It was meant to be a girl’s weekend!! But when, Miss G my 8 yo daughter, discovered we were planning a trip to China that would be her and her mum there was an instant and catastrophic melt down. There was no protest from my wife, about me going not her, so it was me who was off on the girls weekend to Beijing.
Since it was China, and time was short and I had not done the requisite research I organized a fully inclusive tour that included transfers from and to the airport and everything in between, call me lazy.
Overview of Pre booked services with china highlights (flights organised by Tubbytraveller tours 🙂
|Place & Transport||Activities & Meals||Accommodation|
|Day 1||Fly Seoul – Beijing CZ316, One-way Private Transfer Between Beijing Airport and Your Hotel (Driver only)||Sunword Hotel|
|Day 2||Pick up and drop off at Hotel||Forbidden City, Tian’anmen Square and Mutianyu Great Wall, Lunch||Sunword Hotel|
|Day 3||Pick up and drop off at Hotel||Summer Palace, Bird’s Nest and Water Cube, Jingshan Park, Temple of Heaven, Lunch at Dawanju Restaurant||Sunword Hotel|
|Day 4||One-way Private Transfer Between Beijing Airport and Your Hotel (Driver only) Fly Beijing – Seoul CZ315||Lama Temple, the Confucius Temple, Take a Rickshaw and Walking Trip with a Home-Visit in the Hutongs, Lunch||Home|
Cost for tour (excluding flights) US$890 (for 2 people)
We were in Beijing from the 1st to 4th of October which coincided with the “Golden week”, this meant that, even for Beijing’s standards, it was busy, or for a normal human – Chaos. There were people jams at all the major tourist attractions, a ¾ hour bus ride took 2 hours and so on, luckily we live in Seoul and can handle this sort of chaos with ease, I felt sorry for the Dutch couple that were with us, they found the push and jostle very distressing.
We took the 5:00am bus to Incheon Airport checked in and flew to Beijing with the minimal of fuss. We were collected from the Beijing Airport and driven to our hotel, the transfer cost $50us and I felt was money very well spent, it relieves all the stress in navigating in an unfamiliar country. We checked in at about 11:00 am, which was nice of the hotel. Our hotel was a block from Wangfujing Avenue, the famous tourist shopping street. So once were checked in we walked down to Wangfujing Avenue for a bite of lunch and a mosey round the shops. After some nice dumplings for lunch we found some presents for my family and Miss G found herself a nice dress, shoes and a necklace, I am a sucker, my no buying presents lasted less than five minutes under pressure from my daughter. After shopping we went back to the hotel and organised ourselves a massage, then dinner and bed.
The Forbidden City
The next day we went to Tian’anmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, for me the highlight of the day was the great wall, for Miss G it was the ride down from the Great wall.
Tian’anmen Square and the Forbidden City were interesting for historical reasons, (there was no trace of tanks or protesters) and also for the sheer number of tourists. We were just a small group in a sea of people, except Miss G is blond and blue-eyed girl in a sea of Chinese people, every couple of steps we (she) was stopped for photos, living in Korea we are used to this, but it was extreme and got wearing. After a while our guide got annoyed with the constant interruptions, so said we should ask them to pay for the photos with Miss G, of course I can’t speak Chinese, which I politely pointed out, so he started saying to the pushy mothers “you must pay for photos” or something like that. It seemed to work….. but rather embarrassingly a couple of the mothers actually offered money.
Crowds lining up outside the Forbidden City, Photo Op with Miss G, and Tian’anmen Square
The part of the great all we visited was the Mutianyu section, it is in a very mountainous region, we were driven to a parking lot that was a short but steep walk to some shops and a ticket office. From there it was a fiveish minute ride in a somewhat ancient cable car to the great wall itself.
Going up and Coming down
The great wall is fascinating, like Stonehenge at the first viewing it is somewhat underwhelming, it is just an old brick wall about 7m wide and maybe 10m high, with lots of steps, lots and lots of steps. We walked up then down some 950 steps in the small section that we walked, we covered a section of the that may have been 1.5 km and it was hard going, (for me, Miss G thought it was a race and complained that we were all too slow), it is only when I had been on the wall for a while, that the enormity of the wall and what a feet it must have been to build it became apparent. We walked 1.5 km out of 12,000km!!!!!!
The trip down was on a thing somewhat like a bobsled/skeleton, great fun but Miss G was not happy that we didn’t go faster, but without smashing into the people in front if us, faster was impossible.
The temple of heaven, like most things we visited was impressive due to its sheer size and grandure. Roof tiles and dragons are very important in china, apparently…. Gold roof tiles represent royalty and are for the emperor, blue tiles represent heaven/sky and are for the gods (temples) and Green tiles represent the earth and are for the people.
The visit to the summer palace was interesting, for me it was more about how the massive crowd moved and interacted, the place was interesting enough but the kilometer long lines of tourists were incredible, after the initial push and shove they all moved in a fast and orderly manner.
The summer palace, murals and a stone boat
Final day there was just Miss G and myself on the tour, this was great as we could spend as long as we wanted on the interesting parts and skip what we found boring, The first stop of the day was the Temple of the Dali Lama and the neighbouring Confucius Temple and school. The Temple of the Dali Lama was very interesting and Miss G stopped at each shrine; burnt three incense sticks, said a prayer and made a wish.
This was followed by a visit to Confucius’s temple and school, it was at this school that all the Emperors children, close relatives and outstanding scholars were educated, in some ways the classrooms have not changed much, just the discipline was a bit more extreme back then.
No Blog Post would be complete without some reference to and photos of food. I have saved my food comments for the last day. When I was browsing in the 7 / 11 across from our hotel I saw that a bottle of Yellow tail wine was 98 CNY the same place a bottle of Jose Cuervo tequila was 95CNY, WTF how can a cheep bottel of Aussie plonk be the same price as a bottel Mexican tequila!!!
During the trip Miss G had been a bit reserved in what she ate but at lunch all of a sudden she wanted to get adventurous.
Bullfrog Szechuan Style and Pork
So we ordered a Pork dish and Bullfrog Szechuan style, the pork was great but the bullfrog was probably a step too far, the Szechuan seasoning was super hot and made my lips tingle and the bullfrog could be best described as a bit like chicken crossed with slithereen. I did wonder if a bottle of tequila may have helped the situation. I should have remembered more details of the pork dish but the Bullfrog Szechuan style completely blew it out of my brains. Miss G was not impresses with Frog.
After lunch we visited a traditional house, took a short rickshaw ride, bought some trinkets and returned to the airport. Security, Check-in, Security, Immigration, Security, Customs and Security were easy and no hassle, just there lots of stops, many inspections and much stamping of forms. The Airport is showing its age but the lounge was comfortable and the helpful woman at the front desk posted Miss G’s postcards. We flew on China eastern, it was more than adequate for a 2 hour flight, the plane was a long way from new but it was clean and everything functioned.
The China highlights tour was well organised, there were three things that I was happy with that made the trip more enjoyable, 1.) there were no stops at special shops, 2.) we had the same guide each day and 3.) there was good guidance given as to the tips that should be given.
The third point may not sound important but being mainly Australian I neither believe in tips nor have any inbuilt radar as to how much is an appropriate tip. Over all the tour was good, not brilliant but in no way bad, the guide could have been a little more enthusiastic.
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