"Beautiful Days in Beijing" Beijing Travelogue by purplefeet
Beijing Travel Guide: 6,610 reviews and 16,785 photos
I am not a fan of travelling long distances via train and was actually dreading this trip from Shanghai to Beijing on a train. Luckily, we got on board a sleeper train though much pricier than the usual seater trains. Looking back, it was all well worth it because of the comfort.
You have to lineup going into the temples because the number of people being let in are controlled so as not to make the square too crowded. Be ready to walk and walk and walk. It was a good day as the skies are clear and the wind crisp and cool.
It was a very good decision coming to China in October as the leaves of the trees lining the lake inside the grand Summer Palace were already in their golden yellow colors. We didn't join any travel group and did everything all by ourselves. We arrived here after lunch and was treated to cool breezes as we walked through the series of courtyards. The lake inside the summer palace is a surprise and provided the perfect backdrop for photo ops. The minute details of each temple carefully carved on its wall inside and out were unforgettable.
A trip to Beijing without going and climbing any section of the Great Wall of China is like going into a plush resto and having just water - it's just not right. Quite an injustice if you are a traveler. And so, our day 2 begins with taking that torturous step outside the hostel with cold wind blowing on our faces. By this time, we are actually enjoying the cold weather, such a welcome respite from the hot, humid manila we have left behind. We booked our day2 itinerary with a tourist guide and with lots of haggling, i think we got ourselves a good deal actually since we thought going to the Great Wall all by ourselves might be too risky. Looking back, I haven't really thought if we were correct after all. We were collected by the tourist guide from our hostel and after a side trip to a shop which no one really cared what we would find, we headed to the Badaling section of the Great Wall. It is touristy, crowded and with not much of an unspoilt view - were said of this section. Well, being first timers, we just thought it wouldn't hurt to start with the touristy side. There were already a lot of bus parked ahead of us but to say it's crowded is actually an overstatement. It is a tourist destination, what do we expect? And so we parted with our tourist guide and promised to be back near the bus by half past 11 in the morning. It was 9AM when we started our ascent the flight of concrete steps. An amazing memory will be of those handicapped still finding their step up the walls. After an hour, I stripped my jacket off and went on just wearing a knitted vest over my white shirt with my neck warmer tied loosely. By this time, I was already sweating, amazing, considering the high altitude and the cold air around us. We stopped for a few more times, cam whoring and taking breaks to admire the view from way up. We would have loved to go on but our watches and tired feet say it's time to start our descent. By quarter before 12, we were back in the van.
After downing a feast for lunch, our tour group went on to check the Bird's Nest and Water Cube, both of which were famous sites of the recently-concluded Olympics in Beijing. We were treated to magnificent views as the sun set and the lamp posts cast their yellow light on the promenade. By dinner time, our stomachs must have been cursing us already. But as I've said finding good food is never a problem. So we went by our eyes looking through pictures of food posted on the restaurants we have checked and decided to go into this restaurant where some tourists were dining. We were caught by surprise when finally the fish we ordered came. It was a whole fish, around 14 inches in length, with meat on both sides carved like ribbons. It was an amazing sight. And since it came out last, by the time were already so full, I remember having that as take out and eating it for breakfast the following day.
Our last day in Beijing was spent checking out the Temple of Heaven and stores near our hostel as we have just a halfday to kill before we head back to Shanghai that same night. Just like the Summer Palace, the Temple Heaven is full of tourists taking in their fill of this ancient Chinese architecture. The temples and promenade surrounding each one is so grand even the concrete steps are carved. Take time to read the inscription near each temple to know its significance. Of course, this day ended earlier than usual with an early dinner at a nearby resto. Again, the fish brought a mild shock wave at us when it was slapped on the concrete floor by the cook. Okay, we get it, they have to show it's fresh.
It was a horror train story meant to be written. We were listening to our cheapskate souls and got a terrible end to this otherwise glorious Beijing trip. The four of us were booked on separate seater trains, but the real shocker was journeying 16 hours with strangers. The luggages were thrown everywhere where it would fit. My backpack Gokou stayed under the table, nestled above my feet killing it with its weight over time. My friend was seated next to me, facing two Chinese males for the duration of the journey. A pack of teenagers were on our left and luckily it was just the window to my right. There were a lot of card games, laughter, eating and talking going on around us that it was just impossible to catch some sleep. For the duration of this 16 hour ride, I was able to sleep for just an hour or so. It was an ordeal I pray I wouldn't have to go through again.
Yes, it will be the dining experience that will surely stick to me for yearsand I know it was meant to be.
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