China. Where do I even begin? Our eight day adventure was packed with tours of ancient landmarks, hikes to breathtaking viewpoints, a flight to Hong Kong, and endless plates of delicious food. When I sat down to write this post I stared at the blank screen for far too long. My mind was overloaded with all of the memories we made, but I had to start somewhere. So let me walk you through the first part of our journey – Beijing.
It’s no secret mainland China is still a developing country. So while you are touring beautiful estates like the Summer Palace and Forbidden City you will have to make a few adjustments. One of which is the squatty potty. That’s right ladies! While in mainland China, even going to the bathroom is an adventure! Western toilets are uncommon, especially around tourist attractions. So be prepared to embrace the culture and work on your thigh muscles while squatting over a porcelain hole in the floor.
Another adjustment is website censorship. Want to post that cute photo to Facebook? Too bad! Popular websites like Facebook, Instagram, and even Google are not accessible in mainland China. If you need to look something up via your hotel wifi you can use Bing, but regarding your photos, you will have post updates after your trip.
Enough about the logistics, let’s talk about the sights! First up on our Beijing adventure was a tour of the Summer Palace. I could have spent hours walking through all of the long corridors, gazing out over the lake, and listening to the locals chanting in the garden. Every corner offered a new surprise and each was more beautiful than the last.
From the hand-painted windows to the sweet old man who painted a portrait of me with water, the Summer Palace was a trip highlight. If I were ever to visit China again, I would make sure to set enough time aside to take a boat ride across the lake. It is a beautiful setting for a relaxing afternoon and I’m sure the views from the lake are breathtaking!
After leaving the Summer Palace we made our way over to Teiniman Square. It was here that Ian and I realized being blonde and blue-eyed makes you a celebrity in Beijing! I can’t tell you how many times we got stopped to take pictures! It was a bit unsettling at first, but by the end of the day I was used to people filming us on their phones as we walked by and grabbing us for a quick photo.
Once we walked across the massive square we entered the gates to the Forbidden City. You could spend three days exploring this palace, but time wasn’t on our side. With sore feet, we stumbled past the highlights and ogled at the architecture under two hours.
On our last day in Beijing, we journeyed out to the Great Wall. Before our trip I hurt my knee, which made it difficult to walk, therefore I was nervous about making it up the Wall’s endless stairs. It was a bit of a struggle, but I made it up to the 11th checkpoint without too much pain! I had to ice my knee that night, but climbing up the stones of the Great Wall and looking out across the mountain range was well worth it!
The little time left in Beijing was spent attending a Kung Fu show, enjoying local restaurants, and walking around the Olympic village. I wished we could have spent more time in the city, but we had to move onto our next destination – Hong Kong! Stay tuned for a travel post later this week!