Day 1: Airplanes
To get to China you have to fly, to most of us that is pretty clear. I have flown quite a lot, but this flight was pretty unique. It was the Dutch operator KLM, but almost the whole flight was filled with Chinese. Even the flight attendants were Chinese and I could not speak Dutch with them. It was a good flight but sadly no sleep.Â During check-in at the airport I already met some people of the group I am going to travel with. In Beijing I met the rest. It is quite a diverse group in all kinds of age ranges and some of them are travelling alone like me.
Day 2: Temples
So this second day (transition without sleep) had immediately a good start. After a quick freshen up we went with all of us for a nice lunchâ€¦ and boy… was that delicious! If that continues for the rest of the vacation I will be a happy man with a full stomach. We followed our guides to the subway that we needed to get us to the next destination of the day: The Lama Temple. It was quite a nice set of buildings with a lot of statues inside. I could walk there for hours and study this unique architecture. Another thing that was quite interesting to witness were the Chinese locals and to see them pray between the hand full tourists. Afterwards we went to the Temple of Heaven. This place was a unique place to watch old buildings like temples and other structures but was also a place to see Chinese people entertain themselves and others with singing or doing exercises. When we got back to the hotel we went for some noodles and beer. That was our first encounter with not speaking Mandarin. We managed to get something to eat, not what we wanted but it was good nonetheless!
Day 3: Forbidden squares with rice wine
This day was meant for visiting one of the big highlights of Beijing: The Forbidden City. This royal palace was forbidden to enter for many years. Nowadays that is not the case, the Chinese came in huge numbers. Western tourists were rarely seen with that many Chinese. The buildings were beautiful but I was more interested in all the Chinese families with weird clothes and their selfie sticks. I also caught one who took a picture of me the weird western guy. After a nice walk through this city we also visited the hill at the end of the city. There is a nice small temple on top with a nice view over a smoggy Beijing.
After a lunch with only international dishes which we could eat with knife and fork we went to National museum where we had to drink from our water bottles to let the security know that it was not poison. After watching some old stuff, I had a nice walk back over the Tian’anmen square back to our meeting point. Afterwards we had another long walk through small alleys to get an impression of how some locals are living. They have for example no bathroom, they have to use a public (and smelly) restroom. After the walk we arrived at the theatre where we could watch Chinese acrobats perform. And wow that was good. There were no lifelines present and the stunts were pretty daring.
We ended the day with a bang, after eating the famous Beijing duck, the next table offered us free drinks: vodka and rice wine. Both parties had a lot of fun and lots of pictures were taken. Finally we were allowed to go the hotel after this long day.
Day 4: Rainy walls and cloudy summer palaces
This day was special. It was time for me to meet one of the world wonders: The Great Wall. Sadly it was raining, but to be honest it resulted in beautiful haunted pictures of wall parts Â in the mist. There were two rounds you could walk over the wall. I started with the small one, sadly I could not finish the big round. But it was all well worth it, steep and slippery but well worth it!
After a nice delicious dinner (Chinese food is the best) we went to the summer palace. This retreat for meant for the Empress mother. We took the boat over the lake and had a nice walk. We went for some treasure hunting but sadly could not find the geocache. After a nice stroll back we went back to the hotel where we had the evening off. In the evening I want to the supermarket to get me something to eat in the hotel.