Hey everyone! Two weeks ago we had a national holiday. It was Labor Day, so we went to Beijing for a few days. We traveled to Beijing with nothing but a backpack and found that we still packed too much stuff!
On day 1 we took the bullet train to the Beijing South station. We rode on the fastest train they have and it took about four and a half hours. After arriving in Beijing, we made it to our hotel and walked around a bit with our program director. Our hotel was adjacent to the famous Sanlitun Bar Street which has many bars and international brand stores such as Adidas, Uniqlo, or American Apparel. We walked into this really cool store called Gentlemonster, which is like a high end sunglasses store, and tried on different pairs of glasses and took pictures with the different monsters they had in the store. After walking around for a bit we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the next day.
The next day we walked down Qianmen Street which is a local pedestrian street with lots of shops, and then finally found ourselves at Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. This was actually my second time coming to Beijing and seeing all of this, but nonetheless still a cool opportunity. Within Tiananmen Square there’s the Monument to the People’s Heroes, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong. Tiananmen itself means the Gate of Heavenly Peace and is well known for the large portrait of Chairman Mao and the sayings on both sides of his portrait. On the left side the translation is “Long Live the People’s Republic of China” and on the right side it reads “Long Live the Great Unity of the World’s People”. We were able to catch the water show they had in front of the gate which had decorative fountains and music playing, it was really cool.
After we toured the Forbidden City, we went to the Summer Palace which has tons of lakes, gardens, palaces, and pagodas. We climbed up Longevity Hill to go to the Tower of Buddha Incense, the highest building in the Summer Palace. Our Chinese mentor Lulu, said if we made it to the top we’d be blessed again, so up we went!
We finished up day 2 at a Hutong. Hutong basically just means narrow street or alley, and the one we went on had tons of food and souvenirs you could buy. After we ate dinner, we walked around the Hutong and tried many different foods. Some of us got churros, frozen yogurt, iced teas etc. We also bought tons of post cards because they were really cheap and showcased some of the cool places we had been. After we finished up at the Hutong, we went back to the bar street to walk around and then went to sleep early as we had the Great Wall the next day.
On day 3, we woke up bright and early for the Great Wall! The Great Wall has ten sections you can walk through, and this time we were going to the section called Juyongguan. The first time I came I went to the section called Mutianyu, known as the best-restored section, but I was excited for Juyongguan because it has one of the greatest forts defending ancient Beijing. At one point in history, Genghis Khan led his troops through this portion of the wall during his conquest of Chinese territory.
This section was definitely easier to climb compared to the first section I went to, but it was still extremely steep at times. The views were amazing, and it was definitely cool to get to see everything from the top. There’s a popular Chinese saying, 不到长城非常好汉 (bu dao chang cheng fei chang hao han), it basically is saying “he who has not climbed the Great Wall is not a true man” – I tried to remember this as I was suffering on the climb up. After the Great Wall, we ate lunch and then departed Beijing to go back to Shanghai. We got back to Shanghai at around 11 pm, so it was definitely a long day for us, but a worthwhile trip as a whole.
Next I’ll be sharing with you all what we did for Spring Break. Zaijian!