On our way to Beijing.
We once again chose budget over the easy way. We took a night train to Zamiin Uud, border town where a lot of taxis await. The crossing is going to look more like a smuggling really. At the first border point, our driver speeds up to go through the gate along with another car. Then we are urged to change taxi, running up the queue to get in a seat-less van. We get our exit stamps for 1,000 tugrits and meet with the first driver again. The Chinese border had about fifty cameras. We are finally in Erenhot (Erlian) from where departs a sleeper bus to the capital. The bus becomes a merchandise-transport in the middle of the night, huge boxes are now blocking the aisles.
Beijing, peaceful overcrowd place.
Day 1. We have four days to visit the city and the Great Wall. We start slowly on the first day, spending the afternoon in the Lama Temple. It’s a big complex with many temples called halls. First encounter with a Chinese monument for us, encent smell are floating in the air. Then we walk through the Hutongs, small and narrow lively streets, to the Shi Cha Hai lake inside the city sandwiched between bars and restaurants. Lights are flickering on the water, the open-bars are numerous and the artists are pretty good.
Day 2. Early morning, we head to the forbidden city. We walk up Quianmen Street, a huge car-free and commercial avenue that leads to Tiananlen Square. A huge square with immense buildings. And then it’s time to enter the city proper, once again it’s a succession of halls contenting thrones. The squares in between the halls are gigantic. We are thrown back in time, away from the chaos of Beijing. The gardens, at the end of the visit, are a peaceful place despite the crowd. We then head across the road to the small park so that we can gaze upon the roofs of the forbidden city from a small temple sited on top of the hill. Unfortunately, the fog blurs it all, giving the place a somewhat nice atmosphere. We walk around the streets before going back to our hosts to make some crepes (here, Nutella is very hard to find and expensive).
Day 3. We head to the Summer Palace with our hosts. Situated in the North-West of the city, it’s a bit away from the centre. It’s a huge park around a lake, the walk around it takes us along the longest corridor in China, maybe even the world’s with its 730-meter length. It’s very nice here, quiet and laid-back. It takes us two hours to slowly finish the walk. And then it’s time to taste the famous Peking Duck, delicious.
Day 4. Today is the day. We had previously planned to visit another stretch of the Great Wall, but it would have taken us five hours in a bus to reach it. We decide to go to Badaling instead, the closest part of the wall. Chinese people are crazy when it comes to trains, as soon as the doors open, they begin to sprint over five hundred meters toward the train to have a seat. Even though we walk slowly and we managed to get seats as well. From the station in Badaling, it takes us ten minutes to reach the ticket office. We spend two hours there, taking it all in, watching the wall slither of the mountains. A great sights packed with tourists even though we are in mid-November. A nice afternoon is a mind-blowing place. We managed to glimpse a quick sight of blue sky, first time in months that we are able to be in tee-shirts. We don’t forget to pick up our free certificate station that yes indeed we were there.
Good to know :
– Entrance to the Summer Palace costs 20 yuans.
– There’s a train to Badaling per hour, costs 6 yuans.
– The subway is amazing there.