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.

Beijing Great Wall of China

Photos at the bottom of the blog, don’t forget to check them out.

This morning I was met at my hotel by the guide Alice. I was pretty happy to find out that it was going to be just me on the tour of the wall. We left the hotel at 8am to head for the Great Wall of China something I have always wanted to see. The part of the wall I was going to see was the Mutianyu which is where Michelle Obama was just yesterday I was told this is the best part to see as it has been restored quite well and less tourists tended to travel here. We drove for a good hour and a half before we arrived at a jade stone factory where they had an extensive range of products for sale.
I purchased a blue bracelet which looks pretty flash. All products were genuine jade stone. We also had a bit of information given to is about the products for sale and some of the stories behind some of the different sculptures. There were a lot of things worth some huge figures.
We then continued in the car for another 1 hour and arrived at the base of the Great Wall where there were hundreds of people trying to sell me a shirt or souvenir from the wall. My guide suggested I keep walking as they will hassle you massively for a sale.
We went up the huge mountain in a cable car which only took about 5 minutes. We then took the left hand side of the wall on for a bit of a walk. The views were amazing but viewing was only about 500m due to a large blanket of fog or from what I can see is pollution. I reckon we walked about 1km before my guide Alice was feeling a bit cooked so she suggest I go ahead on my own. So I passed my jacket to her and set off on what was to be the steepest climb of my life. The steps were a good 300/400mm in height which would be totally illegal in most other countries offering a walk to tourists. There were less people as I went on as it does become quite hard work. I was on a bit of a mission so I had a crack and my calf muscles were burning pretty bad but it was all well worth it when I got to the top which was probably another 1km along. By now the tourist were quite scarce. The wall also went back to an unpaved bush track. It was very natural and probably what the wall actually looks like now. So I was very glad that I went a bit further along. By now I was blowing a bit so I took a few photos and talked to some of the other people climbing the wall. They all wanted a photo with me as I passed most of them on the way up. On my way back down I met a Chinese couple who had a dog which must of walked up the mountain with them. So I picked it up and had a photo with the dog. Also some young kids who were probably about 5-6 years old who had also walked the whole way by themselves. There were a lot of tourists who were not dressed for the occasion with a lot in suit pants and shoes, I actually did not realise it would be so challenging so I was glad to be wearing shorts and t shirts as I had the previous days even though the temperature is only about 18. I trundled back down the mountain and met Alice again and we then walked back to the cable car and then down the mountain to where we met back up with our driver Mr Wong, we had to wait a few minutes for him and I suggested to Alice that maybe Mr Wong has taken a Wong turn but I am unsure if she understood my humour.
We drove for about half an hour where we stopped for lunch at a traditional Chinese restaurant. Alice and I had some nice food and I mastered the chop sticks which was a positive. After lunch I then was taken around a factory where they make pots, it takes them 5 days to make a product that sells for about $100.00. As a business person I can’t really see how they can make a very good profit. The work they were doing was so intricate so full credit to the workers for having such patience.
We then drove for another 1.5 hours and had some traditional Chinese tea, I was pretty much forced to buy some tea as the saleswomen was chasing me around the shop. I decided to buy some dried fruit tea which tasted quite nice. We drove for another 30 mins and we were back to my Hotel.
Today was a great day, I am going to do some research on how many people visit the Great Wall and how much money it must generate for the country. Certainly is a must see if you are going to Beijing

Thanks for reading my blog and I hope to do a few more in the near future please feel free to comment on the page..

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