Visiting Beijing – my opinion on the city

These words are written by me after about 4 days in the city as a visitor in March 2014.
I was excited about Beijing as it is one of the biggest cities in the world and is always in the news with the Olympics staged there in 2008. The main thing I wanted to do whilst in Beijing was see the Great Wall.
I arrived on a Saturday afternoon, I caught the airport express into the city as then the metro a few stops to the area in which my hotel was located. The Novotel peace is where I was staying. It was a good 15 minute walk to the hotel and a pretty long way especially with all the bags I had from the flight from shanghai. The website for the hotel suggested it was a 5 minute walk which is not true as I am a quick walker and it took me 15.
The metro stations are very old and quite poorly maintained and hardly cleaned with hardly any escalators which makes the metro quite different to shanghai as most stations there have them. However the trains were easy To catch and I never waited more than 2 minutes for one to come and take me to the next destination. The metro is really the only way to travel Beijing as a taxi would add up to big bucks and also the traffic is terrible unpredictable and could take a large amount of time to get from a to b.
The city in my opinion is very untidy and a fair bit different to other cities in china and around the world.
The pollution in china is really bad and I can certainly tell why people ware face masks around, I should of done it but I didn’t feel I should as it is disrespectful to the native Chinese people. The amount of cigaret smoke is also hard to come to terms with especially as a non smoker it was quite tough on the body to deal with it day in day out. It really must be hard to wake up most days in the smog or what ever it is and not see the sky.
So as a tourist I have to admit by using the metro system to get to all the places to see you will spend an awful lot of time underground walking around with no Idea of where you actually are. I will also say that some of the stations that you are required to change lines of different metro trains you will be walking for sometimes 10 minutes and it is not a relaxing walk as there are 100’s of people rushing to get to the next train also. This is really no fun at all and in the time I was in Beijing I reckon I covered more Kms on foot than I ever had before in 3 days.
I am trying to think how long a good time would be in Beijing I am thinking 2 full days and minimum transit time in between. So if you arrive in the evening day 1, day 2 to tour the sites in Beijing and then day 3 a trip to the great wall and leave early on the day 4. This will give you enough time to enjoy your time there without hating it. I was there for just a little bit longer than that what I have just wrote and I really did start to hate it all.
I certainly do recommend seeing the city but just a quick stopover will be ample time to see plenty of things.

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