I had wanted to visit the ‘Far East’ for quite some time now. One day, having a casual conversation with my Mom, I discussed my desire to travel to both China and Japan on a solo trip. My Mom had often talked about wanting to visit China in particular so it we decided to go and make it a mother-daughter trip instead!
5 weeks after our conversation, we were on a flight from London to Beijing. We arrived at our hotel around midday and spent the afternoon relaxing and exploring the hotel. We ventured outside of the hotel in the evening and strolled a few streets down to find somewhere to eat. We were staying in a very touristy part of the city so we ended up eating a rather expensive pizza…it was at least a ‘Peking Duck’ pizza! Below are photos from our hotel. There was well-equipped gym (which we only used once) and an indoor swimming pool. The following day was at a very relaxed pace. As we knew we would be starting our tour the next day, we wanted to just spend a day doing things at our own pace. We had a lovely lie-in(much needed after waking up at different intervals during the night due to the jet-lag!) and a leisurely breakfast at the hotel. In the afternoon, we headed out to explore. We ended up finding a fresh juice bar close to our hotel with lovely outdoor seating. I was very impressed with the juice and the warm, friendly service. In the U.K, you can easily spend £4 on a blended fresh juice, and this was the equivalent to around £1! (photos below) We ended up coming to this juice bar a couple of times whilst in Beijing as I was so impressed!
The next morning, after enjoying the hotel breakfast, we met our tour group. There were 17 of us in total and it didn’t take long for us to start getting to know each other. Many of the travellers being either Canadian or American…very easy people to get along with! The tour was mostly couples/small families but also a few solo travellers.
So our first stop was Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Tiananmen Square is basically a city square located in the centre of Beijing. The Tiananmen (“Gate of Heavenly Peace”), is a gate in the wall of the Imperial City. I also learnt that it’s used as a government ‘meeting point’. Even though the square is open to the pubic, there’s high security to get through to the square. The square can sometimes be closed due to political reasons. We spent about half an hour at Tiananmen Square taking photos as well as our tour guide feeding us with interesting facts.
We then headed into the Forbidden City (a short but tiring walk as it was a swelteringly hot day!). The Forbidden City is a palace complex in central Beijing. The Forbidden City served as the home of emperors as well as being the political centre of Chinese government for many years. The Forbidden City was declared a ‘World Heritage Site’ about 30 years ago as well as being listed as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. The architecture was just unreal…some of the structures have remained untouched and some have been re-painted. So it was interesting to see the difference.
After Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, our tour guide took us to a well-known restaurant in Beijing for a delicious à la carte lunch. It was an absolute feast! Photo shown below.
In the afternoon we visited the Temple of Heaven (The Temple of Heaven is an imperial complex of religious buildings situated close to central Beijing) and after that we went to see a traditional Chinese Kung Fu show! I also learnt that the Temple of Heaven was first built in 1420! I guess that’s one of the main things I love about China, the long and interesting history.
We started off the next day at a genuine Jade factory. The staff gave us a small tour and talked about the Jade and the history. I couldn’t resist buying myself a bracelet. A beautiful piece of jewellery to add to my collection as well as a special memory. One of the other days we were in Beijing, we went to a pearl factory and I bought a lovely pair of freshwater pearl studs.
We then went to see The Great Wall…which doesn’t really need too much of an introduction so I’ll let the photos do most of the talking! We saw the ‘Badaling’ section. Badaling being the site of the most visited section of the Great Wall of China. We were given a glass of red (my favourite) to enjoy before we started climbing…very civilised!
Next, we went to see the ‘Ming Tombs’ or it’s also known as ‘Sacred Way’. I learned that the Ming tombs are basically a collection of mausoleums built by the emperors of the ‘Ming’ dynasty of China. The Sacred Way is a main road leading to all the tombs. The road is about 4 miles long!
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped off to see the Beijing National Stadium (also known as the Bird’s Nest) which was incredible to see, a very striking structure. For those of you who don’t know, it was the main stadium of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, hence why it’s now a big tourist attraction as well as being a venue for important matches.
You’ll also see in the photos below, the lady holding a giant sunflower. That was our tour guide, Candy. She was amazing! Candy constantly told us about the history of China as well as just general facts. She was a real ‘mother hen’. Always looking after us and going above and beyond to ensure we were having a good time. The photos really highlight her fun and bubbly personality!