Due to the bank holiday in China (May Day) I was off work for 4 days so me and Cez packed our stuff and took a train from Jishou to Beijing on Saturday morning (April, 28th). It takes 24 hours by train to get from Hunan province (Jishou) to Beijing, so we had only 2 days out of 4 off to spend in Beijing. Not so many but if you know what you want to see and do there, plan your trip carefully, you can manage to explore this city properly within 48 hours as we did. The plan was simple: Sunday- the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Tiantan Park and the Temple of Heaven, Beijing duck for a dinner, trying some local food there, enjoying the scenery of Beijing at night. Monday: The Great Wall of China. Tuesday morning: Summer Palace.
Before we got to Beijing, we had spent 24 hours on the train sitting on the floor as the train was, surprisingly, overcrowded :) We bought standing tickets to make this trip as cheap as possible hoping to get some seats anyway. Unfortunately, this time people were not as kind as always.Nobody gave up the seat for us as we got into the train so we sat down on the floor, in front of the toilet.
Time didn’t fly this time and every minute seemed to be an hour. We were listening to music, taking some pictures of ourselves in the mirror, etc… :)
We also tried to make a plan of our stay in Beijing so I opened my notebook to write down all spots we would visit there but I noticed I had to pen. I asked the random guy to lend me the pen. He was like “Of course, here you are” and started to talk Chinese to us. After a few minutes of a nice conversation we became friends. The guy was a big fan of heavy metal music, he was extremely funny and talkative and he loved to play guitar. We had exchanged our QQ numbers before he left and I hope to stay in touch with him.
Look at this guy, isn’t he funny? He kept making me laugh… :)
We also met an amazing Chinese family the same day on the train. It was nearly a midnight and I was sitting on my backpack listening to music when the old lady approached me and said in Chinese “Here is a seat for you and your friend”. She walked through the whole compartment just to tell me this. WoW! I was speechless and I smiled back to her. We sat together and had an amazing time. I spoke to her daughter (on my right) and her husband (the old gentleman in the middle) for 1 hour. We sang songs together and I tried to speak as much Chinese as I could. I got upset when they got off the train at the next stop. I already miss them. I look at this picture and it brings me back so many good memories of that night.
We arrived at Beijing West train station on Sunday, early in the morning. It felt so good to be back. I was blissfully happy to be there!!!
When I was standing outside the train station, where taxi drivers were shouting at you, people were rushing somewhere and you could see the heavy traffic jam just in fron of you, it reminded me of my last visit in this extraordinary city where I was cycling and climbing up the Great Wall of China for the first time! Good times…
I opened my notebook to check the way to our hostel. We were supposed to take bus number 67 and get off at the last stop. The roads were so busy, there where people everywhere pushing you and kicking to get past so it took us at least 30 minutes to get into the bus. The problem was we took the right bus but going in the wrong direction. We found out at the last stop so we had to get back to the train station and take the same bus going in the right direction. If we hadn’t taken the wrong way bus, we would have had an extra hour to sightsee but it happens :) …
We finally got into our hostel. No doubt, it was one of the best hostels I have ever been to- Leo Hostel. Firstly, the location was perfect as it was located 5 minutes (walk) from the Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Secondly, it was super easy to catch any bus going to other Beijing spots as the bus stop was nearby. Thirdly, I was amazed by its design. There were red lantern hanging everywhere, old wooden rocking chairs and a little fountain. This place was so cool! Just a perfect place to stay in for a couple of days: cheap, great staff and nice atmosphere.
We left our backpacks in the room and went out. We were both so hungry after a long exhausting train trip so we quickly found some nice places to have something to eat.
We started from a nice omelette…
Then tried some baozi… YUMMY!
Then a fresh almonds and sunflower seeds bread… So sweet!
To end up eating Beijing spicy noodles! :)
After we treated ourselves with a great Beijing delicacy, we were ready to go sightseeing :) !
We firstly visited the Tiananmen Square. That’s the biggest square in Beijing. The panorama of this square was simply beautiful. It was surrounded by fountains and luckily, there were not many people there so we could take a walk peacefully.
The same day, later on, we came back to the square to admire its beauty at night where the lights are on and the fountains change its color. Great view!
The Tiananmen Square right behind me…
Then we moved to the Forbidden City which was a huge disappointment for us. In Lonely Planet book it says that the Forbidden City is one of the best-preserved palace complexes in the world with over a million rare and valuable objects in the Museum but we couldn’t find anything interesting there. Being there was kind of boring…
There were many tulips there so I felt like being in the Netherlands.
We had some rest and take a walk in the park…
Taking some pictures…
We were pretty tired after a few hours spent in the Forbidden City taking lots of pictures but we still had some time left to pop into Tiantan Park.
This park was a peaceful and relaxing place where you could spot some Chinese playing traditional Chinese music set up for a few songs and a crowd gathers, a gaming similar to hackysack and people sleeping on the bench. Tiantan Park offers wide walkways among cedars and we enjoyed taking a walk there a lot.
After we walked through the Tiantan Park we saw the world famous Temple of Heaven- huge and impressive…
To be continued.