We arrived back in Korea on Wednesday night, exhausted from a whirlwind trip and gasping for friendly Korean faces.
I can describe our China trip in one word: overwhelming.
We arrived in Beijing, so happy that we had escaped all the Chuseok madness in Korea. This was a mistake. Our timing in China was A DISASTER!!! From the 30th Sept to the 3rd October, it was a national holiday. To celebrate the anniversary of the formation of the People’s Republic of China, the entire billion-strong nation gets 4 days off. Apparently 1 in 10 people in China rush to Beijing… meaning more than one hundred million people passed through the city in a few days. However crowded it was, we had a great adventure and accomplished all the things we set out to do. Here are some thoughts about our time in Beijing before I start reliving the trip in next week’s posts:
- I was quite scared to cross the street on our first day but became a pro by the time we left. You just keep walking. Traffic lights mean nothing. Cars will drive around you so don’t back down. Don’t stop! The minute you hesitate, you will be stuck.
- Like most countries with a lot of tourism, China has tourist information kiosks. In many of my travels, these gems have proved invaluable. However, a typical conversation at a Chinese one goes something like this:
Faraaz: Hi! Can you help us?
Tourist Information Lady: No.
Faraaz: Oh. Do you speak a little English?
Tourist Information Lady: NO.
Faraaz: So… no help?
Tourist Information Lady: NO!
- Most “Chinese Hamburgers” are actually made of donkey meat… Gross. No we did not try one.
- The moment we got on the underground subway, the mass of humanity was upon us. There was no order, just the survival of the fittest. People push you on and off and if you are lucky (NOT), there will be times where your feet don’t even touch the ground as you are pushed by Chinese.
- On that note, there is no order in queuing. Chinese people don’t understand this concept and will walk/push in front of you as if you don’t exist.
- The Beijing zoo (quite a depressing experience in itself) prides itself on its pandas, and amongst the crazed lonely sick animals there, the ADORABLE pandas are certainly the best taken care of. Sort of. By Chinese standards. (Until recently the Beijing Zoo would helpfully indicate next to each animal’s origin, diet and the tastiest part of the animal…Those signs were edited because of the outcry from the WWF and the zoo’s international visitors.)
- The Great Wall was obviously the highlight, and the best part of our trip to Beijing. Words can’t express how remarkable it was. The public holidays worked in our favour because the wall was pretty quiet when we went. The Great Wall offered us some of the most beautiful and breathtaking views I’ve ever seen. I still can’t believe we went.
- Amidst the chaotic city, I experienced most pleasant stroll at the Summer Palace. Complete with weeping willows, small temples, nice views, an island to visit, loads of picturesque bridges…ideal for a serene afternoon.
I think that is a good teaser without giving too much away. Here is a sneak peek at the pictures you can look forward to:
Side note: I was unable to access the blog due to China’s rigorous censorship laws.
Did I mention how happy I am to be back in Korea?!