11th Sept to 12th Sept 2014
We arrived in China after a 6 hour 20 minute flight and we went through immigration and picked up our rucksacks, then as we didn't research much, we didn't know the best way to get to the hotel. The taxi queue was long and we knew the train meant getting on and off at different stations which is confusing if all wrote in Chinese. So when a lady approached us asking if we wanted a private taxi we thought about it, we got her price down lower and then agreed. We paid the equivalent of £40 so although it might sound a lot it was a good half hour drive and it saved us any hassle. We got dropped at our door at the Novotel Peace Hotel which we had already booked online and paid for. The 3 nights stay cost £213 for both us, lovely posh hotel too!
We asked the concierge where was good to eat around the hotel, he asked us if we wanted Chinese food. Like duh! Went to a nice outside courtyard restaurant and had noodles, chilli and soy chicken, beef in black bean and spring rolls, and washed it down with some Chinese beers. And we only used chop sticks! Hard but had to be done.
After dinner we walked down our street, which appears to be a very good location. We have all the designer shops next to us and the end of the road turns into Wangfujing shopping street, with a mall and also a night food market selling everything including local delicacies on sticks- still squirming!
Last night we had organised with Jack the concierge for a car to pick us up at 0730 and take us around for the day, the driver Mr Wang would wait on us all day and at a fixed rate of ¥ 700 which is around £78. Which we thought was a good price. So this morning after a decent sleep on a bed (!) we had a really good breakfast in the hotel, Shannon had a fry up and I had pancakes and croissants.
We met Mr Wang and he took us in his taxi, an hour and half's drive to the 'Mutianya' part of the Great Wall. We left Mr Wang to relax whist we paid for our tickets and got a bus to the village then a cable car to the top of the mountain. Paid ¥312 around £34. And Wow it was so exciting! We went to the left first and climbed up and down big steps and small steps, steps at angles and tired ourselves out. We then went back to the middle and went right, this walk was a bit flatter with just inclines rather than steps all the way.
We walked for what seemed miles, taking many photos of course. As we had arrived in the morning there wasn't too many people around and also the temperature was cool and comfortable to walk in. There was mist that rolled past us giving it a majestic feeling. Also we had chosen the Mutianya part of the wall as we heard it generally had less tourists but still had the same experience.
After 3 hours of non stop walking we headed back down on the cable car and rejoined Mr Wang, and set off for the Summer Palace. Used as a temporary palace by the royal family during the Qing Dynasty to escape the summer heat, it was however burnt down by the Anglo-French and rebuilt in 1888. The Summer Palace is part of the World Heritage list since 1998.
It was a beautiful place in a beautiful setting, lovely buildings decorated in typical Chinese colours and designs, surrounded by water. We climbed to the top of the Tower of Buddhist Incense, which was an octagonal tower holding the statue of the thousand-handed Buddha which seemed very religious to the many hundred Chinese tourists that we were surrounded by. The Tower also had such lovely views over the Summer Palace and gardens, as well as seeing Beijing's high rises in the background.
Not wanting to go crazy and spoil ourselves, we left the Summer Palace and finished sightseeing for the day. We have so many wonderful things to see and do in the coming weeks we don't want to get complacent. It was such a great idea getting a taxi around for the day.
We are so happy that we have climbed the Great Wall and feel very privileged and happy we accomplished this, and this all in our first few days!!
Went back to the hotel and relaxed our tired feet, before going out to sample more Chinese food. We went to The Grandma's restaurant, which was different- our menu was inside a magazine, the waitress wanted our order right away so we quickly picked a few things. I had seen chicken feet as we walked through the restaurant and was sure not to order that, but when our chilli chicken arrived... It was minuscule pieces of chicken with bone attached! We ate some before realising, it was crunchy! It put me right off that dish, but the others were lovely, and the food and 2 beers only came to the equivalent of £11, so bone or not it's still a good price.