them.
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