Thursday, 21 April 2016

Week 1 - Beijing (sorry that this one is long)

Well, what a journey and a great first week in China...thanks Beijing!

We awoke at 4.30am UK time on the 14th April for a quick flight to Amsterdam...I got seriously jealous when snorer the explorer slept the whole way, waking only for her free sandwich! Arrival left us with a 4 hour wait for our next flight, feeling seriously hangry we headed for pancakes in the departure lounge....they were shit.

So, whilst Kyle slept the hours away, I was on bag watch and Pringle eating duty! The journey to Beijing was pleasant, we were fed twice, and had pillows and blankets. However, 4 films in I soon realised I wasn't going to get the sleep I was so in need of.

After leaving the plane, we headed through customs where Kyle was swiftly taken into a small room. Safe to say my stomach was in my arse whilst I waited for him to return, I felt a bit of a tit when he told me all they'd done was shove a thermometer up his armpit!

Next, we had to work out the best way to get to our hostel, the saga international, from the airport. We thought we were clever heading to the taxi rank but no, £60 and 20 mins later our bad bitch of a taxi driver had ripped us off but taken the emergency vehicle lane to do so, and got us there in record time.

Our first meal was delicious, fish dumplings and noodles...all for less than £4! It's cheaper to eat than it is to drink, unless it's happy hour back at the hostel when 2 pints cost less than £1.50....get in!

We decided to tackle the subway on our second day and nailed it...we are a dream team! For 60p we took ourselves to the Temple of Heaven, a beautiful park filled with many temples, old men and women playing cards along the corridors, and ever growing groups of couples dancing (we would of joined in if we could do the samba). My absolute highlight though was the groups of people singing, they were spontaneous and amazing!

Food out this evening was a little more challenging, we had to rely on trusting the images which we had on the menu...bad move! Kyle ended up eating, what I swear was, a pigs willy! We passed street food vendors selling lungs and hearts from buckets, mixed meat and offal kebabs and pet stores with puppies and kittens in cages. 

Day 4 took us to the Forbidden City, Jingshan Park and Beihai Park where we walked 9.3 miles around the palaces, parks and temples. Kyle took this opportunity to test out the GoPro with some action shots of us climbing the steps to the viewing chambers...we saw some beautiful sights, and the Chinese still seem intent on staring at us like an attraction too! We even stumbled upon a Chinese market selling nuts, pastries and meat...it was amazing!

On the way home we headed back to the subway, we thought it was closing so dashed through the gates. Once underground, an announcement was made and a few people left the subway. We however, followed the crowd and waited, and waited and waited some more...why weren't we allowed down to the train? After 20 minutes we gave up and headed back out of the subway, where people were being refused entry and a bomb disposal unit was waiting, scary times! 

Follow this with a 1 hour trek back to the hostel, where we passed Gucci, Prada, tiffanys and Nespresso (are you kidding me?) we were exhausted! Standard, Kyle fell asleep within 10 minutes and woke himself up snoring!

After a lazy day of chilling on the rooftop and making plans for Japan, we went to the centre of Beijing and the food market. Kyle treat himself to dim sum and rou jia mo (Chinese hamburger) washed down by half of my noodles. The food choice was overwhelming and some a little strange, scorpions, spiders, snakes, starfish and sea horses all served up on sticks....I was alright for those actually! 

Now I don't know how good most of you are with chopsticks, but I am fucking horrendous! Day 6, we went to a "posh" restaurant. The waitress seeing I was struggling making my duck pancakes ever so kindly made one for me....then fed me, in front of everyone. But to be honest, I was well thankful because it was lush! After dinner though, whilst browsing the tanks of fish, I saw some headless turtles ready for cooking, that was actually gross! 

I grew up with a good mum (and a washing machine) but day 6 also had me hand washing my clothes! Well rinsing, Kyle washed, but still an achievement and no more stinky pits! All a step in my attempts to adjust to hostel life, and now I'm not even scared of the showers...thanks hostel films! 

Our final stop in Beijing was The Great Wall...and it was amazing! If you're thinking of visiting though I would recommend taking enough money to pay for the cable car up to the top. We didn't and walked up more than two thousand steps to reach the actual wall, that and the altitude made for lots of sweat and very little breath! But it was all worth it in the end, we walked for 5 miles in glorious sunshine and saw some beautiful sites, it was the perfect ending to the first week of our travels.  
Tomorrow we'll wake early and take the day train to Xi'an, neither of us can wait to see what more China has to offer.

But for now, good night, and sorry again about the length of this post!

Love Carrie xx