I just returned from my first trip to Beijing. Where do I start?
Another exchange student and I flew in on sat night and caught a taxi to our hotel. As soon as we walked out from customs we were immediately asked if we were after a taxi. We said no. The guy tried while we followed the taxi signs a few times and even when we lined up at the taxi rank! We got to the hotel without too many dramas. Some other exchange students were already there and told us they paid $380 for their taxi and were shocked when we said we only paid $80 for the same ride! Apparently they got in a dodgy cab and the driver didn't turn on the meter :\
On Sunday we went on a tour to the Great Wall of China. On the way there we stopped at a gem stone factory and after the Great Wall we went for lunch, to a silk factory and a tea house. I brought a pillow from the silk factory. The Great Wall was awesome! I really enjoyed visiting there and my legs are sore from all the stairs! When we were told about the wall in China they forgot to mention those!!
On Monday we saw the Forbidden City, Tianeman Square and I explored the streets at night as it is one of the recommended things to do in Beijing. This city has such an old feeling to it. I guess it being almost winter gives some charm to it as well. It feels strange in 2 months time I will be heading back to Australia to summer!
Tuesday is the day I flew out from Beijing back to Hong Kong. It is when I really got to see the true face of Beijing the horror and the humanity. I caught the train to Lama temple a buddha one. I saw beggars on the train some hideously disfigured like a couple of people Im not sure if they were burnt their faces or if they were attacked with acid. I also saw a man coming along the train carriage on the ground on something motorised missing his legs. I guess if I'd stayed longer I would of visited the Hutong villages dotted around the city centre where I'm told true poverty is there. Humanity, I get the feeling people are untrustworthy in Beijing. But I met an old man on the train who seemed to find me the most fascinating person he had ever seen. I will never forget his kind eyes, his amusement at my gloves and his question about where I come from. I had someone tell me what he said! I went to the temple of Heaven as well. I didn't realise how big it was until I got completely lost but people where willing to help me find the exit. It felt like a really bad trip and even more so when I did find an exit from the park and was completely lost again. A cabbie pulled over on the side of a major road and gave me a ride to the other side of the city! The day before after the forbidden city we had trouble getting a cab to stop for us and had to walk to a major hotel to get one!
I wish I had taken the advise I received and stayed longer. I won't forget China, Beijing or the people. A fried said I was nuts coming here but you know what? I'm glad I did.