This travel blog talks about the Part 4 of 4 of our China trip, when i look back on this day, my excitement from start to finish did not waiver. This was the last leg of our Quad-City China trip. In reference to my previous post, Beijing is known to be the crown of China and i am yearning to share why it is so.
After exploring the ancient city, Xi’an, we are now heading to Beijing. You can either take a 2 hour plane ride or take a train which has 2 options: high speed train which is around 4-5 hours travel time or sleeper train. Sleeper train has two options as well, with stops or non-stop. We took the non-stop sleeper train which departed at 6:00 PM and will arrive 6:30 AM the next day.
We were all in high spirits when we went onboard the train. Cabin rooms were already preassigned. In a room are two double-deck single beds and a small table in the middle. It was not very spacious though there are designated place for the luggage but since each one of us had a big and one small trolley bag, then we just put some of our things under the bed. We were able to settle our things and the train left Xi’an train terminal on time.
What is nice about our experience is that there are four of us who traveled together, we fit perfectly in one room. It is always nice to share this kind of experience with friends.
They provided us with pillow, mattress and comforter. There are also several water stations (Hot and Cold) around the train. Before we went to the train station, we bought several noodles, drinks and snacks in preparation of this trip. There was also a store inside the waiting lounge for passengers riding this non-stop sleeper train. The prices were just the same as the prices at the stores outside the train station.
It was so much fun! We bought our own alcoholic drinks too, it was like a night out in a running train. It was one item off my bucket list and it was so special because i get to spend it with people who matters. This kind of adventure requires that you and your companions are in sync in what you like and that you can talk about anything and have some fun at the same time.
We arrived in Beijing at exactly 6:30 AM the next day. We stayed at Spring Time Hostel, it is a few steps away form Dongsi Station at the heart of Beijing. The tip that i have been sharing since in all my travel blogs is to choose a hotel near a train station because trust me, it is easier to locate and easier to commute.
Our room was not yet ready when we arrived at the hotel, but they have wash room and we quickly freshened up and left our things to have our breakfast.
We walked around the vicinity near our hotel where a lot of supermarkets and restaurants can be found and we came across a Chinese fast food, Western Mahua. It was very spacious and clean, most of all, food was really good and has so many options to choose from.
This instantly became our go-to fast food during our entire Beijing trip.
After a hearty breakfast, we then started our Beijing sight seeing tour. This was my second time to visit this beautiful city, my first visit here was way back May of 2011 with my family. We availed of a 3 day group tour that time but just the same i am excited of what is in store for our DIY trip.
Beijing is Peoples Republic of China’s capital formerly romanized as Peking, this is the second biggest city of China after Shanghai. It is the political center of this country with official buildings and embassy areas dominating the area. Beijing is a complete mix of old and new, you can find vast modernization amidst the most ancient norms and cultural settings. It is such an interesting city to explore.
Beijingers are much friendly and approachable than any other Chinese people from different city like Shanghai. They have the so called “Great Beijing-ism” attitude which each local here displays. They are more keen of talking about current events and politics.
Our first stop was the Forbidden City, also known as the Palace Museum, and Gu Gong in Chinese, lies at the city center of Beijing, and once served as the imperial palace for 24 emperors.
The Forbidden City is divided into two parts. The southern section, or the Outer Court was where the emperor exercised his supreme power over the nation. The northern section, or the Inner Court was where he lived with his royal family.
Listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1987, the Palace Museum is now one of the most popular tourist attractions world-wide and even though that this was my second time to visit this place, i am still in awe of it’s history and grandeur.
Let me take you to a photo tour of this majestic place.
Across the entrance of Forbidden City is the equally famous, Tiananmen Square. When we went there last March, Tiananmen Square was closed to the public since Pres. Kim Jong-Un was there to visit China. Security is at its highest level.
Tiananmen Square is located at the center of Beijing and means “Gate of Heavenly Peace”.
After hours of walking, we then head to grab a late lunch at the multi-awarded restaurant Lao Qing Feng famous for their dumplings. A must eat when in Beijing!
We went back to the hotel to check in and rest.
