Possibly one of the most spontaneous trips on my journey thus far was a rogue jaunt to china before Sara was tohead back to the UK.
Our arrival into China however didn’t exactly fill us with hope or excitement for our stay!
We had organised flights that would allow us to get the 72 hour visa exemption for Beijing but on arrival at 5am into immigration were questioned for at least an hour followed by another hour of having our passports passed between airport staff with no explanation as to the problem. Eventually after having to actually argue our case for visit we were finally shipped through and into an extortionately priced mini van to take us to our hostel where despite our arguments apparently that was the best deal we could get! We were grumpy and tired and when we both unpacked to find shampoo and moisturiser explosions in our respective bags we decided we hated China and took a nap…
Thankfully these travel weary personas eventually left after a sleep as we strolled out of our hostel to realise Beijing was actually lovely. We were staying at the Beijing Downtown Backpackers Hostel on a lovely street or ‘hutong’ lined with lovely boutiques. We spent the afternoon perking ourselves up trying the gorgeous moon cakes which are reminiscent of fig rolls I guess and sampling Thai style rolled ice cream topped with fresh fruit and a less pleasant rather unusual cube of sweet potato ‘wheat cake’. As has become tradition, amongst visiting the lovely temples of the city I managed to hunt out some fabulous vintage stores and we wandered down to the picturesque lakeside for a noodle and steamed bun lunch!
That evening we decided to prepare ourselves for our plan to climb the Great Wall the following day with a proper dinner. So, in true Beijing speciality style we found a recommended restaurant to sample Peking duck. Despite being told it wold be an hour wait we powered through hunger pangs and eventually a huge portion of soft pancakes, juicy duck, tart sauce and fresh sliced cucumber, melon and onion arrived. Much oiler than the duck we were used to it was delicious but very filling indeed!
That evening, having avoided getting sick since my stint in Nepal, I was struck down badly but was fiercely determined to make it to the wall. I braved it full of Imodium and gentle sips of water onto our bus ride there! Dressed in our matching outfits, selfie sticks in hand, sara and I were embodying the perfect tourist look! We had decided to head to Mutianyu which was supposedly a less touristy section of the wall and two metros, a bus and a minivan with some helpful Spanish strangers later we were at the ticket office ready to go. I haven’t yet mentioned it but honestly the humidity in Beijing was unreal and having opted out of a shuttle bus to the base in an attempt to save money we found ourselves dripping with sweat in ways I had never imagined possible without even being close to seeing any hint of a wall! We then figured at this level of sweat we couldn’t get worse so decided to forgo the cable car and tackle the steps. Now on an empty stomach and already feeling sick, every step just took me back to trekking in Nepal and how hard some of the moments were but there was no way we were turning back despite sweat pooling in our shoes at this point!
Eventually with the slightly unpleasant soundtrack of “coca-cola, ice coffee, hot coffee, tea, ice tea, beer” being blared on an overhead megaphone we reached the top and stepped out and away from any other tourists onto the bloody Great Wall of china and god we were proud. Despite my reservations the recommendations were true to their word and there were hardly any tourists even at 11am making our stroll rather serene. Even with city smog blurring the background it was reall rather impressive and I’d say really made everything every worth it!
We returned eventually back to our hostel and in the spirit of our laziest days together Sara and I spent our last evening snuggled in a single bunk bed watching Harry Potter together before a very weepy goodbye when my midnight cab to the airport finally arrived!
(I have so many more photos but wifi is crap- currently in vietnam so promise I will update very soon as I’m 4 countries away from china right now!)