Upon arriving to Beijing, we suffered from extreme jet-lag. My plan was to sleep on the flight but the seats were very tight and not comfortable enough for this (@FINNAIR, TAKE NOTE). We just wandered around in town nearby the hotel and did some people watching – China was very different from anything we had ever experienced before so we just soaked it all in. We walked around the Wangfujing district and into various shops and malls.
I managed to find out that there was a small halal restaurant right around the corner from our hotel in the Wangfujing district. THE FOOD WAS THE BEST I ATE IN WHOLE OF CHINA!! It was just on Wangfujing W Street – if you get to that area and show people the halal sign, they will direct you. They don’t speak English but menu has pictures – and no word of a lie my mouth is watering thinking about their food. Just go there and you wont be disappointed!
We had booked a tour to the Great wall on the third day and thus went to the forbidden city on the second day only to find out that IT WAS CLOSED! For some odd reason, the Forbidden city is closed on Mondays. This was extremely disappointing. We walked around the gates of the city, where there is plenty to see around the lake and the buildings.
We then managed to get a taxi (they don’t have a lot of stands outside the forbidden city and they don’t like to take foreigners as it is difficult with communication, or if they do, they charge you 1000x the price!). We got a taxi by a taxi rank by the help of one of the soldiers there. We got to the park surrounding the infamous temple of heaven. This used to be an area especially reserved for worship by the emperors. There are quite a few temples and things to see in this park and I recommend it. Its very beautiful.
We then got a tuktuk to the mosque in a district not too far away from the park called Niujie mosque, prayed and wandered around there for a while and met with some of the worshippers there. We walked around the corner and ate in one of the small halal restaurant in the area because we were starving – their grilled meat was NOT nice and I just felt lucky coming out of that meal without being sick.
The next day we took the Great Wall Tour to Mutianyu – I purposely chose the one a bit further out because I wanted to ensure it wasn’t as crowded. We booked it with our hotel as it would’ve worked out more expensive hiring a driver for the day (as they’d have to wait for you there). Mutianyu part of the wall was actually amazing. Loved it! We went up with a lift to save time and enjoy the views, we then went down with a talboggan which was so much fun (for me anyway but not for my mum as she came down in the slowest pace ever!) But we only had an hour which was a bit annoying. The wall itself is much further away from the city and we got stuck in traffic in the morning. A ‘tea tasting’ was included in the tour. I mean it was nice to try some teas out and we ended up buying some nice mugs too, but would have liked to stay a little longer on the wall preferably.
When we came home, we went to a Pizza Hut close to Tianamen square and had some food. Most places close down at night in China, even the roads. You have soldiers everywhere and have to walk around for quite some time before being able to find a tunnel to take you to the other side. This is to ensure there isn’t any ‘rebellious or terrorist’ activity going on.
Before leaving I obviously went back to my favourite halal restaurant in Beijing and had another portion of their food. I was short on cash and they literally just handed me the food anyway. Also, we tried to tip them earlier and they were slightly insulted, this kept happening frequently. We were a bit careful with tipping as it seemed a bit frowned upon at times.
We then took a flight to the next location Xian! None of the domestic airlines offered vegetarian food and there were no options on booking to do so. The flights were mostly short but it was still annoying enough for me to remember.
Over and out!