Recap: Beijing, China

While we were traveling in Beijing, we always came back to the hotel completely exhausted. So I thought I should recap on everything that happened. AND I raided my sister-in-law’s pictures–y’all should see some of the pics she took. I love the panorama’s that her camera takes. Note to Self: Next camera needs to have a panorama feature.

My roommate recommended this company: Beijing Downtown Backpackers Accommodation. We didn’t stay there BUT I can tell you that I think it would be an excellent and affordable accommodation, they have these nifty cards that can help you get around the city with all of the main attractions (and with the aid of taxi’s), they also have different attractions that you can sign up for. For example, we were looking to go to a Beijing Opera House and see a performance but we had a little trouble finding the right one — they had a list on their wall with different events like the Opera, Acrobatics Shows, and Kung Fu Performances. And in addition to these things they offer a unique experience at the Great Wall. We all wanted to go to a part of the Great Wall that had remained relatively untouched. “Jinshanling Great Wall and Simatai Great Wall are the two most ruined, precipitous, original, preserved sections of the Great Wall in Beijing. The hike from the west Jinshanling to the east Simatai is the most challenging Great Wall hike in Beijing. The 6-km hike takes about 3.5 hours passing 22 watch towers…”

This was my patch-work job of a panorama picture… it just doesn’t have the same effect. Come on Photoshop!

Ah yes, the Summer Palace. If you have to decide between the Forbidden City or the Summer Palace —  I recommend the Summer Palace. A. It’s beautiful. B. There are still A LOT of people (b/c it’s China) but they are much more spread out and C. You won’t be looking at the same thing everywhere you look. I could definitely stay at this Summer Palace. Bring your walking shoes. It covers around 3 square kilometers and most of that is water that you are walking around. There are also a lot of amazing building/temples on top of mountains, so get ready to climb as well. Beware: It’s still very touristy and you’ll probably get ripped off one way or another. But if you are looking for souvenirs, you’ll definitely be able to find them here. But something else that is cool is that you can find more locals, water calligraphers, and other cool stuff. This place is huge, outside of the city, and you could easily spend a week here and still not have seen everything.

Check out this Youtube video I took while at the Summer Palace!

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This is the Dong Hua Men Night Market. Now they call it a night market but it closes around 9-9:30. I like a night market to be open till about 4 am. Not that I would be awake to go to it… but all the people still at drinkin’ could. If you are in Beijing, this place is a must see. They have some of the strangest things that you would have never ever though edible. But I think their theory must be similar to certain parts of The South — anything can be deep fried. This image is relatively tame — but they have everything from fruits and veggies, sugar drinks, seafood, meat, organs, and bugs. GROSS. But oh-so interesting. We saw sheep penis, sheep testicles, and sheep kidney–all on a stick. The place reeks of an organ smell. I don’t know how else to describe it. It was so entertaining.

YUMMY.

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Today I am thankful for: my free Krispey Kreme doughnut (just for walking in) and a free Coke under a Coke promotional tent. I guess I’ve had enough sugar to last me all week long. RUN TOMORROW.

Note: Pictures other than the night market (unless otherwise specified) were taken by my sister in law and have been given an identification marker when you scroll over the photograph. Her pictures are marked under “JECC” in the header. 

Beijing: National Center for the Performing Arts

Today was our last day in Beijing. I can only say that I’m a little relieved. Why, you ask? Well for several reasons. Beijing is a bargaining city. We had to bargain for a taxi, ice cream, art, food, bathrooms(j/k) … etc. It gets tiring. And worst of all — you don’t know if you’re getting screwed over or not. The first time we went to get a taxi he started off at something around 400 RMB!! I found another guy and got him down to 100 RMB. Actual cost = 75ish RMB. It’s rediculous how much people will try and take advantage of foreigners.  So enough with it — I’m happy to be back in Shanghai.  PLUS — I’m a modernist. I sick of the old stuff. You can have your Forbidden City. Out with the OLD and on with the NEW!! This, my friends, is the National Center for the Performing Arts. aka It’s an opera house. The coolest thing about it is that there is not a direct entrance to the building. The whole thing is surrounded by water. I don’t even want to imagine how they figured out their code safety regulations (if they did)…  It’s by French architect Paul Andreu and the building is known to the locals as “The Egg”. If you do decide to go there, it would probably be much cooler at night or at sunset when it’s all lit up inside. But it was still decently cool in the daytime with all the smog too.

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In other news… I watched two goofballs take Blackmail pictures of themselves. I told them that they had to make this their Christmas card!

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Today I am thankful for: having been on a plane. On our plane ride tonight we had a bunch of first time flyers. They were cheering like it was a roller coaster. They cheered at take off, gave ewwwes and ahhhhh during turbulence and gasped at landing. Good Lord, people! Get out more!

The Great Wall

Today we went to The Great Wall.  There is an old saying here, “Not been on the Great Wall, not a great man”. We came on the perfect day. It was absolutely gorgeous. I was so happy to be out there. We hiked to 22 towers and I think could have done 22 more. It was incredible.

We could not have asked for a better day. While it was hot… there was also a really nice breeze.

Today, my toes were at The Great Wall. And they were very happy about that!

Now, I’m gonna leave y’all with one thing — ROLL TIDE. Is it football season, yet???

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Today I am thankful for: my grandfather’s 90th birthday. Grampy is 90 today. I wish I could be there to celebrate with him. I am also thankful for my wonderful friends — this time last year, I lost one. AND I am thankful for my certain someone. Happy you-know-what day. I love you, babe. You rock my world.

