Entering Beijing is special. Especially after being for some weeks in Mongolia.
Climate and the number of people changed completely. When I came out of the trainstation, it was like being in a small bathroom, where someone had just a hot shower. More then 30 degrees and roughly 80% humidity. This mixed with millions of people at the same square was an interesting combination.
Nevertheless I made it to my hostel and started to explore the surroundings. The hostel was situated in one of the Hutongs, the old, original houses in Beijing. The street of the hostel was full of small shops, restaurants and people. Looked as if this was made for chinese tourists, but when I left the main street, it was quite, old people sitting around, talking, playing cards, so… just living their live.
Later I visited the Houhai Lakes. Parts of them were very quiet, but at other parts there were bars, one next door to the other. I liked this a lot, because in almost every bar, there was a live performance going on. Some of them not too bad. People around everywhere. Some of them selling food, drinks, icecream, some offering services like a massage, most of them just visitors.
The next day I met up with Christian, the guy from Regensburg, to visit the forbidden city. Was really great to see, what the former emperors built for themselves. After that we went up a hill, where we had a great overview of the skyline and the forbidden city. Impressive!
On our second day in China’s capital, it was time for the next must see: the great wall. We did a tour, organized from the hostel where I was staying in, because we have heard, they they would bring us to a place, where are hardly any tourists. After a three hour drive by coach we arrived at one of the visitor center’s at the wall. The weather was very hot and also humid, but no people. First comment of an english member of the group was: “who’s idea was that to do this in July around lunchtime?” The hike itself was great, but also very exhausting. Walking always the hills up and down, most of it were stairs, some of them very high (even for me 😉 ),… Good thing was, that a wind was blowing most of the time, which brought some refreshment. Three hours and 6km later we arrived finally down at the parking lot, where our coach back to Beijing was already waiting for us.
The day after I visited the 798 Art District, founded by some alternative german artists in the 60’ies, similar to Berlin’s Tacheles or Ljubljana’s Metalkova. I found there some great graffitis, visited some galleries, with contemporary art, it never got boring just looking around, because there was so much to see. In the afternoon I visited the Temple of Heaven and had a relaxed time in the park, just watching people. After a walk through the former foreign legion district, I met up with Christian and some other guys in front of the forbidden city to have a Beijing duck for dinner. We were walking to a district on the other end of Tienanmen square and after walking around for some minutes and asking at a hotel, we found a good place. First we were quite disappointed, because they brought only a small plate of meat, but then every ten minutes or so, the brought a new one, until two entire ducks – in pieces – were on our table. Was really great food for a reasonable price.
On my last full day in Beijing I visited the Lama Temple, which was supposed to be one of the most beautiful one’s. It’s the biggest tibetan buddhist temple in the city. I liked the temple very much and was thinking of visiting also the Confuzius Temple, which was just next to it. But then I decided to visit a food market and walk back to my hostel via the Houhai lakes and take the chance to get some good pics of people and the living in my district. In the evening I went together with Christian to the Wangfujing food street, where they sold fried seahorse, maggots, scorpions and some other animals, which we don’t eat normally in europe. I tried scorpion and the taste was not too much. The only thing I remember was, that it was crunchy.