Coming to Korea, the Big Plan has always been to travel the world. It still is number one on the agenda and it will always be number one. I just never thought it would get off to such a quick start.
I can’t remember, but my guess is that in early March out somewhere in Seoul four of us toyed around with the idea to go to China during the first long weekend we get as teachers. The ball was on the roll and a couple of weeks later everything was sorted. So on June 6th me, Monique, Ruben (a new friend from Monique’s orientation) and Jade (another new friend and one of my co-workers) took off for a quick four day visit to Beijing.
The weather sucked balls, but Beijing has a lot to offer and a determined tour guide, David, took us to pretty much every tourist attraction in big city. So after checking in to our hotel we were off to our first stop – Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. A great way to start the trip! The Tiananmen square is huge, but the history and stories David told us about the Forbidden City stole the show. This city itself is absolutely breathtaking and it was a pity we couldn’t spend some more time exploring it. It would be an injustice for me to tell you more about the history and the stories of the Forbidden City, but what I heard blew my mind. From the time and the effort put into building the city to the stories about the kings and how the went about their daily lives, everything, was just amazing. Before the end of first day we also spent some time at the silk market and a jaw dropping circus/acrobatic performance.
Our moods were dampened (no pun intended) with the news that the weather was worse than the previous and the blow was this big because it was time to have a walk on the Great Wall of China. Regardless, we had an early start and stopped at a big market selling jewelry, souvenirs and furniture all hand carved out of Jade. Then finally, THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA! The weather was depressing yes, but it was not going to ruin the moment. Never did I actually think that I would be setting foot on this world wonder this soon into the new adventure and even though we couldn’t take the best pictures, we actually climbed and walked on the great Great Wall. We were all over the Badaling part of the wall and took pictures none the less. What an experience!!! Later that day we went to the Sacred Way Of Ming’s Tomb and the Summer Palace. More awesome sights, history, culture and stories.
Day three of the trip was a bit more relaxed and we visited the Temple of Heaven where we again, heard all these amazing stories as we wandered around. The four of us split up for the rest of the day and went to the Beijing Zoo. The saddest place I’ve been to in a long while where the animals don’t live in well kept enclosures and visitors threw food and candy to the bears and wild dogs. We got to see pandas too, but not a lot of smiles. Realizing that we couldn’t really do anything about it, we headed off in to an actual China Town mall, IN CHINA! More fake goods than you would ever imagine, but a fun and funny place to visit nonetheless. We topped the night off by eating street food, which included scorpions, fried ice cream and rather oily and tasteless noodles, in the famous Wangfujing street market.
That pretty much sums up a quick trip through Beijing. The rest of China is still on the list and hopefully better pictures of the Great Wall, but all in all a damn good way to start The Travels.