Friday, November 22, 2013

Jetsetting to Beijing

If you read my last post, my friend from Shenzhen came up to Jinan--she had vacation from work and wanted to see more of China. Last Friday we left for Beijing (about 1.5 hours on the fast train). Once again we didn't get our train tickets early enough in advance so we had to get a 1st class ticket (which was only about $20 more than a business class seat so it wasn't too bad) 

We got into Beijing pretty late and found our hostel by metro (the train station there links right to the metro which is really convenient. I really miss the metro--in Jinan i walk or take buses everywhere)

Our hostel was FULL of foreigners just hanging out in the main room--it was nice to be surrounded by so many people who could speak English again. A large group of them were from Europe

On a completely irrelevant note last weekend I noticed for the first time how unattractive I find European guys (English guys are an exception--cant resist a British accent) I also think that since I've moved to a different city in China where Chinese guys are taller and more manly looking I find Chinese guys a lot more attractive than before. (Or maybe I've just been in China too long ;)

We decided to do a tour to the Great Wall (I absolutely hate tour groups but was too lazy to figure out how to get there on our own) so we got breakfast with our tour group then boarded a bus for a 2 hour ride out to the wall. 

We went to the Mutianyu section, which was the same one I went to last April

This time we took the chairlift up--(last time we took the stairs up and it was HELL)

It was GORGEOUS--perfect weather! 

We decided to go see the unrestored part of the wall--the stairs were so steep

:) :) 

An unrestored section of the wall

People were standing near the ledge (which dropped right off into the mountains) and taking pictures

It was super windy and I'm terrified of heights--so I didn't get a picture near the ledge but still had to take one up there 

The American Girl Place in Chicago has nothing on a Barbie party on the Great Wall
I wish I had a daughter so I could take her to this!

We took the toboggan down-

Next we went to Wanfujing, a famous market/shopping street and HAD to do some shopping (I'm a little deprived in Jinan) 

Then we checked out the big street food section--this guy was eating a fried tarantula 

After we were so exhausted we just relaxed at our hostel

The next morning i checked out the CCTV building. It was named "Best Tall Building Worldwide" Some people call it the "Big Underpants" building--I have no idea why, the best idea i could think of is that it looks like legs...or a pair of boxers? Or maybe it loses its meaning in translation between chinese and english? Ha if anyone knows why its called this let me know!

And then I went to a market street that my friend told me about--it was a little more classy than a normal street market but it was in a historic hutong (an alleyway or narrow street where people used to live)

I LOVE the street markets. Theres so much junk and fake things to look at. Im going to miss this probably the most when I go back to America. 

I had to buy one of these! Shout out to Chi Omega :) 

Some Chinese people had me take a picture with this Obama shirt

And then I met my friend at the Temple of Heaven--It was used during the Ming and Qing dynasties to pray to the heavens for a good harvest. It's regarded as a Taoist temple

In China earth is represented by a square and heaven by a circle so each of the main constructions (theres 3) are on a  squares yard and the main temples are circles. 

It was constructed by the same Emperor who constructed the Forbidden City so it looks very similar

This is the Hall Prayer for Good Harvests

This is the Imperial Vault of Heaven

This is what the inside looked like--i could sit and stare at all the detailing on the architecture of these temples forever--they are absolutely GORGEOUS

 The entrance to the circular mound altar. After 3 flights of stairs there is a small circle platform called the Heart of Heaven

There were too many people to get a pic of the small mound at the top but you can see the three flight of stairs

Its crazy that China has so many temples and places of worship yet the majority of people do not practice or identify with a religion--they just value the philosophies and ideas that come from Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism (of course thats just my perception--i haven't really talked to many chinese people about this or done any research)

After so much sightseeing we were exhaused--we headed back to the hostel and got ready to head back home. 

As for Beijing--I'm not really sure what i think about the city. The city really hasn't left an impression on me.  Basically when I left Shanghai I was already planning my next trip back. When I left Beijing I was excited to get home. I think it's a place that you should see because of its historical relevance to China and its development//government but past that the crowds and pollution make it a little overwhelming and unappealing. 

The train station! Back to Jinan. 

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