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Beijing, Day 3

Beijing, China

The day started out with an intense ambition. We had three main attractions to visit: The Great Wall, The Summer Palace and Tian An Men Square, in that order.

The Great Wall featured, of course, lots of steps. Most at a severe incline. It's probably one of the most international tourist sites in the world. I heard at least 10 different languages spoken on the hike up. Where most people climb the great wall and some even skate it, for Robert it was just another obstacle to jump over in order to find plants. And find them he did. He came back with plastic bags of not t-shirts but of plants to show us on the bus. Mao said your not a hero until you climb the great wall... I wonder what he thought about teachers who jump it. There was a nice hook on the ride to the wall, yet again by our tour guide. We took a short detour to see a jade factory, which of course had a massive jade store attached. We all protested before going in, but yet again, most people ended up buying something (perhaps there's subliminal messaging in these places). The hook worked.

The next stop was the Summer Palace which is a good drive back from the wall. The palace is one of the largest parks in all of China and was the vacation spot for the later dynasties. The gardens and lake were a welcome haven for us, although we had to rush through it in order to fit all of the days activities. Where there is Yin there is Yang... to contrast the peace of the garden, just outside was an alley back to the bus, which we've nicknamed "swindler alley." Not only was the long alley loaded with poor merchants hounding us to buy their t-shirt knock-offs and cheap crafts, they were ready to scam the tourists. After some tour members put up a good job haggeling down the price of some goods, they found their change back to be counterfeit bills... So it is possible to get Shanghaied in Beijing.

After dinner we got to walk a few minutes around Tian An Men Square, which was lit up at night and preparing for the upcoming Mid-Autum Festival (moon cake festival).

After the square we drove to the massive Beijing train station to get aboard our sleeper train to Luoyang. Upon entering there was a huge crowd outside waiting to get in and watching someone get detained by the police. After a bout of abuse, about 5 red guards handcuffed the guy and took him away. Then we had to deal with the bottlenecking and the thousands of people laying around or rushing to get on their train. While we were all excited to hop into our soft sleeper cabin on the train, we quickly realized that after a day of hiking around without a shower, the tight quarters weren't as pleasant as we thought, especially after we took our shoes off...

permalink written by  Benjamin Satterfield on September 16, 2005 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: China Tour Fall 2005
tagged China, Beijing, TheGreatWall, SummerPalace, TianAnMenSquare, Jade, Theft, MoonCakeFestival, Autumn, Festival, RedGuard, Luoyang and SleeperTrain

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Beijing, Day 2

Beijing, China

After a change in plans, we visited IMPLAD an institute on the outskirts of Beijing where there are research facilities on herbal medicine and extensive gardens and green houses. We spent most of our time outside in the damp, over-cast garden with Robert reviewing about 25 common medicinal plants growing there.

After lunch we somehow got caught up in some kind of tourist trap that makes and sells pearls. After several awkward demonstrations of pearl creams and oyster shucking, we had enough, although there were a few enstarred shopers... We then straveled to Bai Wang Mountain on the edge Beijing.

While in pursuit of the ellusive Chai Hu herb, we came across countless plants and massive flourescent spiders. The Chai Hu was found, but half of our tour got lost along the way. After a few hours of hiking the rain finally broke and it drizzled the whole way back down the mountain. The group was divided, but we all made it back to the bus alright. Robert came back covered in plant matter and grit but with bags of samples, including the Chai Hu...we've never seen him happier.

After spending a ridiculus amount of time in the Beijing rush-hour traffic, we decided to skip out on dinner in an attempt to make it to the Peking Opera performance. We just made it... oh, by the way, the performer in the picture below is a man.

permalink written by  Benjamin Satterfield on September 15, 2005 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: China Tour Fall 2005
tagged China, Beijing, IMPLAD, TouristTrap, Pearls, BaiWangMountain, Traffic and PekingOpera

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Beijing, Day 1

Beijing, China

After a long overnite flight we arrived in Beijing just before morning rush hour. The weather has been reported as "the best in over a month," with nice sun and cool breezes. The pollution and smog are at a minimum and the group is happy to be here for the next few days. We'll be even happier to sneak in a nap here and there.

