Beijing / Pekín / 北京 - in the real China town
As it was our first time in China, we had a lot of expectation. Immigration in Beijing ended up being really smooth and it was also really easy to find the government regulated taxis that charged by meter. (Located on the ground floor , just follow the "Taxi" signs - basic rate of 5 Yuan - which equates to about 1 USD)
Beijing is a big city, with tall buildings and big highways.
We stayed in a hotel closed to the Temple of Heaven, which ended up being a nice area easy to walk around.
This temple is situated in the middle of a huge park. The most interesting part is not exactly the temple (which is from the 1500s), but all the activities that happen in the park.
While walking through the park, you can see many elderly people in different areas dancing, playing intruments, doing Tai Chi, exercising, etc! That really shows how people in China are really concerned about having healthy life styles so that explains why they might live longer!
We arranged a Tai Chi introduction class there with Master Lee and it was great!.
We learned about relaxation (which is the basis of it) and meditation. It's all about bringing your chi up (spirit) and letting the material being (muscles) relax, it is about balancing the Yin (soft) and the Yang (strong).
Of course. It takes years to actually master the technique but at least we learned some basic exercises and most importantly the idea of it.
What is also hard is the language as you can imagine, so we just downloaded a Chinese translator/dictionary app that became really handy, especially when ordering food. I recommend the Bravolol Chinese translator as it works off line, and for more complex questions Baidu translator, and Baidu maps for directions in China. (Baidu is the Google of China)
Here is our must do's in Beijing that included:
Visit to the Forbidden city
The garden inside is spectacular as they have grown the trees in different shapes
Visit the Great Wall - at Mutianyu
We didn't want to take a touristy tour, so we researched and went to the Great Wall by local bus. Here is what we did in case you want to do it yourself.
1. Go to the Dongzhimen metro station
2. Walk to the Dongzhimen bus station ( about 5 min)
3. Once there, look for a sign that says 916 快车 bus (that mean 916 express) it costed us about ¥9 yuan (over 1 USD dollar)
4. Get off a the last station (tip: we never pay attention to people telling us to get off before, they usually just want to scam you to by a tour or pay their transportation)
5. From there you can get a short taxi ride for about 40 to 50 yuan (5 to 6 dollars - we ended sharing it with another couple traveling for few months like us :)
6. That's it! You get to the site!
We went up by ski lift which was great
Then walked and climbed all over the Great Wall
And then went down by toboggan, which was pretty fun.
Another day we decided to go to the Panjiayuan Flea Market, where we found the best stone statues! I wanted to buy a big lion for our future house, however we figured we need to find a house first! ;)
Another recommended place to go is the this Street with food. It was pretty cool and completely lit up with restaurants and bars. Nothing like what we were expecting it to be.
When I asked at our hotel front desk about this street, they said, it's not for tourist, they sell all kinds of Chinese food, like frogs, snake, etc. I was like- exactly! Now I want to see it!
You can even buy beer for a dollar at a vending machine
And of course we had a great meal there too!
Random history -We popped our head into a place that looked like an arcade. There was just a group of guys playing some games. Apparently it was private and didn't sell tokens, however one of the guys came to us and gave us a hand full of tokens for free to play. We always find good people!