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Published: November 10th 2010
We spent 6 nights in the Chinese capital. Most people we talked to agreed that was enough time. We saw most of the major tourist attractions and spent a lot of time on our feet. We are definitely looking forward to some quiet time at our next stop in Qingdao.
The highlight of our time in Beijing was (not surprisingly) the Great Wall. We wanted to go to the wall mid-week so that we could hopefully avoid the big crowds of tourists, though we almost left it too late as we were suffering from a bit of Beijing burn-out by the time we made it. We took the public bus to Badaling and arrived just before 4pm. It was a mad dash from there as we scrambled up the wall trying to get photos while the good light lasted. Sunset arrived a lot sooner than we expected, but we made it to the top just in time to watch the sun disappear behind the layer of smog on the horizon. It was really quite nice and we were surprised to find that the place was not busy at all; most of the shops were closing when we arrived and the
tour busses were gone. We were in for another pleasant surprise when we descended the wall as it got dark and the flood lights came on to light up the wall. We were a bit nervous about catching the bus back in the dark, but sure enough the bus arrived after no more than 2 minutes of waiting.
Even though we expected Beijing to be a huge developed city, we were still shocked by how luxurious it is in some areas. Walking down Wanfujing street near the Forbidden City we passed endless high end mega-malls. With hotels such as the Regent nearby with its Bentley and Rolls Royce dealers on the first floor we found it quite hard to believe that we were still in China. Also, english is widely spoken everywhere and communication was generally much easier than we expected. Then we saw a father holding his baby while the baby took a poo in the middle of Tiananmen Square (thankfully onto a sheet of newspaper) - yup, still China.
The metro was great to get around on, but was packed at all hours of the day. We ate our egg McMuffins for breakfast, shopped for picnic
food at Wu-Mart, and found a great dumpling restaurant for dinner. It was also cute watching the locals carry their puppies around in the basket of their bicycles. At the end of the day, Beijing is probably a good place to start a trip when you're fresh. It's quite exhausting with all the sights and just the sheer number of people.
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