Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Travel Diaries: Beijing Days 1 & 2

As you probably already know, last week I was in Beijing! My boyfriend, Dylan, and I planned the trip as a graduation present to ourselves, as we had both just graduated university. Beijing, China isn't the most popular grad trip, but we both absolutely loved every minute of our vacation.

Day 1: I only got about 2 hours of sleep, and Dylan stayed up all night since we were terrified of sleeping through our alarms. at 4:15 am(!!), our taxi picked us up and we headed to the airport. This was my first time flying out of YOW (Ottawa's airport), and I was surprised by how small this airport was! Our flight wasn't until 8:30 am, so we had plenty of time to check our bags and get through customs. We had to first fly to Detroit, which was only an hour long trip. We had a 3 hour layover in Detroit, and we got some McDonald's to hold us over. Next, we got on the plane to Beijing - a 13 hour flight! The longest flight that I've done previously was only 6 hours, so I was a bit worried about this insanely long travel time. However, the trip went by fairly quickly, and I watched a few movies to pass the time (The Book Thief, About Time, Dallas Buyers Club). We landed in Beijing, and bam! You could instantly feel the warmer weather! Dylan and I were wearing pants and t-shirts, and we couldn't wait to change into shorts (and shower - that was a long travel day). We picked up our luggage, which didn't take too long, and headed into the customs line. We didn't have anything to declare, so this process was fairly straight-forward. One thing you should know about Beijing is that you'll have to put your bags through security scanners all the time. Seriously, every time you take the subway, you have to go through security first. You get used to it pretty quickly, and it made me feel pretty safe. Once we cleared customs, we headed to find a taxi. We arrived at 5pm local time, which was right in the middle of rush hour. We paid a driver 300 RMB to get us to our hotel, which was about a 50 minute drive in the heavy traffic (we probably overpaid, but it was our first day there and didn't know any better!).

We were sooo excited to finally get to our hotel after over 24 hours of travel! We stayed in the Novotel Beijing Peace Hotel, which we quite enjoyed. The location was amazing, and the service was good. We showered, sent an email to Dylan's family letting them know we arrived safely... and then we fell asleep! The time difference is 12 hours, which is pretty crazy if you think about it. We woke up around 3:30 am the next morning, and started planning our day. I'm horrible with maps, directions, planning, etc. so I love travelling with Dylan because he's amazing at this sort of stuff! Everyday he would plan out where we would go, and how to get there.

Day 2: For our first day in Beijing, we went to Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City, which were just a 10 minute walk from our hotel. Tiananmen Square is literally just a huge square outside of Forbidden City. Forbidden City is quite large, and you have the option of buying an electronic guide, which we did. The guide has a map, and a GPS, so it can tell you about the different parts of Forbidden City as you approach the different sections.

Forbidden City

Forbidden City
Outside Forbidden City

Forbidden City

Forbidden City statue

Forbidden City statue

Inside Forbidden City
Inside Forbidden City

Statue inside Forbidden City

Star Rated Toilet inside Forbidden City
Beijing rates their public washrooms! I thought that this was pretty interesting

Forbidden City statue

Imperial Garden inside Forbidden City
At the interlocking trees in the Imperial Garden inside Forbidden City

Imperial Garden inside Forbidden City

We took our time walking through Forbidden City - you can zip through it if you wanted to, or you could spend a full day there. I absolutely loved the Imperial Garden inside Forbidden City, it was just beautiful! The weather was great on this day too - about 30 Celsius. It was such a nice change to be able to wear shorts! :) Everyone had warned us about the horrible smog that looms over China, but honestly, we didn't really notice it at all. The air quality wasn't as great as it is here in Ottawa - there seemed to be a lot of "fluff" in the air, which came from poplar and willow trees. The fluff would blow in the wind, and it would end up in your hair, eyes, mouth, nose, etc. Aside from that, we really didn't have any complaints about the air quality or weather. Maybe we just got lucky with our timing!

Forbidden City Elephant Statue

View from outside Forbidden City

After we were finished at Forbidden City, we went back to our hotel to freshen up, and then we went to Wangfujing, which is a busy street in the heart of the city. We stumbled upon this little music store, and the owners were so incredibly nice! They gave us an impromptu lesson on the Zheng - I absolutely love how this instrument sounds. The people of Beijing are so nice and willing to help you out, and we were both really touched by the generosity of these store owners. 

Learning how to Play a Zheng

So that concludes days 1 & 2! I definitely needed to split my trip recaps into multiple posts, as I have a lot to say and many pictures to share :) I hope you enjoyed my first of many travel diaries, as I loved sharing my memories with you. If you've been to Beijing before, I would love to hear about your trip. If you've never been to Beijing, please add it to your travel wishlist, it's such an amazing city! :)

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18 comments:

  1. i wish i had more time in the gardens at the forbidden city. we were in a bit of a hurry so only did a quick walk through :(
    Jenn
    A Beautiful Zen

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    1. Aw that's too bad! The gardens were beautiful :)

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  2. Sounds like an amazing trip!! Beautiful pictures :)

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  3. We love reading about your trip! Bring on the rest of the posts & pics!! Congrats on graduating too!!

    Jayme & Mendi @ Her Late Night Cravings

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    1. Thanks girls! I'll have the rest of the posts & pics up soon :)

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  4. Welcome home and great to read about your trip, can't wait for the next post.

    Victoria
    FlorenceandMary.com

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  5. "Beijing, China isn't the most popular grad trip" you can say that again ;)
    I spent two months in Asia a few years back, but yeah, the 12 hour time difference is huge! I don't even recall the washroom rating system (what the even??!?!?!?!?) but I hated the whole squat system, and probably developed a few kidney stones while I was over there.
    You're lucky you went in milder weather though, because once you're there in the summer, you're literally roasting in your clothes. I was there in like, 40+ degree weather.

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    1. Haha, I actually went the entire trip without using a public washroom (other than those in restaurants)! Ya, I think we picked a great time of year to go, I can't imagine the heat in August!

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  6. Ahh amazing! I would love to go to Beijing some day and visit Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall of China, so much history! Love all the pics, and can't wait for more travel posts :)

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    1. Thanks Natalie! You should definitely consider it for your next trip :)

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  7. I remember the fluff thingys, I think they are from willow trees or something like that
    That flight is torturous, I spending long times in confined areas lol

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    1. I didn't find the flight too bad - neck pillows, sleeping, and movies made it a lot more bearable lol

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  8. I am so jealous! This looks like such an awesome trip!!!

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    1. Aw thanks Megan! I had such an amazing time :)

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Thank you so much for your lovely comments, I love each and every one! I reply to all comments, but if you need a quicker response tweet me @BeyondBlush11 or email me (beyondblush@hotmail.com).

Laura