We always planned to visit Beijing, but never had the opportunity. Finally, this Christmas, we had a Beijing trip (and before the 2008 Olympics too).
We arrived in Beijing at 4 PM with a heavy foggy sunset. Beijing has winter trees that look just like Christmas trees. The temperature was -3. I haven’t been to Northern China before so I had no idea what the cold weather felt. I quickly found out that it was really dry and cold and you could feel your hands becoming numb when not wearing gloves.
Our itinerary was: first day to Great Wall, second day to Summer Palace, third day to Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and maybe Heaven of Temple. We had very little time to visit these symbolic Beijing attractions.
Our original plan was to visit Mu Tian Yu instead of Ba Da Ling, but we decided that Ba Da Ling fitted better with our schedule. I was very surprised at how difficult the transport is in Beijing, even for a Chinese speaker. There are no directions or signs to show you how to get to popular destinations. From research on the internet we took the subway to Ji Shui Tang and then went to find the 919 bus. This simple task took a lot longer than it should as, upon leaving the station, there was no indication of where to find the bus. We headed in one direction chosen at random and came across seven 919 buses, each going in different directions. I wonder how foreigners will handle this!
Luckily for us we had a beautiful clear day with blue sky and sunshine. The Wall itself was full of tourists, as expected, but we chose to walk in the opposite direction to the crowds. The walk is very tough and steep, and it is really breath-taking to see how long the wall is and how magnificent it looks. Every step reminded me of old stories about the wall’s builders.
We walked one hour on the Great Wall before returning to Beijing to see the Yong He Gong Temple.