We splurged and took the high speed train from Hangzhou to Beijing (max speed of 180mph!). You don’t really feel like you’re going that fast. Feels like any other train. But a faster one 🙂
My friend, Yi, greeted us at the train station and hosted us for our time in Beijing. We had a wonderful time in Beijing and I was happy to catch up with a friend. Although you meet many new friends on the road, it’s always nice to see a familiar face, talk about old times, and catch up on new ones.
Here we are enjoying our first dinner together. It was fantastic! As David mentioned in his Shanghai post, Chinese food is not very similar to what we have in the US. Although I do love American Chinese food too, real Chinese food is much more diverse and interesting. Fantastic flavors! I enjoyed most every meal we had in China.
We got to see quite a bit while we were in Beijing. The main touristy attractions we visited were the Forbidden City, the Olympic Green, and the Great Wall.
The Forbidden City, which was the home of Chinese emperors and their households in ages past, was … meh. After seeing so many beautiful temples in SE Asia, I was really underwhelmed by the Forbidden City. It was not very beautiful and it was so so crowded with tourists.
The Olympic Green was pretty cool to see. It’s where the 2008 Olympics were held. If you go, go at night when it’s all lit up. It’s free to walk through the area. Not a lot to do or see, but fun to pass by and take pictures.
And the Great Wall was AMAZING! So beautiful! So huge! We walked for maybe a mile of it’s length. It’s pretty steep in areas and also very windy. If you go in the winter, be prepared to be very cold! We went in spring and it was still quite chilly with all the wind.
We also learned a valuable new lesson while in China. You DO NOT take tuk tuks in China! Tuk tuks are the way to get around in SE Asia, but not in China. In China, at least in the big cities we were in (Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Beijing) you take public transportation (buses, metro) or you take a taxi. You DO NOT take tuk tuks in China! Coming from SE Asia, we did not know this lesson yet. And so we hopped in a tuk tuk.
They took us into an alley, not where we had requested, and they demanded we pay them 60 yuan instead of the 6 yuan we had agreed to. Although 60 yuan is only $10, so not a big financial loss, it was scary and it could have been a lot worse! So, we are lucky to have learned this lesson when we did so that we could avoid tuk tuks in the future when the stakes could have been higher.
So, after 3.5 months of travel, this was our first, semi-dangerous situation, and it all ended up fine. I’d say that’s pretty good for being a long time on the road! And (spoiler alert) we’ve had no more mishaps since then! (Note: we are still 2.5 months behind on the blog, but we’re catching up 🙂 )