Trip Start Sep 05, 2008
19Trip End Jul 10, 2009
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
The first thing we did was purchase our return tickets to make sure we'd be able to get home. I used hand gestures and the very limited Chinese i know to ask a teenager if we were in the right line to buy tickets for Shijiazhuang and she surprised me by answering in English (guess i shouldn't have been too surprised since Helen told me to always ask a young person for help since they usually know the most English).
We found where we could get on the bus we needed to take us close to our hostel and stampeded our way on along with about 100 other people- i don't think there's a legal limit as to how many people can be on a bus cuz if there was, we definitely would've been over it- an accident would've been terrible! The bus ride was about 50mins long- probably one of the longest 50 mins in my life! People were pressed up against you on all sides, continually pushing back and forth fighting for seats and elbowing to get on and off the bus at each stop. Also, people kept hitting my bags (I took a big backpack and purse) so I had to guard them so no one would steal my stuff!
After we got settled in our room we went to Beihai Park. We walked around for a long time in the park; it was absolutely beautiful. We saw many different flower gardens, plants, trees and people. My favorite person to watch was a man who had a really long pain brush that he would dip in water and then effortlessly paint faces on the sidewalk. Once the pictures evaporated the man would walk right back to where he started and pain a new picture.
Later that day we ended up booking a tour for the Great Wall at a different hostel called the Backpackers Hostel, cost us 260RMB (about $40). We decided on this tour because transportation was provided as well as all of the tickets we needed for the various parts of the wall. There are different parts to the wall where different numbers of people are. Some parts of the Wall are very touristy while others original and empty.
The bus left for the Wall at 6am sharp on Tuesday so we all got up at
In almost all of the towers in the Wall, people were trying to sell stuff- water, coke, beer, books, fans, t-shirts, paintings- you name it, it was there. I couldn't believe that people actually would walk up the wall to sell their crap! About half way through we stopped for lunch, which we brought with us and then continued on the rest of our trek. Towards the end of the hike I saw a group of people with tons of gear. It turns out that they were going to camp on the Wall overnight! I wish I would have know that this was possible because the sunset and sunrise would have been so beautiful to see!
At the end of the hike there is a large suspension bridge with a gorgeous river below.
Wednesday morning, October 1st, we went to Tiananmen Square to celebrate National Day. We got to the square around 5:20am and were completely overwhelmed by all the people. There were people selling Chinese flags, people selling breakfast, policemen, kids and adults. It was really quite fun to look at all the people. There were groups of soldiers marching around the square that looked really intimidating. Waiting for the sunrise was an experience in itself because of the number of people that came up to us and wanted to take a picture of/with us. It is getting to be quite funny now because of the way that people try to sneak picts of us. On the train to Beijing one of the guys sitting in the seat in front of us was trying to be all sneaky with his camera phone and take picts of us by pretending to stretch but we all saw and knew exactly what he was doing. I don't know why these people don't simply ask or just take it and then walk away. Anyway, at sunrise a Chinese flag was raised and hundreds of birds were let free. The sky was filled with black speckles from all the birds. On the way out of the square we saw a line of policemen and then soldiers behind them who were trying to control the amount of people coming into the square. People tried to push past the policemen but never dared touch a soldier. After the ceremony, we went back to the hostel to finish sleeping and returned later in daylight to the square. We saw Moa's picture on
Our experience in the silk market- not the one previously mentioned- was uniquely Chinese! This silk market was 6 levels where vendors had a small cubical of space that was so crowded with merchandise it was impossible to see everything. Shoes, luggage, coats, pants, shirts, jewelry, scarves, purses, athletic gear- everything you could ever want to buy was in this building! The people who worked the stands would come over put their arms around you and say things like 'pretty shoes for the pretty lady'. I was not prepared for the way they yelled at you while you walked by but after adjusting I had a wonderful time! When we walked into the market we met an English speaking man who could tell it was our first time and told us to start bartering at 10% of what the sales person asked- thank goodness he told us that!! I ended up buying a black windbreaker type jacket for 85RMB (started at 780RMB). It was so much fun! It was fun to barter with these people because they would insult you and you were expected to say stuff right back at them! Alissa and Kara both bought Ugh boots for 160/120RMB- so Mariah let me know if you need some new Ughs! I'm pretty sure all of the stuff in these booths were fake but whatever- when in China do as the Chinese do- rip off America! After spending 4 hours here we were all famished so we went for MEXICAN! A taco never tasted so good!!
We headed back into the city and had a classy lunch at Hooter's and then walked around a really nice mall that had a ton of american stores- steve madden, adidas, nike, apple, north face, coldstone, starbucks, etc. Although steve madden had a couple pairs of shoes i was really eyein- I had no intention of buying them since i'm stuck in china mode. Our friends Jake and Daniel from the Shiz got into Beijing that day and since they didn't have a place to stay we asked our hostel if they had 2 beds available and they were in luck- there were two beds left in 10 person mixed room so we got em on a bus coming our way.
We hung out at the hostel for a while and then went to dinner at The Den- great happy hour deals. 1/2 off pizza and drinks from 5-10! We had a blast- playing drinking games for a few hours before hitting the bars- i think we might have scared jane a bit with how intense everyone was getting during "asshole." We found "shooters," a bar well known for their crazy shots and good music. Everyone was throwin em back and having a great time. We met a lot of other foreigners and danced the night away- helped that DJ was awesome and played a lot of our requests.
I should mention that while in Beijing we didn't eat one bite of Chinese food! I have never felt better. We ate pizza, burgers, burritos, tacos, sandwiches- we even found a subway and hooters and ate there! Western food is all so very delicious and a great change from the Chinese food we eat everyday!
One day at dinner we saw a sign for a Wal-Mart across the street.
We visited the Forbidden City and learned all about the Ming Dynasty-
We went out a few nights to see the nightlife and it is pretty much the same in the West- drinks are expensive and people get crazy! One of my favorite things about China is that if you are at a restaurant or at a bar you are allowed to bring drinks in with you! It is actually quite comical because the restaurant can see you buying the drinks 10 seconds before walking in and being seated. One of the smartest women I have observed in China sold beer outside a bar for 3RMB while the bar sold it for 30RMB- needless to say she made a killing because everyone went outside to drink and chill and then went back in to dance! Most of the places we were at played English music even though everyone but maybe 4 of the people in these places were Chinese. I find it entertaining that the Chinese people play songs that were popular in the state 3 months ago but don't speak English. Karaoke is also very popular in China. They have special bars to go to where you can rent out a room and sing karaoke for hours on end. We have done this in Shijizahuang and I don't understand why the Chinese think it is so much fun!
The holiday really fun and I totally love Beijing! I think Bejing would be really fun to live in because there are so many foreigners and it is not uncommon to find people speaking English! This is the first time in China where I've felt as if I've almost blended in! It was great!