After a big breakfast we walked through most of the Forbidden City, which is about 2 blocks from our hotel. Despite the massive reconstruction efforts there, the tour went well and it wasn't over crowded. After a few hours there we returned to the hotel. Unfortunately the acupuncture and herb museum was closed for some last minute rennovations. On the way back Robert found a bunch of common medicinal herbs simply growing around the streets and informed us what they are and used for.

After a short break, we went to see a Chinese Acrobat troop perform and had a late dinner before calling it a day. We're all tired but content and happy to be touring together.

Later, some brave travelers ventured down the street from the hotel to the night market, where u can pick up tasty treats like starfish, centipedes, scorpions on a stick...

permalink written by  Benjamin Satterfield on September 14, 2005 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: China Tour Fall 2005
tagged China, Beijing, ForbiddenCity, MedicineMuseum and Acrobats

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Melbourne, Australia

We've confirmed the flight to China leaving on 16th Sept to 30th sept, arriving Beijing and exiting Shanghai. I've been quite busy looking up tour books, hotel bookings and enquiring about train rides between cities. There's a plethora of information out there on the net but who knows which sites are reputable and which ones are the scams! Right now I am trying to stick to the two sites, and also thinking about whether to fly the leg between Luoyang and Shanghai.

I've also bought the lonely planet guide book. It seems to be very useful, with many local maps where we can track down the location of the hotels we've booked and also the relative distances to the sights we want to see. I checked out the eyewitness travel guide, which contains many colourful pictures and intersting general facts, but not as detailed as the lonely planet in describing the sights.

There seems to be so many sights and so little time. We've got two weeks during the school holidays... can't wait! It'd be so exciting.

permalink written by  juliana on June 23, 2006 from Melbourne, Australia
from the travel blog: ~~china historical holiday~~
tagged Shanghai, Beijing, Luoyang, ChinaTripPlanning, Flights and Xian

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The Pretty Damn Good Wall of China

Beijing, China

“All in all you're just another brick in the wall”. I have no idea why I quoted that song except they have a name in common. Get to Beijing at 7:15, go to the hotel, leave our stuff, we are in a cab on the way to the wall at 8:15am.

It is a stunning sight. We arrived at the Mutianyu wall at almost 10 and started to walk. When we got there we realized that I had to ride a cable car or walk up 1600 steps. Adam, being the good man he is, and knowing my ridiculously unfounded fear of heights said that I could choose, but after walking about 1% of the number of steps, it was obvious that I couldn't climb, so I bit the bullet and rode the cable car.

After riding up (half the way with my eyes closed) we got there and saw one of the most stunningly beautiful sights I have ever seen. This is a formidable wall. The only disappointments were,
1.The bit we were on is reconstructed a few years ago over the ruins of the old one.
2.I got bitten by a bee.
3.Nothing, it was magnificent.

We then went on to hang out at the hotel for a bit, ate dinner at a Peking Duck restaurant that Mao once ate at, and then walked up to Tian An Men square where Adam got treated like a celebrity. Every girl wanted her picture taken with him... We got a train back and now we are in the hotel. We are off to see the Forbidden City, Olympic venues tomorrow, and then at night we fly to Mongolia.

permalink written by  Big_T on August 25, 2008 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: Big_T's Travel Blog
tagged Beijing, Wall and Tiananmen

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Beijing, China

The next morning we wake up and have a lovely breakfast in our classy Hotel. A huge buffet which you can be sure I demolished.

After that we decided that it was time to do The Last Emperor thing and visit the Forbidden City. Another absolutely massive place that has been kept well intact for the last 600 years or so (although the paint job looks about 3 years old at the most). A stunning place and it would have been fricking sweet to have been the emperor and the only person allowed to live there. Although after about 10 minutes every building started to look and sound identical, The Hall of Heavenly Peace, The Hall of Earthly Harmony, The Hall of Glorious Constipation... etc....

Once done with that we walked the 45 minutes to the nearest subway station and tried to go to the Olympic Venues, but as we got near there we were told that unless we had a ticket we would only be able to see it from a long distance. We thought that the 40 minute walk to a bridge where we couldn't see the Stadium was a waste of time so we had a beer.

Back to the hotel taxi to the airport and ready for our 9:10pm flight to Ulan Bataar. 9:10 comes and goes as does 10:10, 11:10...

to be continued...

permalink written by  Big_T on August 26, 2008 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: Big_T's Travel Blog
tagged Beijing, ForbiddenCity and Walking

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Stay at Olympics Season in Beijing

Beijing, China

Stay at the spot site and see things with one’s own eyes. That’s why tourists would like to visit Beijing during August for Olympic seasons. However, only part of the public can get the opportunity to view the stadiums and get the spot feelings.

Visas, airline tickets, and hotel bookings to Beijing are hard to get, much less to say the game entrance tickets. Suppose you are lucky enough to have obtained all these and arrived in Beijing already. You can take a taxi from airport to see the stadium directly. The taxi drivers, wearing the newly distributed yellow shirt and black tie, are trained to speak a little English like ‘Welcome’ and ‘Thanks’. As long as you show a picture of the Bird Nestle, s/he will know where you want to go.

Traffic rule in China is to drive on the right hand side. The light posts along major roads are decorated with skyscraper banners in different colors. The inner lane, painted with Olympic 5-circle logo, is devoted for the exclusive use of Olympic vehicles. Driving mistakenly on the lane by non-Olympic vehicles will be fine as much as RMB1800 (approx. $300). On the road, you will see other cars with labels in Odd (or Even) numbers depending on the calendar day number. Public transportation including taxi, buses and police are not restricted. The Odd-Even Rule is applicable from July 20 to Sept 20.

In case your taxi gets lost, it’s still easy to find the stadium by following the helicopters overhead. It’s noisy and circling around the stadiums. Seeing helicopters or hearing its noise tells you that you are about to arrive.

The central Olympic area locates in the north of Beijing, consisting of Nestle, Water Cubic, National Stadium, Main Press Center, Athletes Village and Olympic Park. All buildings are fenced for security reason. The most concerned ‘Bird’s Nestle’ (or ‘Niao Chao’ in Chinese pronunciation) and blue Water Cubic are isolated from the curious public with 2-meter high fence placed about 200 meters away from the buildings. So visitors can only look at them and take pictures of or with them from afar. Behind the fence are soldiers in green standing still in the little shade of umbrellas placed on the ground about 50 meters apart from each other. Policemen in blue and anti-riot policemen in black, together with their specially-trained dogs, are roaming outside the fence. All working staffs are wearing a rectangle ID label in orange and red, possibly sponsored by Kodak. Content in ID labels, as well as all direction boards, are printed in three languages: Chinese, English and French.

On the streets outside the fence, you will see the police cars back and forth with blinking blue and red lights on its roofs. Smiling young volunteers are standing in scattered sites, wearing sky blue T-shirt and silver-colored pants. Most of them are from universities. Their non-volunteer university classmates are enjoying an extraordinarily long summer vacation from July 1 till Sept 15.

The torch, designed by Lenovo and made by a space-tech firm, is under relay in different cities. The medals for winners, with jade embedded at the rear panel, are ready for awarding. Opening ceremony performance and fireworks show is under busy rehearsal. Delegations from different countries are arriving and checking into the Athletes Village to get adapted to the new environment.

Everything seems ready. If you are not able to visit Beijing, make sure to watch the live broadcast of the opening ceremony and game performance on TV, mobile or Internet.

permalink written by  blogpictures on December 7, 2008 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: Trip to Beijing
tagged Beijing and Olympics

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Beijing and the art of deception

Beijing, China

We missed our flight. We died a little bit inside. We went home. We came back. We got an upgrade! Upgrades seem to be reserved for the rich or the unlucky - suddenly everything was great and before I'd even had time to finish watching my third film on the (very spacious) plane we were bumbling our way onto a bus in Beijing!

Beijing is fucking busy and a bit intimidating at first. The stream of cars, bikes and buses seemed completely unreasonable and we decided to get a tuctuc to the hostel to avoid adding to the manic roadrage around us. Then we decided to get out of the tuctuc and into a taxi because it became apparent that the driver was completely insane. And he hadn't even started driving! Incidentally, this was not the last crazy tuctuc driver we encountered in our first day in Beijing, we had as funny a near death experience as you could hope for on the way to the Forbidden City, but you will have to watch the video I shot to fully appreciate how driving towards an oncoming bus on the wrong side of the road can be funny.

