02.04.2008 - 09.04.2008 18 °C
After a bumpy flight from Kathmandu via Hong Kong we were glad to finally arrive in Beijing! Beijing airport is like a huge space centre! Most of the signs were in Chinese and English so we eventually found where to get the shuttle bus into the city. Beijing is a huge city and very modern. We were really lucky with our hostel. It was like a 5 * hotel and we had housekeeping everyday! It was way out of our league for 8euro each a night but we decided to live it up and stay somewhere decent with hot water and clean fluffy towels!
We stayed in Beijing for a week so we really got to know all the staff at the hostel and had great craic with them. We got to learn some Chinese and they got to improve their English. We got to know a few travellers too including a crazy Russian guy that entertained us with Russian war ballads every night. One night he was strumming so hard on the guitar stings that his fingers bled! He wasnt too bothered and kept playing!
The sights in Beijing are very spread out and its a huge city so once we got our heads around the subway we were sorted. The girls in the hostel were great and wrote all we needed to know in Chinese including " Wo chi su - I am a vegetarian"! This has been our most used phrase so far in China. The whole meat thing is freaking me out! They would eat anykind of meat; monkey, dog, snake, smoked rat the works. I have tried a small bit of chicken I just hope to god it wasnt rat! Im sticking to the veg chowmein from now on to be on the safe side...
In Beijing we headed off on our own steam around The Forbidden city, Tian'namen square and Summer Palace. We have seen a few other foreign tourists mainly American but not that many. The main tourists are the Chinese. Its funny to watch them. They are crazy people. The tour guide leads them around with a flag and talks through a Britney Spears style megaphone. They all have matching bags and baseball caps. I wonder will Europe be ready for the Chinese tourists when they arrive?!Can you imagine 1.3 billion of them on the Rock of Cashel?!
We made it to the Olympic site too for a look around and managed to get some training in! Its still under construction so I hope its ready for us when we come back in August! It was cool to see the cube and the birds nest.
For some reason Ben is now obsessed with walking and insisted on us doing a 4hr trek on the Great Wall. We organised a day trip with our hostel and headed off with a few more travellers for the day. So it was an was an early start at 6.30 and a 3hr drive outside Beijing. It was tough going and no walk in the park but nothing compared to the Annapurnas in Nepal (thanks Phil your still dead!) There were some very steep inclines but the views were fantastic and well worth the effort!
We found an Irish bar in Beijing in the Sanlitun area where we stayed but there were no Paddys to be found in Paddy O' Sheas only a few English and loads of Chinese. Ben had a mingin pint of Guiness and I settled for a local Tsing Tso China s finest suds!
After a good week in Beijing we got an overnight train to Xian!