Here you’ll find travel reports about Beijing. Discover travel destinations in China of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

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  • Day2

    After a nap we needed food, we thought peking duck would be a logical choice and we noted the address of the nearest recommended venue. However it must have moved or closed or we couldn't recognise we walked round and found a Beef hot pot restaurant English spoken but the menu had translations...I think that was the first bit that unnerved dad - intestine hotpot didn't seem to appeal nor black tripe and that was just what we spotted before an accommodating staff member trotted over with a translated phrase on his phone - "we have a two person special would you like that"? What we got was some vegetation - still growing in a pot, some crispy carbohydrate of some sort, two trays of raw beef, two pots of funky peanut'y sauce and a huge steaming pot containing taro, peppers, beef, and lots of coriander. We worked out a method for cooking the beef by gripping it between enormous cooking chopsticks and swirling it in the pot..tasty but chewy, we crunched some of the unknown golden fried carbohydrate and then the staff took pity on is and came to help us out. We'd been doing it all wrong...mostly slowly and inefficently rather than anything else. Except for the fried carb..which we were supposed to add to the stock until it went floppy...and took on the consistency of old leather. By this time Dad had decided he really didn't care for beef and in the end I decided I couldn't cope with anymore coriander..I had done my best to avoid but it kept sneaking through. We admitted defeat, finished our Yanping Beer and paid up... An interesting experience but not as good as last nights noodlesRead more

  • Day3

    So we hopped back in the car and settled in for the drive back to Beijing, in less than 5 minutes we had stopped at what appeared to be a greenhouse. It was our lunch venue, warm and verdant. Food was good, fried aubergine and potato in a garlic'y sauce, vegetable wraps (like duck with pancakes but veg and strips of egg) and a spicy chicken dish with a sharp sauce and unidentifiable crunchy fungus. This plus our exertions meant that both of us were struggling to stay awake for the drive back to the city. We got back and went straight to the Temple of Heaven. Large gardens much used by the local retired community for dancing and gambling and in the middle a square building. This lead to another covered walkway the balustrade of which was buried in groups of people playing noisy games of poker and Chinese chess.
    This brought us eventually to a central building and a gate which took us through to the centre of the complex including the magnificent Temple of Heaven, a Qing dynasty Daoist temple solely for the use of the Emperor. A circular building made entirely of wood (nanmu ), no nails or pegs and decorated inside and out.
    Surrounding buildings explained the rituals and the construction history/techniques. The crowds were thining and there was again Chinese music drifting from the dancing pensioners outside the complex.
    We were offered various options after but we settled for a return to the hotel to rest our tired trotters.
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  • Day2

    After Tiananmen square we walked through a subway adorned with carvings (and supervisory soldiers) to the south entrance of the Forbidden City. Enormous thick walls and and multiple layers make it seem like an optical illusion... The further you walk the further away it seems to be... Once in we joined the mass of Chinese tourists and pushed and shoved to peer into buildings. Lots of grim reminders of colonial Britain... Huge brass water pots scarred by British soldiers who thought they were gold and wanted a piece! The main thoroughfare was packed all the way through but eventually we destroyed to the Ladies quarters and the tourists largely evaporated. Our guide told us tales of ancient times and Chinese jokes and took endless photos of Dad and I.Read more

  • Day3

    So how could we leave Beijing without having duck? Fortunately there was a specialist duck restaurant in the next door mall. It is a huge mall, and one of 3 locally...(Chinese socialism is an amazing blend. On the drive earlier there were fabulous exhortations to further progress and socialism, community and loyalty but the malls are enormous and shiny - you could be anywhere. The people seem prosperous and we haven't seen a single rough sleeper (though there any number of reasons for that?). Our guide told us that in China men retire at 60 and women at 50 so as to make sure there are jobs for the rising generation. I could be retired!!). Anyway after wandering the shiny floors and watching the iceskaters on the rink at the bottom of the atrium we found our Duck.
    Crispy skin, pancakes and everything you would expect. The chef came to our table and sliced it in front of us...unlike at home the result includes the head...
    Stuffed we toddled back to the hotel and treated ourselves to a drink in the bar after which we returned to our room. It then transpired that dad hadn't paid for the drinks or given our room number but being westerners we stand out sufficiently for them to pursue us to our room! Very red faces on our part
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  • Day9

    Our final full day in Beijing, spent mostly being lazy and getting ourselves sorted for Frankfurt. Changed some money over at a bank. An interesting process involving passport and about 40min - but no commission and a good rate so that's good...

    Couldn't leave Beijing without trying the famous local specialty (Peking Duck). Hotel restaurant was closed so followed directions to a nearby restaurant - no idea of the name but the Mandarin characters looked similar to what the concierge wrote. Glad we did. Was delicious!

    Crispy roast duck with shallot and cucumber strips, delicious barbecue-like sauce and duck soup. The nice waitress showed us how to make little wraps from the thin tortilla-like things and was so good. Would definitely recommend.

