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Stop 7 - Beijing and the Great Wall


View Overland adventures - UK to Ho Chi Minh City and back without getting on a plane! on Chloemillen92's travel map.

After a 2 night train journey across Mongolia and the Gobi Desert into China (the mountains in the last Chinese section were incredible) we arrived into a very hot Beijing. The city seemed less chaotic than we had been expecting and the easy, cheap metro was incredibly useful and beautifully air conditioned. Our AirBnB was in a friendly, local neighbourhood so the first afternoon we explored the local parks and shops, followed with the most incredible Peking duck (we got given the duck carcass at the end as a nice bonus...).

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The next day we headed down to explore some of the hutongs - the traditional alleys that residential Beijing was made from - and to the Temple of Heaven Park. This huge park full of ancient cypress trees was a great place to wander and get lost, but also full of temples like the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests below. The series of temples/altars were perfectly aligned and were used in various ways in the ancient worship of the Heavens by the Emporers. The decorations and tiles were beautiful.

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Exploring more of the hutongs we headed for the Drum and Bell Tower square for a couple of beers and were again struck by how relaxed the city was, with Chinese families playing and scooting around until after dark. The Drum and Bell Towers were used to keep time across the city back in the day.

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The next day we set off to a small village north of Beijing, Zhuangdaokou, via a couple of buses and lots of sign language at bus stops. The second part of the bus journey took us through mountains to the village, where we found a small guesthouse with a great dog. We got up early the next day to try and avoid the 35 °C heat to hike up the hill to the Great Wall! After getting a little lost in the undergrowth we made it onto one of the "wild" unrestored sections of the wall. The heat of the day had very much caught up with us but the handy watchtowers along the wall make for great viewpoints and shelters from the sun. We hiked along to a restored section and clambered up and down some ridiculously steep steps. The area to the north was beautiful, with nothing but mountains and trees in sight and only a few other people on the wall.

Heading back to Beijing, we went to explore the Temple of Earth Park and found it full of locals playing Chinese chess and cards, practising their singing, playing instruments, doing Tai Chi and brushing up on their calligraphy with huge brushes and water on the pavement slabs.

Posted by Chloemillen92 06:00 Archived in China Tagged china beijing great_wall

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