A Travellerspoint blog

Loser Kate and TSQ

sunny

What did I do on my last day in Beijing? Well the loser that I am had to go back and see Tiananmen Square!!! All I can say in my defense is that when I was walking down the street to the Forbidden City I never looked to my left so that is how I missed it! I did feel very stupid that I missed it as it is huge and impressive and I could see how all the tanks would have gotten in there. I love a good Communist statue and there were plenty of those. However I was extremely disappointed that the viewing session of a dead Mao finished at 11 – the time Tao told us to get there to line up ☹ Unfortunately Mao has not been added to my list of dead leaders – Lenin and Ho Chi Minh ☹ See the photo of the man in the umbrella hat - I wonder what Mao would have thought of that!!!

That night Michelle, Will and I went to a fantastic restaurant called Dali Courtyard. It was beautiful inside – nothing like what I expected and much bigger to than what my courtyard hotel was. The menu is a set one – where you pay a set price and depending on what ingredients are freshly available and what the chef feels like cooking = what you get to eat. It was a little bit of a splurge but so worth it. The prawns mmmmmmmm!!!!!

Good bye China it has been a blast!!!!

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Posted by Arkgecko 19:39 Archived in China Comments (1)

Ok I can be stupid sometimes!

But VERY rarely!

sunny

Being sick on the first day in Beijing meant that I missed out on seeing The Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square with the group – I knew I could easily see these on my own and the rest did me wonders.

After the trip ended I moved to new accommodation in a hutong (an area which is more traditional and locals live.) My accommodation was a little 6 room place – they are like a square building with a courtyard in the middle and all the rooms around it. At first I was worried about what I had done as it seemed a little out of the way and the accommodation we had with Intrepid was good. But I soon realized that I had made a great choice! The area was so funky – with so many cool and unusual stores and some yummy restaurants. It was also easy to get around on the buses, which I love doing as you get to see so much more than being on the subway. Definitely the place to stay in Beijing! And if you have a toilet issue – all is good as there are so many public toilets in Beijing!!! My mum would be happy there!

Right so it was time for me to head to The Forbidden Palace and Tiananmen Square for the day. Now normally I am very good at reading a map and getting to places but the maps of Beijing are ridiculous. I must say that producing a map of Beijing for a tourist must be hard as the place is so big! Thus the maps we had missed out on so many streets and what you think is a block is more like twenty!!!
My first mistake was thinking that something was the Forbidden City when it actually was Jingshan Park. But this was okay as the park was beautiful and you got an amazing view of the Forbidden City from on top of the hill – so getting lost on this occasion was great! From my view I knew which direction to take for the Forbidden City so out I go, cross the road and find a sign that to keep things organised there is only one entrance and exit for the Forbidden City and I was at the exit. Since when do the Chinese want to keep things organised and flowing!!!!! No problem I will just walk around to the other side – it does not look too far on the map – a map where 20 blocks looks like one block! FARK!!!! Off I go – walking along tree-lined streets but having no idea how long it was going to be. Since taxis are cheap in China I thought stuff it I will get the next taxi! He laughed at me when I told him where to go as he drove about 5mins and dropped me off – probably the best 10Y he has ever made!

I have made it to Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square! There is a big red building/gate with a huge picture of Mao on it! Yep I am here! Following the mass of crowds I walk through the gates into a big open space – now here is where I prove to you all that I can be stupid – I know hard to believe right! But in my defense the map was stupid too!!! In front of the Forbidden City (on the map) was a square with Tiananmen on it. One would think that something shaped like a square with Tiananmen on it would be Tiananmen Square! So I am wandering through this open space thinking to myself “Well this is nothing like what I expected TS to be like – why am I so underwhelmed by this?” “How did all those tanks get in here?” But I keep walking through and get to the entrance for the Forbidden City. Well that was a disappointment! (more to come later)

Like everywhere in China logic organisation is not the key. To get into the FC you need to line up to get your ticket. If you want an audio guide (which I did) you have to line up for that; then you have to line up to get the audio guide switched on and get the earphones; then you have to line up to get you ticket stamped; then you have to line up to put your bags through security!!!

The FC is huge (again the Chinese like it BIG) and there are some beautiful temples and the audio guide was great. The mass of people made it hard to see any of the displays but the buildings are amazing. I am also glad I made the mistake of going to Jingshan Park first as to get an aerial view helped me appreciate the enormity of it all.