    Cheap too - about $23 for a half duck between the two of us. Definitely worth the hype!
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  • Day5

    Well not much sleep was had on this train. But it didn’t help I was sleeping with my backpack, doesn’t cuddle very much. But I made it alive and well into Beijing so you can’t really ask for more than that.

    I decided to take the subway to my hotel since it was the cheapest and most direct way. I wasn’t too sure about the public transit because the bus in Xian didn’t have English on its signs, but because this was now Beijing And there was English I thought I would be ok. And I was.

    The subway was super easy. I already knew where I had to go and which lines to change to so I was amply prepared. The train cost a whopping 4 Yuan, which was less than $0.75 Canadian ... bank breaker, Huh!!

    The train was pretty modern. It had a cool map on it for the route, a tv by every second door, and a nice announcer who spoke in Mandarin and English. It was pretty easy and a smooth ride. I did get a few stares not sure If because I’m white, had curly hair or looked crazy lol.

    Eventually I made it to my stop Chongwenmen, and there were four exits from the subway so I picked one. It turned out to be diagonally away from my hotel, so I had to cross a couple massive roads ... when I say cross, I mean run in between cars as they try to hit you I’m the crosswalk.

    The hotel was fantastic, they let me check in super early. My room is on the 6th floor at the front of the building, which is cool for the view but horrible for the noise.
    Since I was expecting a roommate I tried to keep as neat as possible (spoiler, never got one!!), but I needed to get my crap organized so out it came. Clothes, souvenirs, etc. but I did get it organized so yay me.

    I FaceTimed mom, and sent a few messages out, but my next priority was ... A HOT SHOWER. And this hotel delivered. The shower had so much pressure, and was hot, it was heaven. I didn’t want to leave.

    I tried to decide what I wanted to do that day, and I had a long list to accomplish, and said screw it and went to the zoo. I needed to grocery hunt first, since I knew nothing in the area I walked around and found “Beijing’s Best Bakery”, and it didn’t disappoint. I got some pizza thing, OJ, Panda Cookies, and Coconut Cookies. Everything was delicious. I kept the cookies to snack on throughout the day and the trip.

    I hopped back on the subway and went to the Beijing Zoo.

    So I’ll be honest here, I’m not a fan of zoos or aquariums unless they are rehabilitation centers or where if the creatures were in the wild they wouldn’t survive. I don’t want to pay to see an animal treated poorly, and yanked from their home and families. And I hadn’t heard good things about the Beijing Zoo, but I wanted to see those Giant Pandas, badly

    So when I arrived I was actually impressed with the Zoo. It was relatively clean, and the enclosures were definitely needed. People complain about them, but really they were for the animals safety since the people were so disrespectful to them. I could see the people climbing in to get those pictures, or their kids and getting attacked. We don’t need another Harambe incident.

    The Giant Pandas were cute and had a few different enclosures. It was neat getting to watch them just chill out and eat bamboo, or sleep. I really just wanted to give them a hug.
    I went through the rest of the Zoo and saw: wolves, birds, rhinos, hippos, giraffes, bears, polar bears, golden monkeys, and more ...but they had one place that brought out the child in me, Penguinland.

    There were a few different species that I hadn’t seen before, the only one I had was the African, and that’s from the Vancouver Aquarium. It was a pretty expansive enclosure, but the penguins weren’t too active which was normal. It was still pretty awesome to see them, and see a few new species.

    I checked out a few other exhibits, but to be honest I saw what I wanted to and opted to leave. Before I left I did send myself a postcard from the Zoo, I wasn’t able to send one from Xian so I figured this would do just as well.

    I made my way back to subway, and back to the hotel. I decided to wander around the area and see a little bit. I found a Starbucks and picked up a mug and a local drink. It was a black currant raspberry tea ... it was different, but tasty.

    I went back to my room to chill out for a bit before the meeting that night. And it was nice just to relax a bit.

    At 6 I went down and met my group, I was the baby of the group. All were older, couples, and a few singles, but it looks like a good group. Our CEO is Alex, from Russia. And I think he’s going to do great on this trip. After our meeting, we decided to have a group dinner at our own cost. It was the best food I’ve had the entire trip. We had duck, chicken, dumplings, etc. and it was all fantastic.
    After we all went to the grocery store, and picked up breakfast since we wouldn’t be able to have it before leaving tomorrow. We head off at 6 am for the Great Wall, and I can’t wait.
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  • Day6

    Today I climbed The Great Wall of China.

    I had a rough start to the day, my alarm didn’t go off. I woke up at 7 minutes to 6, and we were to promptly leave at 6. Luckily, I had already laid my clothes out and was prepared. I was out the door in 5 minutes, and at the bus by 6. And I wasn’t even the last one.

    It was supposed be to take over two hours for us to get to the Wall, but our bus driver made it there in one hour, fifteen minutes. We were impressed.
    We had to take a shuttle bus from the parking lot, which required us to walk through a shopping village. At this time of day it was empty and desolate which was quite peaceful.

