January 13, 2012

Beijing Day 5 (12 Jan 2012)

I’m home…Beijing was fun and better than expected.

Yesterday I went sightseeing before my red-eye flight. I didn’t know when I’ll get a chance to visit Beijing again so I booked a private car with driver and packed all the major attractions in one day.

My driver Mr Zhang picked me up after I checked out and left my bags with the bell desk. Our first stop was Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.

Of all luck, even though I had fully charged it the night before, my camera battery indicated it was running low. I had to save some battery for the Great Wall later in the afternoon so I didn’t take as much pictures as I would have liked at the Forbidden City.

Tiananmen is really just a big square, one of the biggest I’ve seen in a major city. It’s connected by underpass to the Forbidden City, and after purchasing my admission ticket, I was transported to a different era, where Qing and Ming emperors ruled.

To be honest, there wasn’t much to really see, just wall after wall and several throne rooms. I thought everything would be much larger and grander but the scale of the buildings left me a tad disappointed.

I was done very fast. Purchased some souvenirs and Angry Birds headgear from an old lady tout and after locating my driver at the exit, we made our way to the Birds Nest Olympic stadium. Before that we stopped by some traditional houses called hutongs, but the one he stopped at wasn’t very picturesque.

Next stop was the Summer Palace, it’s a massive estate that also served as a summer resort for Empress Dowager Qixi at one point and I spotted a lone ice-skater on the frozen Kunming Lake.

I wandered around, climbed lots of steps and saw lots of pavilions but didn’t make it to the top of the grand incense hall, my knees just wouldn’t cooperate.

Last stop was the Great Wall of China, it took 90 mins to reach the entrance at Mutianyu. Luckily it being winter, the place wasn’t crowded and I could take lots of pictures without anyone in the shots.

It was an uphill climb to get to the cable car station, I wasn’t going to be a hero and hike up to the wall. Once up, I only paced a stretch of about 50m, I didn’t want to exert myself in the cold plus it was harder to breath with the thinner air.

It’s amazing when you think about the construction of the wall in those times, and spanning over 6,000 km. Truly one of the wonders of the world.

On the way down, I went on a shopping binge using up the last of my yuan. The stall holders were pretty aggressive and prices were marked up high but I bargained all I could and got more things for the girls.

By the time we reached the hotel, it was before 6pm. I was too tired to go anywhere and just sat in the lobby and spaced out for a couple of hours, till Phil messaged to say he was available for dinner and on his way back to the hotel.

We had beers in the bar, and I ordered a Caesar salad with shrimp. Before I knew it, it was time to depart for the airport and here I am, home sweet home. Oh, bumped into my ex-boss Marilyn when we alighted from the plane, we didn’t know we were a row apart on board!

And now the girls are having fun with the different headgear I bought them!

No comments: