Published: August 6th 2012August 6th 2012
I’m over the 2 month mark now..would you believe that!? It feels like it has gone too quickly and soon enough I will be heading home…ok that’s probably taking it a bit far ;)
A lot has happened in the last month. A lovely visit from Mr Stolk has kept me busy to say the least! I have had multiple adventures and countless opportunities to discover parts of Beijing that I never knew existed and all with my best friend.
Jaan and I were very lucky to visit the summer palace on a really beautiful day. We enjoyed looking around the palace and got a cheap tour guide who gave us the history behind the buildings in the palace as well as the meaning behing the paintings and statues. Unfortunately it was a weekend and thus was very busy, as with everywhere else.
Jaan was a huge hit with the Chinese and was regularly asked for a photo. Jaan saw this as a potential business opportunity, the slogan being – “photo with Jaan 5 yuan”. Needless to say, his business venture failed.
We went to see an acrobatics show
at the Chaoyang theatre. The final act began with one acrobat riding a motorcyle in a spherical cage..it ended with eight riders in the cage. . . very impressive. My favorite act was the acrobats on bicycles where they made a moving human pyramid of 9 women. I found it very fitting considering cycling is a major mode of transport here.
I really wanted to go to the Temple of Heaven so I dragged Jaan along with me. The temple is very beautiful, we were lucky to find the Northern part of the grounds relatively tourist free..but unfortunately this was not the case with the southern section. In one of the more popular areas we came across a group of people encircling one tree and holding out there hands as though to touch it even though it was several meters away – the tree had spiritual relevance, however it was quite an amusing site. We came across a photo booth where a group of Chinese ladies rush around and dress you in the attire of an emperor and empress and take photos of you in a throne etc etc. Extremely corny, I know, and Jaan took a
lot of convincing, but it was absolutely hilarious!
The one thing Jaan said to me when he first arrived in Beijing was that he had to try a scorpion…and he certainly did. We went to Wangfujing Street, it is a night market where you can buy any strange food imaginable like snakes, spiders, starfish, scorpions etc.
Even though I have already been to the Forbidden City, I took Jaan. My visit was made more exciting by a game that Jaan and I played. Standing in the entrance hall way to the main section of the city, Jaan and I would wait until a Chinese tour group came through (of which there are plenty because Chinese love tours!). We would then point at the ceiling and ohhh and ahhh for a time while counting to see how many people looked up. It offered endless entertainment.
I took Jaan to Mutianyu Great Wall – we were planning to go to Jiankou but were unsure if it was closed for restoration or not. We took the public bus and the bus driver said he would tell us which station we should get off at.
About half way there we stopped at a station filled with men yelling “Mutainyu” “Mutainyu” at us….much like seagulls. The bus driver kept telling us it was the way to go, but as this also happened last time. I wasn’t so sure. So we stayed on the bus –which turned out to be the right choice. I was surprised that even the bus driver tried to trick us, most likely because he would get a cut if the seagulls picked up a tourist to take to the wall. Things like this make me cynical about China and the Chinese. Not that all of my experiences have been like this, but the more touristy your trip, the more they seem to try and exploit you. That aside, we had a wonderful trip to the wall and climbed right to the end tower – we counted 779 steps between 3 tours. It was very steep and hard work. But the view and the cold beer at the top were definitely worth it.
Jaan and I visited my favorite place in Beijing – Houhai. I love this place because it is buzzing with life but still very relaxing. Every time
you walk around the lake you see something different, oldies dancing in the park or doing tai chi, people playing ping pong or practicing with nun chucks – I didn’t think places like this existed in Beijing because life is so busy here. In Houhai, Jaan took me on my perfect cheesy Chinese date! – it included a balloon in the shape of spongebob, clip-clip-on animal ears, delicious food and equally delicious cocktails! The only thing that was missing was a ride on a swan-shaped pedal boat! hehe
We also travelled to Xian, the nation’s old capital, but I think that is too much to include in this entry.
There are more photos below