The Forbidden City and the Great Wall

Trip Start Jul 27, 2004
Trip End Dec 13, 2006

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Friday, March 24, 2006

After our flight from Hong Kong we somehow managed to take buses and the subway and find Leo2 Hostel in Beijing where we stayed our first night. The next day we moved nextdoor to a nicer hotel for less money but the hostel was still a great place to meet people and find out information. On our first day we visited the Forbidden City which is where the Chinese Emperors used to live, commoners were forbidden to enter the Palaces, hence the name. It is a huge complex of old temples and gardens which have are beautifully painted and sculpted. Some are in the process of being restored (like a lot of things prior to Beijing Olympics 2008) but there was still lots to see and we spent a couple of hours looking around. We then organised a day trip to visit and hike along the Great Wall and chose to visit a partially unrestored quieter section. The views of the wall stretching into the distance were really impressive and it was great to get up into the mountains and hike along the wall for about 4hours. Our Chinese guide was really friendly and we were all taken to his house for a delicious lunch of numerous local dishes afterwards - and we even managed to get a beer as well! In Beijing itself we tried lots of the street food such as dumplings and 'chinese-style' hamburgers which are like a big savoury doughnut with meat, coriander and onion in the middle - all cooked with an egg to hold it together. On Saturday night we headed out to sample Beijings nightlife and after a few beers watching the English football (yes, you can watch it anywhere!) we found ourselves in a club called 'Poachers'. There were a few foreigners here but it was mainly Chinese students dancing and enjoying themselves and we had great fun joining in and people watching. After a visit to Beijing train station we managed to book tickets for the overnight train to the town of Pingxao and that was where we headed on Sunday night.
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