This weekend, 13 Qingdao interns went to Beijing for a two day mini break. We met at 4pm at the Qingdao train station and this is where our story starts…
The relatively fast train from Qingdao to Beijing takes around 5 hours and is really comfortable. In fact even better than most journeys I’ve had in the UK. Unlike trains in Europe, boarding a Chinese train has many similarities to an airport process; all passengers wait in a queue then board the train simultaneously. Arriving at around 11pm, we took at taxi to the Sanlitun Youth Hostel (an infamous place where many foreign tourists stay to explore the cultural sites and of course all the bars in close proximity).
Saturday morning was the day of the Great Wall of China; our morning was an early start but with a western breakfast included in the price, this gave us a kick start for the hiking. However, for me – no amount of hash browns can get me energized for any walking based activity. The coach drove us one hour and a half away from the city to the part of the wall called Mutianyu.
To reach the wall itself, we took a rather unsecured but exciting ski lift to the top.
And we were there! Located in Huairou County about 45 miles from Beijing, Mutianyu Great Wall has a long history and is part of the amazing rich culture of China. It really makes you realize how amazing humans are to create such a wonder so many years ago!
Some interns pushed themselves to new heights, climbing to many peaks of the wall. Some of the steps are really steep and in the summer heat – it is no mean feat to climb. At around 1.30pm we met up again and all descended down the wall; this time we went via toboggan slide which is truly amazing and unique to this part of the wall. The slide itself is around two kilometers and it goes pretty fast.
After a nice lunch and relaxing break, we were back on the coach to the hostel where some people (obviously me) took a siesta to recharge their batteries for the evening. When we all felt refreshed, we visited a traditional Beijing duck restaurant. In Beijing, the duck is very crispy and is eaten as a pancake with cucumber, and spring onions with a hoisin sauce – a perfect combination! The chef brings out the entire duck and professionally cuts it up in front of the customers.
The famous Beijing Duck or Peking duck as it’s called has been made from around the imperial era. It’s popular for the delicious crispy skin, which normally the duck is roasted in a closed or hung oven to create this effect.
After the delicious meal and a few drinks, we headed to the bar and club area where it is vibrant and very busy – full of foreigners, Chinese people and holiday makers. After visiting Shanghai in May, it is safe to say they are both amazing cities with lots to offer but are very different in atmosphere and what they have to offer.
Sunday morning began around 9am in the hotel and we went to Forbidden City. We tried to get some group photos but within ten seconds were bombarded with Chinese tourists wanting to be part of the photo. It is very common for Chinese people in tourist areas to want to take photos of western people.
Afterwards, we managed to get some lunch, do a bit more sightseeing and head back to the hostel for the train. Overall it was an amazing trip but since it was only two days, it would be amazing to go back there and visit other historical sites.
Qingdao is very close to Beijing and Shanghai – Apply here for an internship and to explore China
Last week I probably did my last trip during my time here in China. After being to Shanghai during Golden Week and visiting one of the holy mountains of China, Taishan, I definitely wanted to see the capital of China – Beijing.
Before the trip started my good friend Aubry came to Qingdao two days in advance and I had time to show him Qingdao (which has been my home for the past 5 months). I showed him around in our beautiful old part of the city, as well as our nice beaches.
On Thursday our trip to Beijing could finally start. We decided to stay in a hostel called Sanlitun Youth Hostel, which I can really recommend to you, if you want to stay in Beijing for a few days or even a while. It has cheap prices, a warm atmosphere, clean rooms and even offers some nice food – I can definitely recommend you the big Swiss breakfast.. yummy! Besides that, you have a young, open minded and very international audience that we liked to hang out with.
The next day we took a trip to the Great Wall which I have really been looking forward to. It was a great experience to walk up all the way on our own and enjoy the landscape. Also the wall itself was quite impressive. At the end of our walk on the wall we found a part which has not been restored – this is where you can have the nicest of all views!
The following day we started exploring the city a bit more. We visited some of the more famous sights of the city as the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. A personal tip here is to go to the Jing Shan Park near the Forbidden City. It is not very much crowded and is a really nice area. If you go up the little hill inside the park you have a great view above the Forbidden city and also the city in general.
After we explored much more of the city area, we decided to find ourselves a nice place to eat. We found out about Sanlitun village which is a big complex with lots of restaurants and shopping. The place you should not miss if you like some Mexican food is the Cantina Agave. Atmosphere and food there are top notch. Near Sanlitun village is also huge bar street where we had some drinks in various bars.
All in all it has been a nice experience and Beijing is a city that is worth a visit. We had a decent time and I guess we have really been lucky with the weather, as it was sunny all day and there was literally no smog at all. Beijing is a bit more Chinese than Shanghai in a way but is also just as lively. Nothing more to say than – bye bye, Beijing!