First stop - Beijing
02.04.2016 - 05.05.2016
Anyone that knows me knows that for me, it has been a dream for some time to get to China! I have always loved the thought of it, from the people to the food to that pretty big wall, it all enticed me. I found it baffling that other people did not share the same ideals about China and, because of this, it has taken me some time to get there. However, FINALLY, around July last year I was talking (yet again) about how much I want to go and my sister, Morgan, comes out with the best words she has ever said to me..."I'll come with ya" - it is safe to say the flights were booked within a month so there was no backing out. China here we come!
Our first out of three stops was in Beijing. I was going to write this in order of what happened, however, I cannot wait to talk about The Great Wall of China. I know that, when you think of China, it is probably the most likely thing that you are going to think about and I really wanted something different and maybe a bit unique to be my favourite thing, but there is just nothing like it. We had decided to do a trip and, seeing as we were not likely to ever do it again, we wanted to go all out. So, we booked a 2-day trip which involved camping on the wall overnight. I had never heard of this before or knew of anyone that had done it, so I was so happy when we found this trip. It is only during the trip that we found out that this is actually illegal and that is why it is not really advertised, so we were lucky to stumble across it! The morning of the trip we were picked up in a minibus with our group for the day and set off out of the city. We got to the base and set off on a 3/4 hour trek along the wall. The biggest shock for me was how steep the wall was! It was close to vertical! It was a lot tougher than I could have ever expected but, my word, the views were phenomenal. It was really amazing and to be able to look ahead and see the wall going on and on and never ending, then turn back and see the same thing - just wow. The walk brought us around to the other side where we got picked up by the mini bus and taken back to the base.
We had lunch at the base then set off in the other direction to another part of the wall - this time with heavy bags on our back with our tents and sleeping bags etc. This did make the walk even harder and I swear it god steeper! This walk was around another 2 hours then we stopped near one of the wall towers and set up camp. What was amazing was that not long after we had set up camp, the wall was deserted. There was 7 of us in the group and we were the only people on the wall. It was so quiet and peaceful. We found a handmade ladder which was a little unstable but thought why not! We climbed up to the top of the wall tower and were up there as the sun set, it was beautiful. Best sunset I have ever seen! If you are considering going to see the wall, you need to camp on it because you will never do anything better!
Whilst in Beijing we also went to see the Temple of Heaven, which was lovely. I thought it was going to be just a temple, however, the park it was set in was huge and there was so much going on. We saw lots of people dancing around and a hall where everyone was just joining in singing - all sorts!
We also went to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, which were both not really what I was expecting. I thought that the square was going to have a lot going on and be really busy, but when we were there that was really not the case. However, it is still great to see and to get around China's capital city.
There were a few things that stood out for me from Beijing. The first thing being the language barrier. I know it is probably very small minded of me to assume that people would speak English, but I did think that people would speak English - at least to some lever. However, I could not have been more wrong. Literally no one spoke a word of it. And, further more, they also did not read the Chinese words that we would attempt to say, only the Mandarin symbols! Once we got lost and it took ages for us to find our way back, despite asking people for help and even getting in a taxi to be told no he did not know where we meant. It was a lot harder than I expected, but in a way, this added to the idea of being so far away and travelling.
Another part of Beijing that stands out for me is the fact that I felt like a celebrity most of the time we were there! Because we were white and most of the tourists from inland China and had never seen white people before, we got asked for so many photos. At one point there was a group of around 12 young girls who wanted an individual photo with me and my sister - it took ages!
Also - if you do not like people spitting, brace yourselves!!
Beijing was great and, by far, the best part was seeing the Great Wall of China - get there!