WANGFUJING STREET NIGHT MARKET
After a restful afternoon, we are ready to walk again to Wangfujing Street which is just a few meters from our hotel. Wangfujing Street Night Market or also called as Donghuamen Night Market is located near the north entrance of the commercial street. It enjoys high popularity among local people, providing visitors gourmet snacks in different style. The night market opens around 6:00 PM and the entire street begins to be brimmed with mouthwatering flavors.
1. There are davenports every several yards prepared for visitors to have a rest. And one can use the shopping barrows along the street for free.
2. Visitors can take a sightseeing bus at south end of the street which runs through this street and Nanheyan Street. Tourist guide on the bus can introduce the history and main scenic spots along the street in detail. The bus runs 50 minutes altogether with 8 stops. The bus fare is CNY20 per person.
3. Currently, Beijing has adopted tax refund policy (Value Added Tax or VAT) among overseas tourists, and there are several designated tax free stores in the commercial street, including Gongmei Mansion, Wangfujing Department Store, Dong’an Department Store, and Wuyutai Tea Shop.
Here are some of the street food we devoured during our visit.
Day 2 was The Great Wall of China day!
The Great Wall, one of the greatest wonders of the world, was listed as a World Heritage by UNESCO in 1987. Just like a gigantic dragon, it winds up and down across deserts, grasslands, mountains and plateaus.
The Great Wall is consist of walls, beacon towers, and passes, etc, the long-extending Great Wall worked as a complete and solid military defense line in ancient China, protecting the Central Plain from invasions of northern nomadic tribes.
Took off early from the hotel to go to Mutianyu.
From the train station, we took a public bus then a taxi to get to Mutianyu. It was nearly 2 hours travel.
We bought 3 tickets: for the chairlift ride, Great Wall Entrance and the toboggan ride. One thing i noticed is that this place is not crowded. Everything is in place as we went up to the Chairlift ride. No long queues and everything is orderly.
The chair lift ride was a little scary and it has no seat belts so you need to stay put. You can still take a good video and photos too but you need to be very careful with your gadgets.
The cool 11 degrees weather plus an awesome aerial view of the Great Wall of China is a sight to behold that morning. We purposely took off very early as we want to avoid big crowd from tours which usually arrive around 9 AM to 10 AM. We were already at the Great Wall at around 8:00 AM and yes it was not crowded with tourists.
I get to have unedited instagram-worthy photos!
But don’t be fooled by those photos, it was very tiring and i am so glad that the weather is really nice, we were channeling our tired feet to the coldness of the place. Again, it is always great to travel with friends who knows how to have fun despite tired feet.
Last May 2011, when my family and i took a trip to Beijing, we joined a group tour. They took us to Badaling side. We rode a cable car going to the entrance of the Great Wall. It was safer, i should say compared to the chairlift ride at Mutianyu.
Here are two of the decent photos that my sister was able to capture. One with my mother and the other one with my niece. Look at the crowd! We can’t even have one family photo here with the myriads of tourists.
I am super glad that we took the Mutianyu side. This i can truly say, i re-checked one of the items off my bucket list!
From Mutianyu, we went down the Great Wall of China by a toboggan ride. It is a ride that uses a metal chute and teflon glides with a simple levered break to control your speed.
I paid to have a decent photo of this experience as we are not allowed to take out gadgets and it was really scary that i could not think of anything than how to control the lever that i will not bump the person in front of me or me being bumped by the person behind me.
There are several shops at the exit/entrance (same place) and we had coffee and sandwich after our Great Wall of China experience.
We went back to our hotel to freshen up and in the afternoon we went to the Beijing Stadium.
It is an extra ordinary landmark that where the 2008 Olympic Games were held. Also referred as the Bird’s Nest, this is the world’s largest enclosed space and the world’s largest steel structure with 26km of unwrapped steel used.
We had a night cap at the Wangfujing Pedestrian Street. A busy street with so many shops.
Before we walked back to our hotel, we tried Malan Noodles which is very famous in Beijing. It actually expanded to USA too. They are famous for their freshly made noodles.