To every good trip around the world belongs a nice walk along the Great Wall of China. But China has just so much more to offer and my time on this one trip is quite limited so I decided against getting a visa and just do a transit in Beijing. As a German you can stay up to 72 hours in one of the big cities if you’re flying out again into a third country. This worked surprisingly well and I had no probelms at all with imigration. Arriving on Friday afternoon and leaving Sunday afternoon is a very limited time to see the city but it at least gives you a good first impression of the country and its people.
The first think I noticed are the people in China are very different than those in Hong Kong. They are usually louder (someone somewhere always seems to be shouting), more chaotic and are always just spitting everywhere, oh and the cars don’t give a fuck about pedestrians or traffic lights for that matter. I prefer Hong Kong.
After arrival I went to the Forbidden City. One of the must-see sights in Beijing and luckily very close to my Hotel. Although the City itself is very nice and safe the way to it is rather annoying. There are merchants everywhere trying to sell you some useless crap or scammers trying to sell you fake tickets. Even if they tell you it is sold out go to the entrance anyways as I my case it wasn’t sold out at all and tickets are always sold with your name on them and you can only enter with your passport. I don’t understand how tourists still fall for those tricks. But once you are inside it’s just amazing. It’s a huge areal with many gardens and tempels so be sure to go there with lots of time. I only had 2 hours till they closed and it wasn’t nearly enough.
On my only full day I went to the Great Wall. The Wall is really a sight worth seeing and everyone has to go there in his or her lifetime at least once. Although the tour I took I wouldn’t recommend, while it’s cheap seeing the Wall doesn’t really seem to be the main goal of it. You are supposed to have 1,5 hours at the Wall (already way to short) but they park far away and you need to take a cable car up and in the end you only have roughly an hour left up there.But you do spend half an hour in a jade-shop. Ok you also visit a Ming-Tomb but in my opinion those might as well can be skipped since there is nothing much to see anyways. Oh well it did get a nice impression on the Wall which was awesome and now I know I have to come back one day to really explore it on a longer hike.
In the evening I went to the Hutong in the old center of Beijing. They are old, nice buildings with a lot of restaurants and bars, some on rooftops, to have a nice evening.That’s where I was for the first time more convinced that Beijing is after all a nice city. Of course it was full and loud but in a good way and not so touristy, well at least there were no people to scam you when buying useless stuff.
This good feeling continued when I went into the Temple of Heavens the last morning. You should know it was autumn festival this weekend in China which meant people from all over the country would come to Beijing to see what the capital was to offer. So unsurprisingly the temple was packed (well actually what was surprising was that the Wall was rather empty) but not just with people trying to see the sights but a lot of fun people enjoying their Sunday activities. There were people singing, dancing and making music. Some were playing cards or some other games I never saw before. Some were painting Chinese verbs on the ground with water. Everyone was just enjoying themselves in the open together with the rest of the city. I wish I could have stayed here longer but unfortunately I had to get to the airport.
So yeah China is a really interesting country with many crazy people and the only complaint I have is that I had only so little time there. I need to return to China one day and really explore the country in at least a month-long trip.
OK the beginning of the post might sound a little bit harsher but that was because I was writing it at the airport after the Chinese security gave me some trouble with my Backpack and things I couldn’t check in although it was no problem at all in all previous flights. Well anyways, I’m off to Hanoi, Vietnam now, a country with hopefully less crazy laws and free internet.