Leave a comment

The Great Wall + Observations After 10 Days in Beijing

We’ve since arrived in Bangkok and I’m pleased to have full access to my social media sites once again. One of the hostels we stayed at in Beijing had writing all over it which characterized its ambiance, and if you’re familiar with Tibet’s struggle you will notice the humor in someone writing ‘Free Social Media‘ in the stairwell.

Mid last week I seemed to develop a persistent allergy to something in Beijing which rendered me dopey, sleepy and full of snot (which I cheerfully spat onto the street along with all of the other Beijing-ers, much to Greg’s disgust). That came about the morning Greg and I left on a twelve hour day tour to the Jinshanling part of the Great Wall. Pleasant. Six of these hours were spent on a cramped tour bus with ‘air conditioning’. Whatever that means. We arrived to blue skies (a relief from hazy Beijing) and stunning mountains. The wall snaked along the ridges of these mountains and was absolutely stunning. It really is one of the most impressive sites I’ve ever seen.

© Gypset Jenn

© Gypset Jenn

The Jinshanling section is further from Beijing than many other sites and is minimally restored, making it quite tourist free. Perhaps only our tour bus and four others were there? Hiking this section is more aptly described as climbing. Seventy degree slopes and steep staircases demand a certain level of fitness. We had about four hours to explore the area, so with some other ambitious Aussies and Europeans we dashed out to the Flower temple and back in record time. I expected I would be sore the following day. I wasn’t, though I did not expect a heat rash on my arms (which still persists nearly a half week later, bleh). I hands-down recommend anyone visiting the Wall to avoid the overcrowded Badaling section and head for Jinshanling.

Last I need to remark on the highway driving we did to reach the Wall. Chinese freeways are absolutely mental. Really crazy. For some reason there were two or three lanes merging into another three and during the morning rush you can only imaging the logistical challenge this poses. Cars dart in and out of lanes. They pull out onto shoulders therefore creating an additional lane. No real sense of tailgating exists, nor does it in Bangkok, despite the speeds being driven.

The entire city of Beijing began to swell on Friday as people arrived to celebrate the days preceding the May 1st national worker’s holiday (essentially Communism Day). The city, which already is home to a whopping TWENTY MILLION people became almost unbelievably busier. Both Greg and I were happy to be ending our Beijing trip on April 30th as we were pretty overwhelmed by the sheer number of people everywhere. Due to the holiday we had to change hostels, luckily just across the street. I’ll take a moment now to review 365 Inn.

365 Inn is an incredibly central hostel easily accessible by Line 2 Metro station, serviced by Quinmen Station. Located near busy shopping streets it is ideally located for backpackers exploring the city. The bottom floor is occupied by a lively bar/restaurant named Helens. You’ll find a great menu including both Eastern and Western cuisine. Free WiFi, English speaking staff, free internet terminals, a DVD room, lots of hot water, toilet paper in the stalls and Western toilets. All this at a four-room dorm rate of $11-12 CAD;  you really can’t get much better. Easy to meet other travelers and the place is immaculate. Head across the street to the super market to buy a 3 CNY orange juice once you get sick of paying an exorbitant 18 CNY at Helens.

On our second to last day we met a lovely Israeli woman who literally couldn’t wait to get out of Beijing. We explored a lake district with her, sipped beer on a rooftop patio and shopped a bustling boutique street. As we have an 8 our layover on our way back I expect we’ll return to this shopping haven to pick up some cheap goods to bring home.We also established an open invitation to Tel Aviv which hopefully we may able to exploit one day. Thanks Dana!

Yesterday we flew from dusty old Beijing to Bangkok on an evening flight. During the flight I noticed some spectacular lighting storms in the clouds among us. It really was amazing to watch as I reasoned that certainly it can’t pose a threat to us? Air traffic wasn’t born yesterday… We had booked our airport hotel ahead of time and were picked up by the shuttle and whisked to The Cottage at BKK. Great little place that was quiet, comfortable, clean, cheap ($35 CAD) and chic for a one night stay.

This brings me to the present where I sit in a hostel in Bangkok, just off Khao San Road. It’s hot here and I’m sweating from every pore but the A/C cranked in the internet room isn’t so bad.

Once again I have to thank my sister for managing my blog while I was on social media lock down in China. Pictures should come in the next week or so. Because I don’t have my lap top with me it does make it a bit more difficult to manage the blog but hey, I’m no professional so bear with me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *