Saturday 2 June 2012

Beijing & Badaling

From now onwards I promise not to post any more blog entries out of sequence. This should bring us right up to date (although a review of Japanese food is still in draft).

So, first impressions of Beijing? It's big, hot, smelly, busy - everything a capital city should be. Except when I say big I really do mean big. If, in China everything is three times further than it seems, then in Beijing it's ten times further. In our first few days in the city we averaged around eight miles walking per day without even trying. That's a lot for my little legs.

Our hotel was in the hutongs north of the forbidden city. It's a great place to get a feel for the 'real' Beijing. Yes, there's plenty of touristy stuff but off the main streets you'll find the locals doing their thing. On the Sunday morning we stumbled upon a local wedding.

Close by was Beihai park, great for just chilling out.

We did visit Tiananmen Square (big and concretey) but never bothered with the forbidden city. On of the highlights for me was Wangfujing snack street. While you can find authentic Chinese food there, the main draw is the beastie-on-stick selection. Seahorse on a stick? Check. Starfish skewer? Coming right up sir. Live scorpion kebab, still wriggling? Mmm, spicy. Big, evil looking, black spider lolly? Er, no thanks. Candy floss is my limit.

We finished up our last couple of days visiting the birds nest:

The swimming cube:

And of course the Great Wall at Badaling:

It's quite steep. If I was a Mongol horde, I certainly wouldn't fancy storming it.

I'll leave you with a snap of sunset over the lake, just behind our hutong. Next stop, Pingyao!


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