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The Amazingly Awesome Great Wall of China

THE BEST PART OF MY TRIP!

(sorry for the caps, but I’m just really, really excited!)

Johnny and I originally wanted to go to the Jinshanling section of the wall as most reviews say it’s not crowded and relatively peaceful, but we waited too late, so we just decided to take the public bus 919 to the Badaling section.

We might have missed the whole thing, as we look the wrong exit out of the subway station and walked 15 minutes out of the way. If it weren’t for a really nice Chinese man who helped us out, we probably would’ve been lost forever. The bus cost about $6 per person and took about an hour.

I wore a tank top and shorts expecting the Great Wall to be on fire, as most people who go in the summer have said they’ve basically died trying to do the hike. It was COLD. I actually wished I had brought some sort of jacket or sweatshirt. Of course, once you got moving, it wasn’t bad at all, and I’m so thankful it wasn’t blazing hot.

Being on the Great Wall was incredible. Yes, the Badaling section is quite crowded. But once you pass the major areas, things die down significantly and you can just sit on the steps and marvel at the sights around you. It was really grounding. For the longest time, I wouldn’t really believe that *I* was on the Great Wall of China. I just felt so grateful, so blessed, so in awe of my life at that moment. Even with a panda hat on.

I took at least a million pictures, so it was super hard to narrow it down. I hope I’ve done the Great Wall justice.

SO MANY PEOPLE.

After we finished our awesome hike along the Great Wall, we made a huge mistake and walked back down to where the buses dropped us off. It was a ghost town, not a single bus in sight. I freaked out, as the last bus back to Beijing was leaving in about 40 minutes. To add to the hot mess, we found out the actual bus stop back to Beijing was about 5 miles away, completely on the opposite side of the Great Wall from where we were. After turning down a number of black (scam) taxis wanting to charge us way too much money for a 15 minute cab ride, a family of 5 offered to shove us in their small car for 10 Yuan each (roughly $3 total). We made it to the bus stop JUST in time. Apparently, you are supposed to take the cable cars down the Great Wall to the bus departure area. Keep this in mind if you visit the Badaling section!

The Great Wall was obviously the highlight, and the best part of my trip to Beijing. Words can’t express how awesome it was. Once I got past the crowds, it was some of the most beautiful and breathtaking views I’ve ever seen. I still can’t believe I went.

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China Day 2: Beijing Zoo, Olympic Stadium, and Houhai Bar Street

Sorry for the long delay in between posts. I had everything almost ready, then there was news of Typhoon Bolaven headed towards Korea. Needless to say, I’ve been juggling between freaking out, buying water and flashlights, and taping my windows. For some crazy ass reason, I still had to come in to work today. Not sure what the logic is behind it, but…..yeah.

Anyways, on to more posts about my trip to China!

The second day of our trip to Beijing was slam packed! I heard all about how awesome the Beijing zoo was, and I knew I wanted to see the pandas, so we headed there later in the afternoon, hoping to avoid the crowds.

Sadly, the Beijing zoo was probably the most crowded place we went to during our time in Beijing. But the pandas were worth it!

They were adorable! Pandas are my favorite, so I was really excited to see them. They just look so big and cuddly!

SIMBA! (that’s what everyone kept yelling)


This guy had the bright ass idea of jumping over the fence to get a better look at the tigers. UM WHAT?! Shortly after, 3 more people decided to do the same thing.

Sadly, the pandas, the lions and the tigers were the highlights of the Beijing zoo. All of the other animals were kept in really close quarters, and sometimes just a concrete cage with nothing resembling a natural habitat at all. So many of the animals looked visibly stressed. The elephants in particular were kept in a very, VERY, hot and humid concrete room, with just enough room to move around in a small circle. One of the elephants kept tugging at his gate, clearly looking miserable. As an avid animal lover, seeing the animals in these really terrible conditions just broke my heart.

After the Beijing Zoo, Johnny and I decided to take a short subway ride to the Olympic Park. Since the London Olympics were still going on, everyone else seemed to have the same idea. Luckily, the streets are so wide and spacious, you truly didn’t notice the crowds at all.

Really random plaque at the Olympic Park, but I loved it!

Aquatic building!

The stadium is huge, much bigger than I expected it to be. The energy in the air was palpable. There were several big screen projections around the park playing Olympic coverage. The McDonalds at the park had really awesome rooftop seating with flat screen TVs. It was perfect for sipping on a mocha and people watching.

Sadly, after this, my camera died, so pictures from my favorite part of the day are from my camera phone. I apologize for the low quality!

After a long day, I just wanted to get a drink. After a quick Google search, I found out that Houhai Bar Street in the Shichahai area of Beijing was the perfect place to go. And my gosh… I have no idea on how to get there. We took subway to the closest stop, then used the GPS on my phone to lead us there. The GPS lead us through traditional hutongs, alleyways and all sorts of craziness, but it was so cool to see a completely different side of Beijing.

The Houhai bar street is situated around Houhai lake. It was a Sunday night, so I’m not sure how it normally is, but Houhai bar street was perfect. All along the lake there are little bars with outdoor patios that were great for couples and small groups of friends, no loud music or anyone trying to get you to buy something, and no tourists (except us). It was the exact opposite of Sanlitun bar street (more on this later).

Like I said before, excuse the shitty camera phone pictures. I just wanted to give you a glimpse of what it looked it. After a long day of sightseeing, we settled into one of the bars, ordered some Tsingtaos and watched the US vs Spain Olympic basketball game. It was the perfect way to end the day.

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China Part 1: The Forbidden City

Oh China.

I spent 5 days in China, and it was everything I imagined it to be, and everything I didn’t imagine it to be at the same time.

I always pictured Beijing as a city with tiny little streets (and a lot of them are), with just mass chaos EVERYWHERE. It was partially true.

It’s crowded. It’s dirty. There’s a lot of poverty. The mythical babies with no diapers and a hole in their pants DO exist. People stare 20x more than in Korea. And then there’s the continuous¬† hacking and spitting that just never ever seems to stop. People shove to get onto the subway, even more so than in Korea where I thought I’d seen it all. Johnny and I were approached by 2 different “tea ceremony” scam artists. And everywhere seems to have this weird, slight, musky odor.

But, the main roads and streets were very spacious and open. The subway is extremely cheap and easy to use. The weather was GORGEOUS. I’m talking very low humidity, cool, crisp nights, and very mild days, the exact opposite of the sauna that has been Korea for the past 3 months. The shopping was great. The food was TO DIE FOR. The upper class areas of Beijing are super, super nice, and definitely rival some of the hot spots in Seoul. The beer is great.¬† The people were friendly. Everywhere wasn’t a clusterfuck of people, and we actually spent some nights walking around the city with not a single soul around.

One of the highlights of the trip was our visit to the Forbidden City. So grand! So beautiful! So well preserved! SO huge! We spent half of the day there and there was still so much to see.

The Forbidden City is the number 1 tourist site in Beijing, so be prepared for long lines and massive crowds of people. We went later in the afternoon, and the crowds weren’t too bad, but I can only imagine what it must be like when it is busier.

Of course, I took a ton of pictures, but here are some of my favorites.

China was the one place I really never had a desire to go to, and I have to say that Beijing totally changed my mind. I really did enjoy my short time there. Have you ever felt surprised about a country/city you never wanted to see, but got there and it changed your mind?

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