Beijing: Yesterday + Today

Yesterday we saw so many cool things. And today we had another full day. I’ll have a longer update on each event later… for now… I’ll just update you in pictures. I hope that’s okay. Tomorrow is another big day. No fireworks for us, I don’t think — however, there will be a really great wall. Above is the CCTV building by architects Rem Koolhaus and Ole Schreeren from OMA.

We also got to see the Olympic Birds Nest by architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron — one of my favorites!

Earlier in the morning we went to the Temple of Heaven and Earth and we walked around the extensive parks and heard a bunch of old people singing. I’m learning that old people sing a lot in these parts. It’s really kinda nice. I took some cute pictures of the kids. Aren’t they precious?

And then later that night we went to the Night Food Market. My Pop’s would have been all over these oysters. And all of the other strange things they had there.

We played it safe and stuck with the fruit. They put sugar all over my watermelon. It was still delicious. We were happy. AND the night market made all of hard work of walking around the city worth it… it reenergized us.

And then today, we had a girls day. We went to the Summer Palace and had a lovely time. That place is so huge!!! I wish I could say we covered all of it but I think we would be lucky to say that we covered a 1/3 of it. Oh well. Life is Good.

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Today I am thankful for: my bargaining skills. I’m getting really good at it. Helen (my Popo) comes out and does her thing. Tonight we were looking for socks. Found some — and the lady told us 3 for 298 yuan. We told her that she was freakin’ crazy and said that we only needed one. She goes down to 100 yuan. Say what? I don’t think so. We walk away (the best tactic of them all) and then they come chasing after us. 50! 50! No way — I say… ok, ok 20!!!! 20!!! We all turned around and said 20??? Hmmmm…. Let’s go for 5.

Beijing: The Route

We are exhausted. We went all over the city today. Pictures will have to come later. This is what all we did…

  • We left the hotel and went to see if we could get a peak at Chairmen Mao’s body — the line was gargantuan… so we said NO.
  • Then we hopped onto the subway and went to the oh-so-lovely Temple of Heaven
  • Afterwards we went to a cheeky Natural History Museum where the coolest things were real bodies that had been dissected. I got to watch my big brother dominate a bone game where you had to put all of the bones in the right place on the body. He rocked it in 10 seconds. Video to come.
  • We went in search of the Chinese Museum of Ancient Architecture… got a little turned around only to find out that it was closed due to renovations.
  • Then we got a quick lunch at Mickey D’s (shhhhh don’t tell)
  • After lunch we hopped back onto the subway and went to see the CCTV building. Note: There’s something under construction. You just can’t see too much. But I still got some good pics.
  • After that we were still in architecture mode and went to the Olympic City to check out the Birdsnest stadium and the Aquatic arena… super cool. Very far away, though.
  • AND THEN… after that, we went to this cool bar called Q Bar! and got our drinky-drink on. They were so yummy. AND we got a little snack: flat bread with delicious dipping sauce — one of the dipping sauces was a wasabi cheesey thing (YUMMM) and some hummus.
  • After that we went in search of the Night Street Food Market… and we found it. It probably made our day. We were so completely exhausted that it recharged us because there were so many exciting things to eat. Have you ever seen sheep testicles on a stick? No worries, I’ll provide you with pictures.
  • And just now we have made it back to the hotel. We’ve got one man down but the ladies are still holdin’ out. Sad day when you can’t get blister bandaids.
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Today I am thankful for: seeing the street food market. I wish my whole family was there. I really missed my dad. That was his kind of place. Daddy (and Momma) we miss you. Everything reminds us of you. We love you both so much.
Pictures to come later… we are all so tired and have an early start tomorrow morning…

Beijing: The Forbidden City + Tiananmen Square

Oh, scary dragon! Today we went to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Ok, I have a few things to say about this… Do you like crowds, do you like people with loud speakers, do you like people coming up to you asking you if you would like a tour??? If you said yes to any of the above, than this place is for you. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that I’ve developed some agorphobic/demophobic tendencies. I hate crowds. They make me incredibly anxious. I know that I have become more reclusive because of this too — and how I am making it in China is a small miracle. So instead of enjoying the Forbidden Palace, I got anxious and got the hell out. But not without a few pics. Being a detail oriented person… that’s what I focused on. The patterns. They were so beautiful. Please see below.

The color palette here was so interesting and so beautiful. I love the brightness and even the contrast to some of the other colors around them.

I love these colors. There is something almost romantic about them. Note to self: must have a room in my house with all of these beautiful colors. Ohh, a bathroom!

Haha. I don’t like serious pictures. Everyone who knows me, knows this little fact about me. They aren’t the ones you look at 20 years from now. Hopefully, we’ll both have this framed and somewhere in our house and the kids can ask us about that one time in China…

Aren’t they cute? They both have their super touristy t-shirts on to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party in China. WoopTeeDoo. Boo Communism. I have more to say on this but I’ll wait until I’m back to The States. I would hate for the Chinese Government to shut down my blog… so, Dear Chinese Government, Please don’t shut down my blog. Sincerely, AAC.

What can I say… I work out… sometimes. This lasted for about 2 seconds, and then I dropped him. Dear former cheerleaders who read this — I still gots it!

My favorite picture from the day. I took this on our walk back to the hotel and after a Bailey’s Irish Cream milkshake. YUM.

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Today I am thankful for: a really yummy lunch/dinner. We got some of the most basic food and it was absolutely delicious. I guess that’s a good thing to mention — start with the basics and then work your way up. If they can’t do fried rice right… then leave. haha. They did it right. 🙂