That night I head out for dinner with Michelle and Will and we start talking about the FC and TS. As we are talking I pull my map out, as how they were describing TS was not how I remembered it! On the map I read the same thing I read all day but then as my eyes wander down a bit I see a big square with Tiananmen Square – F*&# I am an idiot!!!!!

Other crazy things that happened today

- I got hit with a magazine by an elderly Chinese lady when I tried to give her my seat on the bus
- I saw yet another 2 boys do poos in public right where they were standing and the second one was at least 7 YEARS OLD!!!!!!!!
- A little girl got out of a cab where I was standing – she stared at me in awe “You are a for…ieg…ner”
- We ate a whole duck!

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Posted by Arkgecko 04:35 Archived in China Comments (1)

The Great Wall

There is not much you can say ....

sunny

What can one say about The Great Wall - it is great and it is a wall!!! The place is amazing and I had to pinch myself a number of times as I could not believe that I was standing on it. It is unbelievable and I only saw a small section of it - it would be an experience to be able to fly over it and see an aerial view.

One thing I did not expect was the chairlift ride up and the toboggan down and the BEAUTIFUL clear blue sky!

Also saw a man up there with 2 dozen roses - not sure what for but imagine getting proposed to on the Great Wall!!!

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Posted by Arkgecko 01:59 Archived in China Comments (0)

Leaving Xian = Hell

sunny

From my earlier blog you would have read that arriving and leaving Xian were two experiences I did not want to repeat ever!

To get to Beijing we caught another overnight train. Now the actual train rides are fine (even though by the time I got on the train I was sick – now that is another story, one I am not sure I want to put on my blog but lets just say that a toilet was involved and my aim was not the best!) but getting on this train was a nightmare. There are a lot of security checks at all of the train stations in China but this one was ridiculous. Firstly we had to line up outside the train station and show our ticket and passport. The Chinese are not big fans of lining up and love a good push in but I was having none of it. Finally we get through this stage to then join another line to get through the security check – which is like an airport with your bags having to go through an x-ray and you getting patted down. There was one big line for 2 machines and it was a nightmare. I really don’t mind pushing and shoving but when there are children involved I am not happy. Tao was telling us to push in but as I explained to him I was not going to push and shove a child so the lining up process was not an experience I wish to repeat! Once in you then have to line up again to get through the ticket gate and then line up again to get to the platform. By this stage I was OVER lining up and just wanted to get on the train. I think the Xian station needs to do a logical rethink of their entrance procedures!

Posted by Arkgecko 01:46 Archived in China Comments (0)

The Warriors

New and old

sunny

Some of you may be aware that Intrepid supports some amazing organisations around the world and give dollar for dollar to these places (you donate a dollar and they will match it). Green Gecko is one of these many lucky places and so is the Huiling Centre in Xian. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/about/foundation/
The centre’s aim is to integrate young adults and adults with mental disabilities into society. Some live in residential care as independently as possible and the rest with their families. The centre works on providing everyday life skills for them. Intrepid always tries to fit in a visit to one of the organisations they support and we spent the morning at the Huiling Centre getting to know the young adults. Many of them love to sing and dance so they performed some dances for us and then got us all up and involved with the Chicken Dance!!! It was a lot of fun and they got right into it. A couple of us wanted to do some more dancing so they put on the Macarena and off we went – that can be a very long song! Then the funniest thing happened – as I was saying to Michelle I wish I had my iPod here as I could teach them the Nutbush – on came the music and they knew it! Definitely got my exercise! The staff were amazing and very interesting to talk to. Many of them are doing social work at university and are volunteering at the centre. They have a little shop downstairs which sells drinks and make some arts and crafts to sell. Some have gotten part time jobs such as being a cleaner in the building that the centre is in. The staff explained that in China there is a very big social stigma for anyone with a disability and that the general population is not aware of the hardships that people with a disability and their families suffer. The centre is one way to help inform the public and improve the situation.

The next lot of warriors we visited in Xian were the Terracotta Warriors. I had no idea what to expect, as I do not think images really do it justice. Like everywhere we have been in China the museum was packed!!! Word of advice DO NOT travel China in their school holidays if you can help it! The first part of the museum, which has some displays about the history etc was sooooooo noisy and packed – I couldn’t see a thing and I was worried that the visit was going to be a wipe out but the next three areas were fantastic. You cannot image the detail and the size of these statues and the size of the area! What an amazing job the people are doing restoring these relics. I would love to actually spend some time there and see how they do it. They could make some serious cash out of that – a holiday at the warriors watching and learning about the process!!!
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Posted by Arkgecko 01:17 Archived in China Comments (0)

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