The funniest part of the day, and the part which reflects what I suspect is an annoyingly large part of the Beijing experience was meeting our first friend! A Chinese art student spotted us looking lost and suggested that we go with him to an art gallery where we could see some of his work (which was very impressive!). It was suspiciously uncomfortable when we decided we weren't going to buy anything, but wasn't until we got back to our hostel that we spotted a large notice stuck to every bathroom door warning travellers not to be fooled by people claiming to be art students and offering to take you to their gallery. What a twat. I thought Alan wasn't a very Chinese name...

permalink written by  steve_stamp on April 2, 2009 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: The art of being lost
tagged Beijing, Tuctuc and NearDeath

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Een typisch staaltje China..

Beijing, China

Had ik zo mooi een blog voorbereid in Nederland en natuurlijk niet aan gedacht dat China veel websites nog steeds (of weer) blokkeert! Hoewel China in rap tempo verandert en moderniseert, zijn ze nog steeds bang voor censuur. Maar probeer eens 1,3 miljard mensen in het gareel te houden! Er is veel kritiek op China en ondanks dat ik dat zeer terecht vind, weet ik echt niet hoe ik een land met zoveel inwoners zou moeten besturen. Vanuit dat oogpunt ga je wel veel meer begrijpen. Maar veel internationale blogs worden dus geblokt. En helaas, zo ook de mijne :-( Maar niet getreurd, een nieuwe is gelukkig zo aangemaakt.

Onze reis naar Beijing is goed verlopen, al vertrokken we met een flinke dosis stress en geloof het of niet, ik was het niet! Kunno, als echte groninger, heeft zich laten horen onderweg naar Bremen ;-) Mensen die 'm kennen weten hoe dat gaat. (Schat van een man trouwens hoor! Laat dat even helder zijn).

Deze eerste week in China zijn een stel vrienden van Joke en Kunno ook mee. Frits is onze gezellige babbelaar (en het liefst met vrouwen, toch Frits?). Met Ankie kan ik heerlijk theeleuten. (ze zijn beide in de 70 trouwens!) Zolang het nog kan proberen ze dit soort reizen te maken en doen dat met veel plezier, en gelijk hebben ze!

Aangekomen Parijs werden we een tijdje weggemanouvreerd en het verzoek of we even onze vingers in onze oren wilde stoppen, want er kwam een explosie aan.. Ehhhh? We hadden geen idee wat er aan de hand was, maar veel stelde het gelukkig niet voor. Slechts 1 gewapende militair en 2 agenten waren aanwezig, dan is het echt geen serieuze melding. Op naar het volgende vliegtuig dus. Druk dat het daar was! Bommetje vol was het vliegtuig. Temperatuur in het vliegtuig schat ik op 30 graden... Reken maar niet dat je dan nog kunt slapen. Veel hopeloze franse films gekeken en in het chinees geleerd om te tellen, best nuttig! Van een jetlag gelukkig geen last, ik sliep de volgende nacht als een blok en zat de dag erna alweer in het ritme.

De dag erna zijn we begonnen bij het vogelnest, de vorige vakantie werden we hier weggestuurd (na 3 uur zoeken naar de ingang!), maar dit keer mochten we er wel in. Mooi ontwerp zeg! En natuurlijk worden er stiekem veel foto's van ons gemaakt. Zelfs in Beijing zijn europeanen nog een bezienswaardigheid.

Ik moet erbij zeggen dat er maar weinig "buitenlanders" zijn hier, ook al is China ineens een trend (althans, hoor ik mensen zeggen), hier vind je er niet zoveel, zelfs in dit hoogseizoen niet. Komt waarschijnlijk ook omdat we met de metro reizen (22 eurocent pp per willekeurige rit door heel beijing!), in China is dat vooral voor mensen die geen taxi kunnen betalen, voor de lagere klassen dus.

permalink written by  Jolie on August 2, 2009 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: Lachende Boeddha
tagged Beijing, Reis, Vliegen, Explosie and OlympischPark

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Catching up... From the top!