    We had a few options to get to the Wall, take a cable car, or walk the pathway. I purchased the cable car option, I wanted to save my energy for the way. This would take us up to tower 14 and from my research I knew that walking towards tower 20 would be the most challenging but also the most beautiful. It’s also the most authentic part of the Wall.

    We all separated our ways and ventured up different ways, but eventually we all almost crossed paths.

    The Wall definitely was challenging at some points, I decided that I wanted to go up to tower 20, I just broke it down and took rest breaks, but I was determined to do it. There were points I was almost crawling, but I did it. It was amazing. This was such a fantastic sight to marvel.

    It was a structure that I had to soak up. I took breaks between the towers, and just looked around at where I was and where I was standing. I thought about the people who built this, how many died, and how they built something without the technology we have today. It really made me think and appreciate where I was, it was humbling.

    Now by making it to tower 20 my legs were already jelly, and I realized that I had to make it back. And the stairs to leave tower 20 were enough to make your legs shake. I descended down sideways since the steps were so uneven going down backwards I was likely to miss a step and plummet to my death or severe injury. Slowly but surely I made it down.

    The walk back was just as nice and tiring. It also started to rain so we were getting cold too. It was busier at this time too, so we had to share the Wall with more people. This meant, waiting and pushing and shoving, so the usual.
    We eventually made our way out and to the cafe where part of the group was. Some ventured down earlier whereas some opted to stay on the Wall and jump the barrier to the higher towers. We sat down and rested a bit before heading back down.

    At the bottom I decided to grab a sandwich from subway since I only had a quick pastry breakfast on the way there. I also did pick up a bamboo portrait of the Great Wall, and had my name and date engraved on it. I plan to frame it when I get home.

    We made our way back to the shuttle, and then to the bus to head back to the hotel. By this time the Wall was already getting super busy, so I’m glad we had an early morning to experience a practically empty Wall, and be able to go as far as we did.

    The rest of today was really overshadowed by this morning. I’m still reflecting on how amazing it was, and that I’m here and climbed it. I’m very fortunate and feel so lucky to have done so.

    I’ll be honest I haven’t done much today afterwards, except go shopping for some small souvenirs for myself and friends. Yes Samantha, I did pick something up for you 😜
    Oh and I went to the grocery store. I’m slowly building a stockpile of food, and the hotel gives free bottled water so I’m hoarding what I can. Tomorrow will be grocery hunting day though because the day after is train day!!!!! First leg is 40 hours. I’m charging my power bank up to get it ready for that adventure.

    Off to dinner ... Alex has got something wicked planned, and he mentioned Scorpion Bowls?!?!?

    Evening update: no scorpion bowls were had, it was actually deep fried scorpions, yup. I ate two, and they were quite crunchy and tasty. And apparently starfish taste like ocean that was pissed in, and anything that is good is now “fucking delish” preferably said with an Irish accent.
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  • Day5

    Went to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City and Jianshan Gardens.

    The square is huge. Lots of people. Some security. Apparently a million people can stand in the square. Big picture of Chairman Mao overlooking it all.

    Forbidden city is also huge with 10,000 rooms. Big open courtyards. Massive crowds.

    Went along to the Jianshan gardens. Attended a tea tasting. Nice tea and nice cups - our favourites were the Ginseng oolong and Jasmine green tea. Walked up a hill and looked out over the smog. Lots of walking in the heat.

    Finished the day with a nice late lunch/early dinner with our tour group at a great little local place.
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  • Day6

    Relaxed day. Walked along the shopping street (Wangfujing street) and around malls with insanely expensive luxury items. Did not buy any (no surprises there)! Found an English bookstore.

    Went to the Wangfujing night market, where they sell all kinds of street food (including scorpion on a stick - some of which were still moving while on the stick...). Did not partake. But got a lot of other street food, was pretty good. Then walked back to hotel and got some bakery treats.

    Also we don't really have access to Facebook or email so just comment on one of these pages and hopefully we'll see it. Or will reply once we're in Frankfurt on Thursday (maybe Friday NZ time).
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  • Day2

    After the Forbidden city an early lunch - this required a short drive through the chaotic traffic - all slow moving but very random and the parking makes Birmingham look like valet parking. Spicy peanut chicken with cucumber and beef in yellow bean sauce. The for a rickshaw ride around the Hutongs - Beijing's traditional residences built around courtyards.I felt sorry for our driver but him and his bicycle rickshaw coped ok - our guide followed on a bike! This area is a warren of houses and although many dont have their own bathrooms they are inordinately expensive and apparently rarely sold just passed down through the family. China is a mass of interesting contradictions. We walked into on of the courtyards and talked to the owner who told us about the variety of fruits and veg he grows in virtually no soil. Apricots, grapes tomatoes allsorts of stuff. The hutongs have no street windows and no obvious signs of wealth or status but apparently in pre-communist times it was the number of lintels over your doorway that indicated your rank and the shape of the doorstop - book shaped for a civil servant , drum shaped for a soldier...Fascinating and very nearly lost to the redevelopers.Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

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