China – 10 Cities in 19 Days: Beijing

I recently returned from a trip to China with my mom and best friend (also called Rose if you didn’t know already). We planned this whirlwind trip so we could see as many sites as possible to maximize our vacation time. It was tiring towards the end but we hit all the major sites we were aiming to see, met some nice people and shopped like there was no tomorrow when we got the chance.

Unfortunately, I wound up with a sore throat for the first couple of days – we definitely take clean air for granted over here. The pollution was obvious upon leaving the airport. Buildings the next block over were barely visible on some days. Evidence that “Made in China” comes with a price.

On the plus side, through our entire trip, everyone thought Rose and I were in our early 20’s and just out of school. So we tried to work that to our advantage when being sold things.

Anyways, on to the sites:

First stop: Beijing (Sept. 19-23)

The night we arrived, we went out to try Peking Duck, so we went to the famous Quanjudu Roast Duck Restaurant. Our hotel was in the Wangfujing area so we walked over to that location (apparently there are several). It was a dish I was looking forward to trying but was slightly disappointed by the flavour (or lack there of).

Great Wall of China

This was one of the highlights of the trip and was everything I thought it would be, if not more. The view was amazing and the Wall just went on and on and on. We went to the Mutianyu section where you take a cable car on to the Wall to begin your trek. This section is supposed to have less crowds and tour groups than the Badaling section as it’s further from Beijing city centre.

Another time I wish my legs were longer….some of the steps went up to my knees! Walking down wasn’t the problem – it was climbing back up, but of course we made it!!

Summer Palace

We sure walked our legs off here, by the end of the day, we thought “if this was the emperor’s summer home, how big is the ‘regular’ home going to be?!”.

It’s incredible that these halls, gardens, etc. were built such a long time ago. There was so much to look at. Jade carvings, jewels, paintings, it was a bit overwhelming at times. It’s hard to believe this was all done by hand.

There was so much to see, we didn’t even get through all the sections before we had to go, it’s definitely a place you can spend all day.

Wear comfortable shoes!

Forbidden City (Palace Museum)

Entering the Forbidden City was like walking into the set of an ancient Chinese movie (except there for the crowds of tourists everywhere). There were people everywhere!!! Because of that, it was a bit difficult to get through and see what was in every hall.

We went into the Clock & Watch Museum section where they had clocks that were given to the emperor as gifts. Apparently they were things for amusement/entertainment back in the day….hmmm….can you imagine staring at a clock (even this giant fancy “water clock”) for fun???

….and that was our first stop!