Beijing, China

It's Hot in Beijing Aug 25, 2009 2:27 pm

I'm here. It's 2:20am Beijing time and I'm wide awake. I cannot get on Facebook - it must be blocked by someone/thing. I have a lot to do this week and am hoping I will adjust quickly to my new time zone.

The air is thick & white - smog! That's one thing I could do without when I visit!

I am the house guest of a wonderful lady who is very kind. It will be hard for me to not just spend time with my old friend when I should be working. :-S

Blog luxury Aug 26, 2009 6:09 am

I am sitting in a restaurant on the west side of Beijing having just finished a large bowl of Korean style noodles blogging on my new iPhone. The wifi is free, the chair is cushy... Nice!

Taking Matters Into My Own Hands Aug 26, 2009 5:58 pm

My life philosophy is to change rather than complain. Is the picnic area littered? Don't complain, clean it up. Is the budget accomodations too hot? Don't complain, buy a fan.

As I type I have a fan on me. I hate being hot & sticky. Oops - I just complained!

A Great Trip! Aug 26, 2009 6:00 pm

After less than 36 hours I already had a great trip! First, my shins got dinged on the taught chain suspended low and not visible in the dark. Then my hand got bruised and clothing smeared with Beijing 'uck' as I rolled on the ground on the other side. Then my ego got bruised as I saw that four locals saw me, the 'Big Nose' sprawl so. It was a great trip!

Shin-cerely Dangerous Aug 27, 2009 3:07 pm

My current accomodations have me in a small room with a large bed. Instead of having recessed legs so I don't stub my toes [ remember when I built my third platform bed - I had finally learned to place the legs in from the edge to avoid toe boo boos? ] Well, this bed's manufacture hasn't learned that lesson. But it is not my toes that are getting bumped repeatedly by my shins at about the same level as the chain that tripped me the other night. No shorts for me! Good thing winter is coming...

Sounds weird to say that about winter but here in Beijing there will be a few weeks of beautiful weather in October and then it quickly gets cold. Because of the shape of the land features across China, weather is very predictable and varies little from year to year. North American land features cause just the opposite with wide variations causing Americans to always be talking about the unpredictable weather. Because most other countries have much more consistant weather patterns weather is not a 'hot topic,' and foreign learners of English puzzle over our fascination with weather! Can any non-North Americans confirm my observations???

"At Ease..." Aug 28, 2009 4:46 pm

I am heading to part of China that has been in the news of late because of riots. When a concierge at a fancy hotel here heard of my plans he asked me why I would go there - 'many generals,' he said. He meant to say 'soldiers.' Twould be worth going to see thousands of men highly decorated uniforms manning bus check points.

Grammar Police Strikes Again! Aug 28, 2009 4:49 pm

Chinglish: "We are now arriving at Guo Mao Station" comes over the loudspeaker after the subway train stopped. Grrrr... And the Chinese says, "We have arrived at Guo Mao Station."

We Haven't Got a Failure to Communicate Aug 28, 2009 4:57 pm

I wanted to have an eyemask made - ya, know the kind you wear at night to keep light from bothering your sleep? Well, I stepped into the tailor shop and realized that I had the fabric but an eyemast to copy. Could I explain the details in my limited Chinese?? I got out pen & paper and began drawing throwing in guessed measurements. I'm sure she has never made one before and probably never seen one. I explain the function getting the Chinese for 'eye' mixed up with the Chinese for 'sun.' Hey, it's been 18 months since I was last here!

Well, it worked. The eye mask is a tad wider than necessary but well worth it. And I now know how to say 'ruffle' in Chinese!

And she did it on the spot. Usually I have to drop off tailoring a pick it up 2-7 days later.

Good deal!

For the Few Who Care: The Modern Art Scene in Beijing Aug 29, 2009 5:06 pm

There are oft repeated themes of obscure juxtaposition [ giraffe, machine gun, baby on a skate board ], and large head-small body portraits. Not much in the way of abstract.

Um... I suppose now you are you wish you hadn't cared! Boring post!!

permalink written by  prrrrl on August 29, 2009 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: China 2009
tagged China and Beijing

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