Time went by so fast, my time in China is already over! Because of the National Holidays the first week of October is the main travel season in China. I also had one week holidays and used the time to visit Beijing!
I stayed in a hostel near the Forbidden City. It is located in one of the old Hutong areas and I had a very pleasant stay there. On the roof terrace I liked to relax after the exciting sight-seeing tours.
Immediate on the first day in Beijing I visited the Great Wall. Together with other hostel guests I share a minibus which drove us to Jinshanling. It takes three hours to drive there, but it was worthwhile! This part of the Wall is not restored and there are not so many tourists. The weather was great: sunshine with blue sky. To walk on the Great Wall is mostly climbing steps and there are sometimes really high steps. The view and the Wall itself were breathtaking. After three hours we needed to go back down the hill to have lunch. The lunch was typical Chinese like my usual lunch in the canteen. And in the end a three hours drive back to the hostel.
The next day I got an experience who many Chinese people had the same idea as my, to visit the Forbidden City on the National Day! First I went to the Jingshan Park north of the Forbidden City. From the hill inside the park you have a nice view over the Forbidden City. After that I needed to go down to the south entrance of the Forbidden City by subway. This time I had the chance to see and feel how people are pulled into the subway. When I got off the train I had no idea which direction I had to go to buy tickets, but it was not necessary to know the way, I just had to swim with the crowd! Surprisingly I just needed to wait 10 minutes for my tickets, because 24 ticket desks were open. After entering the first big courtyard of the Forbidden City the crowd spread in the large space, so that it didn’t seem to be as crowded as I had expected! The Forbidden City is located on such a big area that you can spend a whole day there and you can not be sure that you discovered everything. It is amazing!
The Beihai Park with a big lake in the middle is located east of the Forbidden City. It could be a wonderful place to relax and to escape from the loud and crowded tourist hot spots… if it would not be crowded itself that much! I entered the park from the north entrance and reached a really beautiful part of the park. It was one of the most beautiful places I have seen here in China. When I went down to the water front I had to share the space with hundreds of other tourists again. I paused at a snack shop and ordered dumplings with meat. It was delicious! After that I went for a walk around the lake. In the evening I visited the Tiananmen Square and Qianmen Lu, a street in the south of the square with restaurants and bars. In the small side roads you can buy food and souvenirs from street vendors. One of them even sold fried scorpions, snakes and tarantulas. No, I did NOT try!
The following day I spent at the Summer Palace. The area is very big and the park consists mainly of a lake. With a ferry you can reach an island. One day is nearly too short to enjoy this nice place.
After four days of walking through the city I decided to rent a bicycle for one day. I decided to take one of the very old and cheap bicycles, which nobody would like to steal. The breaks hardly worked but I really liked to discover the city by bike! I drove to the Temple of Heaven and took a look at the circular sacrificial altar where animals were immolated in earlier times. If you have visited a lot of different temple in China, you get the expression that all look the same. The Temple of Heaven is special because it is circular. After that I continued my bicycle tour up to the north. When I past the Forbidden City it was quite a challenge to drive through the crowd of people. I only got it by pinging non-stop! This day the sun was hidden by the clouds and I climbed up the hill inside of the Jingshan Park again to take pictures of the Forbidden City without back light. After that I finished my bicycle tour by driving south again and returned the bike. At night I went to a restaurant at the Qianhai Lake, it is located north of the Jingshan Park. The area around the lake is full of bars, restaurants und clubs. Everything is illuminated colourful and on the lake people drive pedal boats . It is a very nice place at night.
The last day in Beijing I used to visit a second part of the Great Wall. I booked a very cheap tour to Mutianyu. This part of the Wall is not as far away as Jinshanling but before we drove to the Wall we stopped at three souvenir shops. Perhaps that sounds as if it was not a good idea to book such a cheap tour, but it wasn’t. First we got a tee ceremony for free, then we stopped at a pearl shop and finally we visited a silk shop. The shops were all nice, we always got an introduction in the products for free and nobody forced us to buy anything. When we reached the Wall it was time for lunch and after that we had two hours time to discover the Wall on our own. Two hours were enough to climb up, walk to the highest point on the Wall and take a lot of pictures. In the end we drove back and stopped at our last souvenir shop which was more like a hospital. Everyone of our small tourist group (8 people) got a foot massage for free and you could get a medical consultation by a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine. For the complete day trip I paid about 20 euro and was very happy about all the things we got for free. After this very cheap day I went to an expensive roasted duck restaurant to eat Beijing-Duck. It was really the best I have eaten for a long time! We ate it in the traditional way: The duck is cut in small thin peaces and you wrap a few peaces in very thin pancake together with a delicious black sauce and some vegetables and garlic. You are allowed to eat the wrapped duck with your hands but I used chopsticks, I already got used to it. Oily beans and peas are the worst to pick with chopsticks but also that I can manage till now!
The Beijing-Duck was the highlight and also the closing of my holidays in Beijing. I got to see everything I planed to visit and got unforgettable impressions! Not only in Beijing also on my weekend trips I have seen a lot of interesting things and met friendly people. It was a nice time that I won’t miss, but time goes by too fast! I hope I can return to China some day to get to know more of this big country with a lot of beautiful places.
To have a look at the pictures corresponding to this post please open the German post “Abschlussbericht”.