Oh China, How do I love thee!
Beijing was the first stop in our China trip. We went for 17 days in total and managed to visit Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, Guilin, Zhangjiajie and Shanghai. So firstly let me introduce you to Aisha. She has travelled the world with me and to this day China is still our favourite trip. ♥ So… The whole point of us visiting China was to walk part of the Great Wall. We started researching and realised there was so much more to see and do, our trip went from one location to 6 very quickly!
Before I get into the Beijing experience. A few things you MUST know about China before going there.
- China is relatively safe, especially as a tourist
- Chinese people as a general rule do not have personal boundaries. They are not westernised so do not get offended if you have someone breathing on your neck in a queue lol
- There is no Facebook, Instagram, twitter etc in China. Their government does not allow it. So if you want to post up your pretty pictures to get your likes… you need to download a VPN app. Very simple to use… you normally have to pay a small fee
- You must get a visa from most countries to visit. My visa from london cost £140 for up to 3 months, and I would be allowed to visit a total of 3 separate times. You need to apply well in advance, and already have your flights and where you are staying booked. You must bring the evidence with you printed on paper
- Chinese people CANNOT SPEAK ENGLISH. As in NOTHING. This is every important to know as 99% of signs are in Mandarin, so you have to plan your trip extensively beforehand. Make sure you have all addresses of hotels in Mandarin and download the translator app. If you get lost… pray, or ask to be taken back to a tourist landmark (But you must also know this in Mandarin)
- Chinese people in rural areas don’t often see people of other ethnicities, if you are brown… be prepared to have photos taken with Su-Ling’s Husband. It’s a laugh. Just get used to it
The “birds nest” stadium from the 2008 Olympics.
The first thing we did in Beijing was to visit the Summer palace. This STUNNING Imperial Garden built in 1750 by Emperor Qianglong, is filled with lakes, temples, woods and of course, the Palace. It is very easy to get to via their Metro system. We took the train to a nearby station, and then hailed a taxi for the last bit. China is very cheap (
except Shanghai) – do not be afraid to use a Taxi.
We had some amazing experiences. We also went to a brilliant Kung Fu show at the Red Theatre which was good. Not the best show ever but worth the experience. Don’t do what we did… we booked tickets the evening we arrived and we were EXHAUSTED. We had front row tickets and kept falling asleep. Aisha woke to one of the Actors staring at her which was super embarrassing LOL.
We planned to go to the forbidden city on our last day when we returned from shanghai to catch our return flight home but we ended up missing that as you can read in my Shanghai post. So we ended up missing that… next time ay.
The great Wall of China
Where do I start. How do I start? Genuinely this is the single greatest experience of my life so far. I have wanted to do this for as long as I can remember and I am so grateful I was able to do it so young… and with my best friend.
So, Aisha and I are adventurers. We prefer to do things the non conventional way… So we decided to do the 20K hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu. This is NOT recommended as people have died climbing this part. Jiankou is basically in ruins, it is incredibly overgrown with trees and shrubs and it is VERY steep at some parts. One point we basically slid down on our bums as it was too steep to even stand!
Basically you cannot scale this part of the wall if it has rained… only if it is bone dry. Lucky for us we had so much sun that day I got sunburnt lol. Seriously, do not risk this unless your fit and healthy and you have good footwear. If you fall in this part, you do not have phone reception… and by the time you get someone (we didn’t see anyone for 3 hrs as nobody climbs this part) your friend is likely to be dead already. That being said, it was such an incredible experience… being the only people there… it was magical.
Getting there. Go to Dongzhimen Station by subway line 2 or line 13. Once there go to the bus stop (nearest on when you exit station) and get the bus 936 (0.70 GBP). You get off at Yujiayuan Station and get a taxi (~£17 GBP) to Xizhazi Village. Then you can begin the hike up the mountain side to get to the small ladder which you climb to get onto the wall, (You need to pay the ladder maintenance lady 20 yen (£2.30 GBP).
Make sure you buy some more water from her as well, as its her source of income (and you will need the water trust me!)
- Water (min 3 bottles)
- Painkillers (Just in case)
- Spare Batteries
- Dehydration sachets
The hike took us 4 hrs including the initial climb of the mountain. We saw so much beautiful scenery I couldn’t possibly describe it. I even saw a huge yellow snake which was amazing (i’m weird yes). It’s incredible to see the transition of the Jiankou section to the Mutianyu section. One minute your walking on broken dusty shrubble, and the next your on that grey brick that you saw in the travel brochure. To get down from the wall… take the Bobsled down… it’s a lot of fun!
I cannot express how amazing Beijing was… and I felt like I missed so much out! I will definitely come again as I still have the Forbidden city to explore!
Big Love, Louise x