A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about beijing

Stop 21 - Xi'an and Beijing


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

We arrived into a VERY hot Xi'an (42 degrees) after a slightly stressful cancelled train journey, meaning we got there a bit later than planned. We entertained ourselves drinking Chinese beer until it cooled down a bit and then went up onto the huge city walls to explore. We managed to make it around 20 minutes along before a crowd of people starting sprinting towards us and we noticed how dark the sky had got... Not wanting to be left behind, we joined the fleeing crowds from what turned out to be a sandstorm, followed by one of the biggest storms we've ever seen.

The sky was full of lightning for hours.

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The biggest attraction for the city is the world famous Terracotta Warriors, a quick bus ride away. The warriors were created as part of the first Chinese Emperor's tomb and are just of a ridiculous scale. They were discovered in the 1970s by local farmers trying to dig a new well, stumbling across 3 giant pits that have still not been entirely excavated. Every single warrior is unique, with a different facial expressions and clothing.

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Xi'an is fairly unique in China, having a large Muslim population and a pedestrianised Muslim quarter. The food was brilliant, with lots more street food than other parts of China, including the Chinese hamburger and cold, sesame noodles. There are also old, Chinese-style mosques, complete with moon-doors!

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The city walls in the dark!

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Delicious dumplings!

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We had another cancelled night train that we were supposed to be taking to Beijing, so had to change our plans slightly and catch a much more expensive high-speed train the next morning. After dropping our bags at our AirBnB and making for the Forbidden City, we discovered the tickets were sold out for the day and headed up to Jingshan Park instead. The park contains pretty much the only hill in Beijing, giving amazing views of the city and directly over the Forbidden City.

Posted by Chloemillen92 12:54 Archived in China Tagged storm china beijing xi'an lightning terracotta_warriors jingshan_park muslim_quarter peking_duck chinese_hamburger Comments (0)

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 Comments (0)

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