Beijing 2004

After we arrived in Beijing and got through the hectic morning traffic we finally reached our hotel. Johan jumped down on his bed. Nailbed. That hurt. We had a control panel on our bedside table that was the biggest attraction of the day. We had five different Chinese people to fix our safebox before we could go out. It was really hot (+36) and the pollution was worse then we had imagined.

We bought a map and started walking. It was the most difficult map to interpret we had ever had. Eventually we figured out that we had walked in the opposite direction. We ended up in Friendship store and not Tienanmen Square as we were supposed to. We were really hungry and went to the closest place-Pizza Hut. After that we went to Silk Market, but that was really disappointing. Unfortunately the market lived more on it´s reputation then it´s selection, so we went back to the hotel. The night was already there. After one week in Beijing we still couldn´t find the hotel on the map.

We woke up really dazed by the nail beds and the bad air. We went to the Tienanmen Square. There were guards everywhere looking for human rights activities. As always it was only Chinese people on the square. Most tourists were Chinese at the time and many of them had never seen white people so we were a tourist attraction everywhere we went. We went to the Forbidden City that was really beautiful and it felt amazing to see it in real life when you´ve seen it in so many movies.

After lunch we went to the Summer Palace where we took a dragon boat over the lake. When we got to the palace we looked at the marble boat that the widow empress Cixi had built instead of funding the military. The whole court was transported to the summer palace on boats so they didn´t have to meet ordinary people. They built the Long Corridor to avoid that Cixi would get a tan.The whole corridor is covered with paintings that are Chinese mythology. After visiting a pearl plantation we went back to the hotel in the evening.

Stomach flues had started to appear in our group. 🙁

We started the next day with a Cloysonné factory where Jenny bought a nice dragon. It was left in the bus when we got to Badaling to climb The Great Wall in +38 degrees. We chose the steep way to avoid most of the tourist crowds. Good decision. We had plenty of space and at least 50 meters of the wall for ourselves while people on the other side had to elbow their way. The stairs were easily 50-60 cm high in some places so you really had to climb. It was really worth it and it was extraordinary beautiful. It´s unbelievable how they managed to build the wall with all steeps everywhere. After two hours of climbing we were ready for lunch and we acquainted ourselves with Chinese rice arrack.

Next stop were the Ming Toombs that wasn´t very good. The Sacred Way was nice, but otherwise it wasn´t that much to see. Everything was closed at the time. After that we went to a tea ceremony that was more a touristy version of it to sell expensive tea. Next stop was a silk factory and by that time everybody wanted to go back to the hotel.

When we got to the hotel we changed clothes and went to another hotel for dinner. Of course we got a food poison and we barely made it back to our hotel.

Shopping time! After our stomachs were stabilized a guy at the hotel got us a cab that should take us to Sanlitun. After driving in the opposite direction for half an hour the driver dropped us in the slum. We found another cab as quickly as possible and this time we got it right.

Shopping heaven was waiting for us. We bought a lot of clothes, tablecloth and comforters.

In the evening we went to Jingshan Park to get the view over the Forbidden City. It was fantastic. You can really see how big it is and the view was stunning.

When the sun set we walked to the Bêihâi Gõngyuán park. By that time it was completely dark and we melted in with the chinese population. The lamps were turned off to save energy so you could walk around being invisible. We walked around the lake and watched their gymnastics, jumped when they spitted (and they do that a lot) and took a cab back to the hotel and went to bed.

Jenny felt really bad due to the food poisoning in the morning, but we still went to the Lama temple. It was definitely the best thing we saw in Beijing. It was no tourist magnet. People went there to pray, light incense and spin a mantra. There were five different halls in different styles that were beautifully decorated. The largest Buddha-statue was 27 meters high and cut out of one tree. Impressive. We just embraced the atmosphere and enjoyed the sounds.

We took a cab to Sanlitun to buy some things we couldn´t carry with us the day before. When we got to the mall Jenny felt dizzy and walked against the exit to get some air, but she didn´t make it. She fainted in an escalator and collapsed and fell to the stone floor. Three front teeth were punched out and shoulder, head and hip got some good knocks as well.

After a wild taxiride back to the hotel a doctor was called and then an ambulance came that took us to a tourist hospital. Bad idea. We were really shocked and couldn´t think straight. The symptoms of food poisoning were really clear, but the staff at the hospital took every chance to make money instead of telling us. We had to pay 30 USD just for them to enter the room and point at Jennys stomach. Then we had to pay another 30 USD for another doctor to ask some questions and so it went on. When they wanted to do a brain x-rays we had it and left.

Johan kept watch over Jenny the coming night, just in case she had a concussion from the bad fall. Jenny was in a really bad shape when she woke up the following day. Teeth hurting like crazy, the entire body totally bruised and the stomach was a whole different story. Still she refused to remain in bed. We therefor took a cab to the Temple of Heaven. After visiting the Lama Temple it felt kind of uninteresting. The Temple for Prayer is surrounded by an echowall where all tourists are screaming to each other to be heard on the other side. A lot of screaming considering the amount of tourists.

After wandering around in the park for a couple of hours we tried to get some fries that were the only thing Jenny could eat with her broken teeth. We ran into China’s correspondence to McDonald’s where Johan took a really nasty burger and Jenny was happy with her fries.

We decided to go to Beijing Zoo to look at pandas. We were a little concerned about the long drive. The cabdrivers drove like maniacs. We ironically decided that if we had survived the previous day we would probably survive this day too. Not likely. We got the worst driver of them all. He was driving in 90 km/h in the heavy traffic constantly slapping himself in the face not to fall asleep. Still he fell asleep a couple of times a minute. It was really scary and the zoo was 30 minutes away. There was a lot of traffic so we were really surprised when we stepped out of the car alive.

The pandas were really cute, but it was really hard for us to see how the Chinese people are treating the animals at the zoo. They had absolutely no respect for animals at all. Except for the pandas. It was really cruelty to animals. We went to a dolphinshow and then we left to buy some luggage to get all our things home. We spent the last night packing.

Photos from Beijing