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April 29th 2017
Published: June 6th 2017
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The beginning of a another great adventure....

This trip would prove to be a bit different from our previous excursions; a sizable chunk of it would be with an organized tour which we typically don't do, and geographically this would be all over the proverbial map and returning to a couple of previous destinations...starting here in Beijing, then taking a 40 hour train ride west to Tibet (okay, still technically China but I cannot call it other than Tibet), finishing the tour in Kathmandu Nepal, hopping over to Bangkok Thailand and finally some R&R on the tiny island of Ko Samet three hours or so south of Bangkok...yep, a little bit of everything...

The focus of this trip was really Tibet, a land both K and I had long had a desire to visit...but with the visa requirements being pretty complicated to sort out on one's own (damn near impossible really as far as I could tell) we opted for a G Adventures tour in order to simplify the visa process (they took care of most of them) and frankly for the transportation and access to all the sites we wanted to see...more on all this in a later post...

For now it's Beijing; we arrived late afternoon on the 29th and pretty much went directly to the hotel and chilled out for the evening (once again flights to Asia for us are long and tiring)...the following day we had mostly to ourselves, we didn't have to meet up with the tour group until 6 pm so after some coffee and granola bars we headed out to see some of the city...

Turns out our hotel was in a really great location, and after consulting the map we discovered that Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City were both within walking distance so made our way down for a quick look (we would be returning to both sites with the group in a couple of days as well)...kinda cool seeing Tiananmen, and the location of the famous standoff between protester and tank...the Forbidden City was pretty cool as well but beyond the architecture there really wasn't a whole lot to see...

Received some location tips from K's brother who travels to Beijing frequently for work, and two of these sites were close to the Forbidden City so we decided to check those out in the afternoon...first spot was a park he really liked, but finding the entrance was a bit tricky and when we finally did we discovered you had to pay to get into these parks, and there was a massive lineup for tickets, so we quickly put the kibosh on that idea...fortunately just across the street was a cool little lake with paddle boats, and a nice boardwalk with restaurants and shops that did not require a ticket for entry...timing was great too as it was now lunch and we were hungry, settled into a place to watch the goings-ons and mow down on some fantastic dumplings...

Took a stroll around the lake, it looked like it might be a busy spot at night with all the clubs lining the boardwalk, but we were now off to the second recommendation of K's brother: The Great Leap Brewing Company, a microbrewery with a few locations in Beijing...had to meander down a few Hutongs before we finally found the place (Hutongs are little alleyways or backstreets common in Beijing, and lots of character to them...). The brewery itself was pretty nondescript from the outside but once we found the entryway we stumbled upon a beautiful garden patio with a tiny bar at the back, awesome!

GLB makes most of their beers, so we started with a flight each to sample a few of them, all really good...my favourite was the stout, but unfortunately I had had the last pint out of the keg and as it turned out in Beijing, not sure if they were discontinuing it permanently or just for a while but was disappointed I couldn't have another! Haha...

Chatted with some other tourists and then made our way back to the hotel, had some time to relax and then it was time to meet the rest of the gang on the tour...turned out to be just six of us, with two Russians (Alex and Maria), one Swiss (Kevin) and another fellow Canuck (Erin)...also met our guide for the first time, a Tibetan named Jinba...had some paperwork to fill out, went through the itinerary and then finished the evening with a spread of Peking Duck at a nearby restaurant, yummy...

The following day was a trip out to see the Great Wall of China, something I had been looking forward to...took a couple of hours to get there but really cool
HutongHutongHutong

...on our way to Great Leap Brewery...
seeing it snaking along this mountain ridge...the gang decided to hike up, but with only a couple of hours to explore the wall K and I decided to hop on the gondola to get up quicker...glad we did too...

The Wall is stunning, really cool seeing it stretch out in both directions and climb a pretty steep portion of the ridge in one of the directions...we opted for this, thinking we would be able to get some better views of the wall in general and we were not disappointed...some hard climbing in spots as it was near vertical but managed to get to the end of the preserved portion of the wall and then see some of the original wall beyond that was in a bit of state of disrepair...

Great hang and then it was back in the bus and on our way back to Beijing...went for a cool meal of Hotpot that night at a crazy busy/noisy joint somewhere in Beijing (we took the subway so no idea where we popped up)...lots of fun cooking your own food in a huge copper pot with boiling water in it...

Final day we returned to Tiananmen Square for another walkabout, and then a guided tour of the Forbidden City...great learning some of the history but again beyond the architecture not a whole lot there in my opinion...this left us with the afternoon to ourselves before we boarded the long train ride to Lhasa, so off we went to another Great Leap Brewery this time with our new amiga Erin with us...with some hand gestures and butchering of street names we managed to get the cab driver to drop us off at the right location, then some more Hutongs before finding the brewery...

Reason for the return to GLB was twofold: K's brother raved about the burgers and the other location did not have the T-shirt I wanted...I have likely mentioned in previous posts about my T-shirt addiction, and fortunately I scored the one I wanted here...unfortunately the kitchen was going through some sort of renovation so no hot food (no burger! Gah...), had to settle for a salad and a couple of pints before heading back to pack for the next part of our adventure...

(Some photos copyright of Karen C., denoted by (KC)...used with kind permission)


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LionnessLionness
Lionness

...at the Forbidden City...
FlightsFlights
Flights

...the Lovely K and our samples at Great Leap Brewery...
Enjoying our samples...Enjoying our samples...
Enjoying our samples...

...at Great Leap Brewery...
Lovely KLovely K
Lovely K

...at the Great Wall...


6th June 2017

'...then finished the evening with a spread of Peking Duck at a nearby restaurant'
Ah, how delicious and lovely does that sound? Looking forward to reading about that epic train trip! :)
6th June 2017

Not too bad at all!
Ah the train ride, something I was looking forward to and enjoyed but was happy when it was over...left at 8pm, and we were in the hard sleepers so six bunks and no door...the gang wasn't all together either, we were fortunate that we were together and with two others, one of the gals was alone with 5 other locals...and squat toilets on a moving train were quite the adventure...haha...
7th June 2017

Canuck on the move
That sounds like a great itinerary! Lol ah yes squat toilets on a moving train. I remember well. Have a great time and there's No shame in traveling by group. They Might surprise you.
7th June 2017

Canuck on the move
It truly was a great itinerary, and the tour and folks on it were excellent...pretty impressed with G Adventures, lots of stuff seen but also a healthy amount of "do whatever you want" time which is always nice...plus we had a week after the tour to ourselves for some R&R...
8th June 2017
Flights

Travel
The things we are willing to go through when traveling. ha ha
8th June 2017
Flights

Many many sacrifices...
...well, not at the brewery, unless you consider the stout running out and not having the t-shirt I wanted in my size...haha...

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