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Published: October 20th 2010
I used to think that when I researched my trips I was pretty good at finding the best time to visit, when we arrived in Beijing it was one of the biggest bank holidays in China, The National Day, which ironically lasts seven days from the 1st - 7th of October, we arrived on the 2nd & I was totally unaware of the bank holiday.
For those of you not familiar with the term ‘camera rage’ let me explain, it’s a little bit like road rage but camera rage is something you get when you are trying to line up a picture, you’re just adjusting the focus about to get the perfect shot & some impatient f*** walks in to your picture. That isn’t necessarily the whole problem, it becomes the problem however when just as that person walks out of your shot another ten walk into it, or when someone is taking a picture/getting their picture taken exactly where you want your picture just after they take their picture they decide to stand and look at it blocking your view & not letting you take the same picture & by the time they move someone else is now standing
in the same place.
Now on to my blog about Beijing, when landed & were waiting for our luggage that was the first time we heard it, someone waiting for their bag was coughing up a big bit of phlegm & spat it on the floor, I had heard that people in China do this so wasn’t that shocked, I forgot however to mention that to Nikki who was mortified by what she had just seen. I cannot tell you how many times I heard the sound of people coughing up phlegm during our time in China, everywhere from the streets to chefs in the kitchen of the restaurant we were eating at, yes that’s right CHEFS AT THE RESTAURANT WE WERE EATING AT WHILST THEY WERE COOKING OUR FOOD!
By the time we got to the hotel it was early evening so we decided to just have a meal at the hotel & have an early night, we both ordered our food & whilst we were waiting the waiter bought over some food & asked if we would like to try it, we asked what it was but he said he didn’t know the name for them
in English but would find out, we tucked in & some of the stuff was quite nice but one thing was really chewy & sort of had the texture of chewing fat, the waiter came back & told us that was jellyfish, I laughed & said to Nikki I bet he does that to all the westerners that stay at that hotel.
The next morning we started off our sightseeing with a trip to the Summer Palace, when we got to the entrance there were people everywhere my heart sunk ‘Please don’t our whole holiday be like this’. We took a stroll around & were shown the rooms where the emperors would sleep & the rooms where his concubines would sleep, however because of the high number of people a sheet had been put up so people could not see inside the rooms as the high numbers of people would create a huge traffic jam. As we continued to walk around we walked along the world’s longest painted corridor, it was nearly impossible to get a picture though as there were so many people walking along it that you weren’t so much walking you were more like cattle being
rounded up & told where to go. Also at the Summer Palace is Kunming Lake, a manmade lake only 1.5 metres deep, our guide pointed to a small island & told us that is where we would be going on our boat trip, the queue for the boat trip was very long so we decided to get in the queue early but when we decided to queue up we were told that they were no longer selling tickets as it was very windy & getting worse.
I was beginning to feel really down at the fact there were so many people & we weren’t getting a chance to see everything we had travelled so far to see, next stop the Forbidden City, this was one of the places I was looking forward to visiting the most, it took ages to get to it as we were stuck in traffic, we actually got out of the car mid traffic & walked a fair distance to it to make things quicker, again the queue was huge to get in & once again certain parts were closed or had sheets up so you couldn’t see inside, I cannot tell you how gutted
I felt having booked our holiday during the busiest time in China. I managed to get a few pictures I was happy with but our guide wasn’t very good with a camera & every time I asked him to take a picture of us it came out rubbish.
Our visit to Tiananmen Square, the world’s largest public square, was very brief, it consisted of us walking from the exit of the Forbidden City through an underpass emerging in Tiananmen Square where there were hundreds if not thousands of people standing around & we literally walked from one end to another in a matter of five minutes or less, it was impossible to get a picture with no people in it & trying to get a picture of the monuments on the square was not fun at all as nobody seemed to be looking where they were going & kept bumping into me whilst I was taking pictures.
