40° 27′ 11.87″ N 116° 31′ 19.05″ E
Today was our last day in Beijing, China on our Trans-Mongolian Railway adventure. We’ve had a great time here, and it almost feels weird that we’re leaving….but we are so excited for the next destination!
Our last few days in Beijing have seen some big landmarks.We’ve gone to the Temple Of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, The Summer Palace and a park overlooking The Forbidden City.
They were all really beautiful places, but extremely crowded. There have absolutely been pros for being here in Beijing during the Chinese New Year, but there have also been some cons as well. The amount of people out and about is just astonishing. We knew that there would be many, many people here…but I guess we just weren’t completely ready for how many there were. For the last week, a lot of stores and restaurants have been closed, and schools have had days off too, so that means everybody and their brother was out at the largest landmarks in the city and we were right in the middle of it.
The culture is just different in China, just like every country has their own unique culture. We just needed some time to get used to it. Where we come from, crowds are not something we are used to. Even in our travels, given the 2.5 years we’ve been at it, relatively speaking we haven’t had to deal with many large crowds because we tend to try to stay away from staying in large cities for more than a few days. But that being said, we were able to see a little bit of each place without going crazy or completely breaking the bank.
When buying tickets at most of these places, they give you an option for a “through ticket” which gives you the entrance to the grounds, and pays for every ticket within the area as well.
Another option is buying just an entrance ticket which is much cheaper, and buying the individual tickets to the different temples and buildings inside when you get to them. If it was high season, it would make the most sense to buy a through ticket so you could get in everywhere, but since its not only low season but also a holiday, most things inside these areas were closed anyway. So we were able to enter these massive places, but not necessarily go into each of the temples and things inside. We were able to save a little money that way.. But we did enjoy what we could on those days.
Luckily for us, the last 3 days when we were walking around the city have been absolutely beautiful! Clear skies (well..as clear as they get here), relatively warm and really nice to spend the day walking around in. Unfortunately today, our last day here has been the worst smog I’ve seen. We spent most of the day inside because we just could not enjoy being outside whatsoever.
Last night, there was BOGO free deal on beer in our hostel bar so Robin and I went and took advantage of that. We immediately met a few other travellers in the hostel and quickly made friends. There was a group of 8 of us sitting around, from 7 different countries. We had a great time, and when it was time for the bar to close, there were 5 of us who decided to go out on the town. One of the guys with us was from India, but has lived in China for 12 years…so he knew his way around and could speak to everyone for us. Again, a lot of places were closed…but after a few cab rides we did end up finding a bar street that had a few bars still open.
We went in one with extremely loud music and got a few drinks and had a good time. It was just like any other bar we’ve been to, the music and dancing…but one difference was the smoking. Everyone was smoking inside and it just made it so hard to breathe in there! And the part that I find the hardest is that when you step outside because of how hard it is to breathe inside…its not necessarily much better outside either! So again, its took some getting used to for me. I can feel that after spending almost two weeks in two of the most polluted cities in the world, my throat is sore and I’m complete stuffed up, and we are coughing all the time. It really makes you think how the health is of all of these people who live here.
But anyway, like any good night out, we finished it off by getting some McDonald’s and walking home. It was a lot of fun, and really cool to be able to experience the nightlife here in Beijing with some new friends and some locals as well.
All in all, we had a grand time in Beijing. The Great Wall was absolutely amazing, and we’re already thinking of where to go in China next time we come.
We’ve met some great people who we will definitely stay in touch with, and we’ve learned so much about China as well. We are so happy that we’ve gone ahead and done this Trans-Mongolian Railway trip, its one trip that we will never forget. To all of the people we’ve met along the way…it was so nice to meet you and hear each of your individual stories.
Nothing beats meeting other travellers on the road and hearing what they have to say.
So now, we are packing our bags once again and are looking forward to the next place….Indonesia!! We are so excited to cross yet another country off the list; our fourth new country this year and its only February! We’ve done some sink laundry, picked up a few last-minute things, and are trying to come up with a plan as to how we are going to keep all of these winter clothes stowed away in our backpacks during our month in tropical Bali (and possibly the Gilis? Komodo? Who knows!)
S0, until we meet again…xie xie China!