Brilliant Beijing

Trip Start Apr 16, 2010
1
9
25
Trip End Jul 24, 2010


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Flag of China  ,
Monday, May 17, 2010

First of all we'd like to say how thoroughly overwhelmed we were at the quality that Singapore airlines provided. Dan is still overwhelmed by the experience and is still carrying the hot towel that they provided during the flight. Despite the fact that it's not hot anymore, we've told him a bunch of times, he still insists upon carrying it everywhere we go as face freshener!

Ni hao! In case you haven't guessed that is hello in Mandarin!

Wow, the group still can't believe that we are actually here in Beijing, yet we have had so much fun in the small amount of time that has passed. As we haven't travelled to any other destination we are not going to be able to give you the standard write up of each place. Instead we'll do it by dates:

14/05/2010

Arrived and were exhausted after our tedious stop off at Singapore, although we never ventured out of the airport it seemed like a really sterile and massive place. Eventually, after passing through customs (a miracle considering Tim's awful behaviour, which improved dramatically after he exchanged a few words with Stefan) we headed to the airport's shuttle train service. Somehow more easily than expected we arrived at Quianmen station, but this is where the difficulty started. Quickly we realised that the language barrier between us and the locals was far greater than first anticipated, it made conversing in India seem like a piece of (pan)cake. Finally we managed to hail down a cabmen and pointed to our hostel on a map. He assured us that he knew where it as, but after he took us to the wrong place we lost quite bit of confidence in him. Stefan then inquired at the destination that the cabmen insisted was the place. Luckily, the staff, at what we think was a massage place, spoke a bit of English and we managed to get to our hostel. Morale was depleted... But after we were taken in to a local lovely lady's teashop for our first sample of Chinese tea, our spirits were lifted and we began to feel a little more settled!

15/05/2010

The next morning we hired bikes and headed for Tiananmen Square. It was great to enjoy the freedom of cycling around such a massive city - freedom we hadn't had in India due to the heat of the day/nature of the roads etc. En route, we were 'adopted' by a fellow cyclist, 'Uwe' from Germany, who very kindly offered to show us to Jingshan Park, just north of the Forbidden City. On entrance however, it became clear that Uwe wished to expand the party, and launched into Mandarin dialogue with two young local girls, who probably reluctantly agreed to help 'show us round'. The park was beautiful and from the highest pavillion we had a great view over the Forbidden City. Stef was clearly looking out for a different kind of beauty, and soon he and 'Amy', one of our female tour guides, had disappeared round the back of the pavillion, only to emerge sheepishly 10 minutes later. We waved farewell to our friends and headed north to the picturesque Houhai Lake, where we sipped Tsingtao from a gorgeous rooftop cafe.

16/05/2010

A mammoth day! We somehow managed to oversleep our alarms (as we have everyday this week!) but quickly headed on bikes to the Forbidden city. It is a huge complex (we'd severely underestimated the size!) showcasing fantastic period architecture and a great garden at the rear. We visited the impressively named halls of Imperial Supremacy, Supreme Harmony, Mental Cultivation, and Heavenly Peace, before decideing that 3 hours was enough and calling it a day.

30 minutes and 5 kilometres later, we found ourselves at the famous Silk Market! Few words can describe this place, but we'll natter on for another paragraph cause you probably have nothing better to do than read this blog. Ahem. The market is essentially a place to buy knock off brands, and was densely crammed and 7 floors high. We only made it to 2-3 of the floors but our wallets and our legs had had enough. We used it as a chance to execute our newly honed bargaining skills, and came out with a few corkers from the 'Ralph Lauren' stores... The bargaining was largely done on calculators, but the rather aggressive shopkeepers were more than happy to shout "You are CRAZY MAN!", "This price not POSSIBLE!", "Give me BEST price", "Give me LAST price", "Give me FINAL price" and finally "You are JOKING me!" at the top of their voices, whilst forcibly grabbing our wrists (Ollie even got a half-hearted punch to the shoulder in one rather heated encounter...) We had alot of fun and are now looking really rather good in our new attire!


Thanks for reading folks. Today we visit the Summer Palace, and tomorrow we scale The Great Wall itself! Hope to update before leaving Beijing for Tianjin.

Love

Dan
Ollie
Tim
Stef

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Comments

Veiras on

Good to see that you are learning some useful skills on this trip. Perhaps you could try bartering in Superdry when you return! Brilliant way to get around too. I love these '4 Dots in a row' pics - they make me smile! Keep safe and well chaps. Sue xxxxx

The Messengers on

I have a feeling another parcel will be winging its way home soon - your backpacks must be bursting at the seams and you've only just got started! Sounds very exciting,never a dull moment. All this cycling and walking, not to mention some jetlag, I'm not surprised you're sleeping through the alarm. Lots of love xxxx

nick and ewa on

hey Stef
first of all it was the lovely Indian ladies ,now the Chinese - easy tiger :-)
Beijing looks great , keep enjoying - Dad x

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