At the end of our first day of our holiday I felt exhausted, a day at work is less exhausting, we went for dinner at a Sichuan restaurant & this is where Nikki found out that Sichuan food is spicy (Nikki
doesn’t like spicy food!), we asked for the least spicy thing for her & when it came out it was so hot she literally couldn’t eat it & began to choke. Our guide had to ask the people in the restaurant not to put any chilli’s on any of the other dishes, after he had ordered our food for us (thank god he was there) he left, we suddenly noticed that everyone in the restaurant was staring at us, one of the waitresses came over & started to put bits of all of the various dishes on to Nikki’s plate & was telling her to eat, at this point EVERYONE in the restaurant was looking at us, this is probably the least comfortable I have ever felt in a restaurant.
After the madness of our first day in Beijing I was not feeling optimistic about our trip to the great wall, we arranged to meet up with our guide an hour earlier than the designated time of 9am in the hope that we might have some time at the Great Wall without many people there, whilst in the car on the way there we got stuck in the worst
traffic jam I have ever seen, nine lanes wide & at a standstill. I suggested to the guide for us to get out & walk so we got out & walked along the motorway for about 30 minutes to get to the entrance to the part of the wall we were visiting. All I could hear is the sound of thousands of engines & car horns, the smell of petrol & the heat were not a good mixture, as I caught my first glimpse of the wall I could see a wave of different colours, the colours I could see were people's clothing, there was not one part I could see without people on it. There were the usual people trying to sell touristy rubbish at the entrance but a little shake of the head to say no & they left us alone, definitely the least pushy people I've ever come across, but I think it could also have something to do with the millions of people at the wall. When we stepped foot onto the wall it felt less like a pleasurable experience & more like hard work walking through the crowds, you couldn't take in the views because
you had to constantly look around you to make sure you weren't about to bump into someone, however no one else cares where they are walking so after a while you don’t feel like you have to look where you are going. Trying to take a picture was impossible without having 100 strangers in the back ground, being the optimistic person I am I kept telling myself that a picture with hundreds of people in it will be a story in itself & a really unique experience but deep down I’d have preferred if no one was there. We walked really far along the wall, about half way the guide said he’d wait for us nearer the bottom....the light weight, as we began to walk back to our guide we were about half way back & Nikki said “where is my cardigan”, she had dropped it & so she (not me) went all the way back up to get it & she found it too, lol.
After lunch we were waiting for our guide AGAIN & a huge insect flew onto my face, I batted it away but in my moment of panic when it landed on my face
I somehow managed to hit it down my top trapping it inside, I could feel it crawling around & almost flipped out, luckily it got out & no one got hurt, lol. We finished the day with a trip to the Ming Tombs & took a stroll along the ‘Sacred Path’, it was a lot less busy here, thank god, in our itinerary it said we would visit two of the Olympic stadiums built for the games, the trip consisted of parking on the motorway on the opposite side to the stadiums & our guide saying “there it is, feel free to take pictures” luckily I wasn’t interested in seeing the stadiums. When we drove on we turned off of the motorway into really bad traffic, our driver turned the car around a full 180 & drove back onto the motorway, that’s right he drove onto the motorway the wrong way down a one way street AND a police car drove towards us whilst he did it & all they did was flash their lights at him & let him carry on lol, now I know why I have seen so many crashes in Beijing.
On our last day
in Beijing we visited the Yonghe Lamasery, the biggest Lamasery in Beijing, here we saw hundreds of people lighting incense sticks making their wishes & praying, people would also make wishes by throwing coins into fountains or leaving them on sculptures, at one point I saw a little kid reaching his arm through & picking up all the coins & putting them into his pocket lol. We had lunch at a restaurant near Dragon Lake, a beautifully secluded lake in the city, we then visited the Temple of Heaven, it was much busier here than at the Lamasery, the highlight came when I saw a shop that lets you dress up in traditional ancient Chinese clothing for pictures, I’m a typical tourist I love that stuff so Nikki & I got our picture, at one point I was worried they wouldn’t have a costume to fit me as they gave me the biggest size & it was about 2 inches too small to go around my neck. After I eventually found a costume to fit & had my picture they let us go outside & take some pictures of our own, this was when about 20 Chinese people crowded around
to take pictures of us, I think it was mainly because you could still see my trainers, lol.
Unfortunately I can’t say I enjoyed myself in Beijing as there were too many people, I have no one to blame but myself & lack of research, I think Beijing could have been one of my favourite cities with its big city feel & being steeped in history but for me the huge quantity of people & lack of manners from most of them made it one of the worst cities I have visited.
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