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no one is free when others are oppressed

Kelsey and I used our second entry on our Chinese Visa's to travel to Beijing and it was really great. We decided since we only had two days to book a private tour through China Discovery to make sure we would be able to see everything. Our tour guide Roseline was great but the best was our driver. The whole experience was really great and I would highly recommend using them for your Beijing travel.
We headed out from the HK airport after work and arrived to Beijing at about midnight. We flew Hong Kong Airlines, where we took a bus from the terminal to our plane, and actually got on the place on the tarmac!
We stayed at SunWorld Hotel right in the central area of it all, and the hotel was great!

The first morning we got up and ate breakfast at the hotel then met our tour guide and went straight to the Great Wall of China. I walked outside in my tank top and shorts and immediately went back upstairs to change because it was so cold! Don't get me wrong, I loved it. It was like finally having fall weather again. By the time we arrived at the Great Wall, it was almost lunch time. It was a bit of a drive but the whole way out there out tour guide gave us many interesting facts about the place. We got a lovely view of the mountains on the way there as well. There is a small town at the base of the wall with many little shops and temples. 

We began climbing the never ending stairs and went as far as three towers. It was a lot of stairs and many of the people at the wall were probably over the age of 40. The hardest part was the uneven stairs. You would walk up one stair that was 3 inches high, then the next one was about a foot and a half. Kind of tricky. The place itself was beautiful and I really am glad I got to tick this off my bucket list.

um...did I mention there were a lotttt of stairs??

Ok but seriously, the smog there ain't no joke. I felt like I needed to fan the air in front of me because it was like a cloud constantly in your face. After the Great Wall, we headed to lunch at the Jade Factory. We did not get many pictures since this was one of those promotional things you had to do when you go on a tour where they show you how precious Jade is and then want you to buy things. They also had a restaurant there that we had to eat at. There were many tour groups here and the food was more of the American Chinese food you can find at home, not the authentic stuff, but hey, we had sweet and sour chicken! 

Next on the list came the Ming Dynasty underground tomb. While we were here it began to rain and our awesome driver literally searched the entire grounds to come find us to give us umbrellas. What an actual gem. The tombs were pretty cool till our guide told us there weren't actually any bodies in them.

replicas of what the Emperor and Empresses bodies should have been in 

 The gate in the picture below is called the Ying-Yang Gate and it is a symbol of one entering the living world so once you step through it, you are not suppose to look back at the tombs or it shows regret. 
The next stop was Olympic City where the 2008 Olympics were held. At this point, it is raining really hard and I was so bummed cause this was really something I wanted to see. The pictures turned out terrible because of the rain and we were just standing on some overpass but here they are....

The architecture is really amazing though and the thing is giant. It is kind of sad that it is just an empty shell now not really used for anything except tours. The tour ended for the day here and they took us back to our hotel. Once the rain stopped, Kelsey and I ventured out to find some dumplings for dinner. 

Everyone in Beijing only speaks Mandarin and we constantly were fighting the urge to speak in Cantonese or even English. Ordering was rather challenging at times, so a lot of pointing was happening.

We took a taxi from here to go explore Quianmen Street where there were many little food stands and tourist shops. Everyone said the Chinese people sell cooked insects like cockroaches and scorpions on the streets and we kept our eyes peeled but never saw any. We also accidentally found Tianamen Square and enjoyed its nighttime beauty and lights.

After standing on the street for over 45 minutes trying to catch a cab back to our hotel, we began to walk keeping our eyes open for an empty cab. Everyone warned us about Beijing being a scam city but so far we had not encountered anything. Finally a cab stopped for us where we practically jumped into it while it was still moving. We showed the cab driver our hotel card and he began driving. We noticed he made a wrong turn and we tried to call him out on it, but he just spoke to us in Mandarin, clearly knowing we don't speak the language and are obvious tourists. He keeps driving and there is nothing we can do about it. Eventually he makes a U-turn and stops in front of a random hotel that is clearly not our hotel which he then plays dumbs and realizes he knows where our hotel actually is. All in all he scammed us like $3 USD but it was still frustrating not being able to communicate that we knew what was going on. 

Next day, we ate breakfast at the hotel again then checked out and headed to the Temple of Heaven with our guide. The Temple of Heaven was kind of like a big park with many people playing games, Tai Chi, and many kinds of exercises. I really enjoyed it here and the weather could not have been more perfect.

A little up the road we got to try a tea ceremony where we had four different kinds of tea. Kelsey really enjoyed this one and bought half the store.
Lunch time again was at a place where many tour groups were at and not so much local food. We made a friend with the little boy at the table next to us though and he brought us these biscuits and said in the clearest English he could pronounce "Welcome to Beijing!". It was too cute.

So in China they have what we call mainlander bathrooms and it is basically just a hole in the ground. It takes some practice to get used to this and it is not so easy. Needless to say at one point Kelsey and I were laughing extremely hard because one of us peed on our shoe. I am not telling you who it was but it was hilarious. 

Next we went to Tianamen Square (in the daytime) and it was starting to get hotter at this point. In the car, we asked our guide about the Tianamen Square Massacre and she said she was actually not allowed to talk about it and all she could say was it was in 1989 and that was the reason Facebook and Google websites are blocked in China. The square itself is just kind of like a big blocked off parking lot area where there are many government buildings.  

Yes. That is Mao Zedong in the picture behind us....

That building is also the entrance into the Forbidden City.

The Forbidden City is huge. When you first walk in there is a giant courtyard area with giant temple like structures surrounding. 

The Forbidden City was built in 1406 and the ground in the picture above is the original walk way. Most of the Forbidden City has been rebuilt by now but it is where the Emperor's from the Ming and Ching Dynasty lived and worked. No one came in, no one went out. Since Dynasties no longer rule in China, it is now a place for visitors to come. Once you walk through the buildings in the photos above you walk into an area that looks almost identical, and this just keeps happening. I am also fairly certain this is where the finale of Mualn takes place if you watch the movie.

Mulan movie...totally looks like it right???
Emperors throne

The dragon bedroom, only used by each Emperor for their wedding and then never again

Only original building standing and it is held together by sticky rice 
As you exit the Forbidden city there is the chance to go up to the hill top and we didn't do it but here is a photo of what it looks like....


From here we headed back to the airport to go home. We were pretty exhausted by this point so we made a pit stop for some Starbucks. 

At the airport we did so much waiting because our flight was delayed. The flight was even more delayed because the air condition was broken, and they were frantically trying to fix it while the flight attendants patiently brought everyone cups of water. Needless to say, w
e were kind of losing our minds a bit by this point....

All in all, the trip was great and we really had fun. With time in Hong Kong fleeting quickly, I am trying really hard to stay in the moment. Only about 11 more days of my adventure with these wonderful people....

Thanks Chelsea for the awesome fan art!!

Signing off, 

had a beach day at Stanley (this is my name)

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1 comment

Bell Tsoi said...

wow you really enjoy your trip, i miss you dear see you soon

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