Hello my dears!
So I know that this type of article might surprise you a little, and is quite different from my usual expat-Stockholm related topics. But I do believe it is also important so share some important memories of things and places I’ve been – ’cause you guys get to know me too! And who knows, maybe one day you’ll also travel to these places!
I want to try to share some memories about once a month, as I don’t want my blog to only focus on this. So let me know what you think about it and whether or not you want to read more about these memories! (Also keep scrolling for the pictures!)
The reason why I decided to write this special article is because exactly 3 years ago – on this exact same day, I was happily climbing the Great Wall of China under the snow! But more generally, I spent 6 months in Guangzhou, China as an exchange student, and now that I’m back and currently living abroad, I believe this experience partly shaped the person I am today. As all exchanges or expat experiences, not all days are great and there are a lot of ups and downs, but today, I am sharing with you the ups of spending a few days in Beijing, China!
I did take all these memories back from the previous blog I’ve had and kept during my time there. By writing this, I am not making anything up, but just sharing my experience. I went to Beijing with 2 friends, with whom I studied in Guangzhou, and we got to explore the city in November, with the first cold days and snow falls.
Beijing means ‘Northern Capital’, based mainly on the location of the city (makes sense right?!) – so it is quite a way when coming from the south of the country, and as this trip wasn’t planned long ahead, we went with the cheapest options, flying North and using the train to head back South, and this was quite good as we got to experience both transportations.
To make this long memory short, we stayed in a hostel – Beijing Sunrise Hostel – which had a great location, next to the center, the metro station and with local street food around. The personnel was super nice and helpful, so I can only recommend this place! As a side note which can be important, there is usually none or little heating in Chinese residences, so if you travel during winter time, just take an extra sweater, just in case!
The plan for these three days was the following:
As most first-timers in a city we wanted to see the highlights of Beijing. Namely Tiananmen Square, the surrounding streets, the Forbidden City and Jingshan Park. These attractions are located in close by areas so it is rather easy to walk from one to the other. The park also gives a great view on the Forbidden City, but make sure to go when it is not too foggy.
For lunch – guess whaaaat – we’ve had Peking Duck, and after 3 years, I still remember how it came, the look and the taste of it. It was absolutely amazing, and I wish I could have one tomorrow for lunch. The restaurant was in a street close by Tiananmen Square, and the whole meal – including veggies and some sort of pancakes was around 100¥ (13€) for 3 people. Yep, you read that correctly.
Day 1 continued to the gorgeous Heaven Temple (Tian Tan), which happens to be one of the UNESCO world heritage. I think the picture will talk for themselves, because after seeing them, it will be something you’ll want to see!
We finished off the day by a walk to the Olympic sport center, where we haven’t visited any buildings, but just walked on the streets and enjoyed some of the lighted buildings. For dinner we stopped by the insect market, which is a very interesting thing, that you should experience while being in Asia. You don’t have to stuff yourself with everything you see, but just try! It is a real bucket list experience, and also it is so different from everything else you’d ever try.
After such a busy first day, we wanted to do something different, and unique to China, so we drove all the way up-North the capital city to one to the official entrance to Great Wall of China. As you might know, you can only visit the Wall on some sections, that are renovated, so the one we’ve picked back then was Mutianyu’s (Mùtiányù/慕田峪), and I can really recommend it.
Something to know, is that it is an extremely popular and touristy site, so don’t be disappointed if you’re not alone there. Or do just like we did – come in November, when the snow start falling and enjoy the Wall all by yourself with all the surrounding views covered in white snow. Prepare good shoes and adapted outdoor gears – it will help – especially if you plan on walking up to the point 23, which is the last one of this section of the Wall, and where there is a tower and amazing view-point, when not all foggy!
I hope you’ll enjoy the below snowy pictures!
Days 3 & 4
I cannot remember exactly what we done on these specific days, so excuse me for that but that was 3 years ago!
Some of the highlights of these days were, the Summer Palace, which is quite a large and beautiful area, where you feel in deep nature but surrounded by some of the most beautiful buildings around you. The more time you’ll spend there the more you’ll enjoy it.
We got to visit Confucius’s and Lama’s Temples as they are located a few streets from one another (Side note: visit Confucius Temple first as Lama’s one is much more impressive). The Lama Temple is the biggest Tibetan Temple outside Tibet, so if there is one temple you should visit, it is this one.
The last thing on the list is the 798 Art District, which is mainly an open-air art gallery with all kind of street art and many smaller galleries to visit and explore. Not so much time is required to see the most of it. I believe the art changes with years or even seasons, so just spend a bit of time there, get yourself a coffee, and enjoy modern Chinese art, because it is worth it! Then, you may finish off your day with an amazingly large hotpot!
I know that this article is a little longer than what I usually write, but I am trying so find new article formats, and things to engage with my readers, so if there is something that you’d like to share, please feel free!