Beijing – Day 1 and 2

by Terence

Very tired, so going to keep it brief. Day 1 was spent walking the streets near my hotel and around Tiananmen Square / Forbidden City area. Tiananmen Square was closed due to a big conference, and it was being used as a carpark. I didn’t manage to hit any of the big parks in the area like Beihai and Jingshan because I spent most of the day trying to find a way around the massive police/army blockade around the Tiananmen Square area due to the conference. It was also snowing for most of the day, and very cold. I was tired out and went back to the hotel for a nap around 3pm, and got up only to go out for dinner, which was another round of bumbling around in the cold and getting lost.

My grand plan of using my iphone app with the offline map and GPS didn’t work out so well. Somehow the GPS reception in Beijing seems a little spotty, and the app tended to have trouble locking onto a GPS signal.

Day 2 was a lot more structured. I hired a driver to take me to the Summer Palace and then the Great Wall at Mutianyu in the afternoon. One lesson I’m learning fast in Beijing is not to underestimate the size and scale of things. I thought one morning at the Summer Palace was enough to cover it all, but I was very wrong. I hardly covered one fifth of it in the 2.5 hours that I was there. I think to explore it satisfactorily, you need at least one full day there. The Great Wall is doable in half a day. Reason being that it’s so huge and long that you eventually hit a point where you ask yourself how many more steps you want to climb to see essentially the same view again… I took a cable car up and climbed for about an hour and a half before turning back. I was a sweaty, awestruck mess at the end of my little jaunt.

Lunch was fresh fish done in BBQ style in Huairou, just before the Mutianyu entrance, recommended by my cousin. It was really good. We got to pick our fish, and how we wanted the fish done. My pics of the fish got screwed up though, so I only have a pic of the restaurant and 2 cute dogs that were basking in the sun outside the restaurant.

I ended the day with the obligatory Peking Duck meal. My driver recommended a particular branch of the Quanjude Peking Duck Restaurant. It was nice, but to be honest, the best Peking Duck in the high end restaurants back home are better, though at the price I paid in Beijing, it’s good quality Peking Duck at great value for money.

I’m too tired to post all my photos on the blog because it takes extra effort here, no thanks to the Great Firewall of China. For some reason, I can’t see more than 70% of my photos. If anyone is interested, they can be found in this Flickr set.