This entry is long overdue!!
25.07.2006 30 °C
Well we spent a lovely week in China at the start of June and yes it has nearly taken me 2 months to finally update my blog so l have no doubt there will be parts l have forgotten!
So our flight details were - bmi Belfast to London, Lufthansa London to Frankfurt and Lufthansa to Beijing. So that was the plan.............. Well that went a bit pear shaped!
Checking in at Lufthansa we were told the flight was over sold and we were being put on standby at that point my face dropped - but then we were told as we were both star alliance gold members we would be upgrade to either business class or first RESULT!! We just had to speak to the Lufthansa staff in Frankfurt! I was happy!
We got to London ok only to find our our flight was delayed to Frankfurt - ok we have a few hours to spend before our 17.15 flight to Beijing - should be ok, may have to forgo chilling out in lounge and a drink or two but no biggie RIGHT - WRONG! The hour delay turned into 2 hour delay, we were touching down as our Beijing flight was taking off - BUGGER. We were only going away for 7 nights it was going to eat into our holiday time. The flight crew announced passengers who they knew their connection flights were affected - NO MENTION of us...... Ding dong and a lovely German lady attends us and we explain our predicament - she trots off to find out more information. Came back yes the Beijing flight has gone but once we got off we would be directed to a transfer desk and they would sort us out.
Off the flight we queue the rumour is that we would be transfered into an China Airways flight leaving later that evening - phew only a few hours delay. Just as we were about to approach the desk another staff member looks at our travel documents and tells us the transfer flight is fully booked and we need to go through to the main desk and the would re-book us onto the next flight leaving 24 hours next day. WHAT?????
So out we go into a very long queue at the Lufthansa desk eventually we get to the desk explain the lady checks our details and looks strangly at us - apparently we were booked onto China Airways and they should of booked us through at the transfer desk. So our boarding cards are stamped and we were sent down to the China Airways desk. To cut along story short we trotted up and down between desks for ages EVENTUALLY getting our boarding cards for the new flight!
So we head back into to departures and chill out for an hour in the Lufthansa lounge. The China Airways flight was cramped, with screaming babies and screaming male passengers! It was a long 9 hours but we eventually got there!
Our hotel was nonedescript basic room, adequate size, clean enough and well placed to walk to most places or a subway so it was grand!! We had a kip for a few hours and dragged ourselves up around 8pm.
Beijing our first night we wandered down Wafunjung Street (l hope l spelt that right) and l was surprised at how westernised it was - all the shops l would expect to see on a UK high street. So we bit the bullet and went for Beijing Duck - we went to a restaurant (huge) and were sent to the 7th floor. We were told it would be a 15 minute wait but it was more like 5 minutes. We sat down and ordered our duck. It came out with all the trimmings, it was carved at our table and we got stuck in - delicious.
After this we wandered down with the intention of walking to T'ianamen Square - we didnt think it was too far - but it was! And it started to rain!!! But we got there after being hassled by rickshaw men the entire way - l will give them that they are persistent!
After a few shots of Mao's tomb (for want of a better word) we walked back to our hotel - shattered!
Today our intention was to book our trip to the Great Wall and take in the Forbidden City - and thats what we did.
We booked our trip to Badaling at a hostel close by our hotel and got it for 500 RMB including hotel transfers and lunch, it also included a trip to the Ming Tombs also.
The Forbidden City was huge - we spent around 4 hours here. Quite a bit of it was under construction which was not great for photos but we made the most of it. To be honest l wasnt as impressed with it as l thought l was going to be but it was great to be there, the intrigate pieces of architecture was cool l loved the the Emperor effiages and dragons. There were various rooms showing the robes, musical instruments, weaponry and coinage.
At the end of the Forbidden City was a garden which l really liked. This then lead out and we walked accross to a park which l THINK was Bai Hai Park - this was great - we sat down had a beer for about 40pence (result) for a big bottle, afer indulging in a few beers we wandered around the park, watched the families out on the paddle boats, listened to some Chinese people playing instruments.
We easily caught a cab back to our hotel and with a wash up and change of clothes we headed to a Thai restaurant which was delicious and then as it was a Saturday night we went over to Salitun (yes l know it was touristy expat land but l was a tourist!!) and had a few more beers!
We lay in today and rested then decided to go to the Silk market shopping.
I must note now that Bread Talk in one of the shopping malls was where we breakfasted most mornings - a savoury and sweet piece of bread went down well!
So we got the subway to the market which took us out right at the market. After a quick wander around to see what was available - some of that was a scary - hands and voices everywhere - do you want a scarf, a bag, a watch, sunglasses etc etc!! So after we had a soft drink and then we went back into the hoards and bought loads of pressys for friends and families - it was counterfiet heaven!!
This was our trip to the Great Wall, we went to Badaling. So, it was an early start - this was interesting to be up early to see all the Beijing bicycles commute to work! Our trip out of the city we saw all the the construction work for arenas for the Olympics and the Olympic Village.
Our first stop was at a jade factory (shock!) we walked around looked and then stopped outside until the rest of the group finished shopping.
It was then off to Ming Tombs - this was rather an unevent l think l was expecting a TOMB but it was more of a mound!! Still it was fun having to walk through a gate way shouting in chinese to leave the spirits of the dead world behind!
Then another JADE factory - this time Paul and l stopped outside! There was a camel chilling in the shade across the road from us which we found amusing!
It was then time for lunch which was at a porcelain factory! And a big government tourist shop! Lunch was a buffet affair - fish, chicken, soup, rice and fruit! It was really nice!
The it was off to the wall. The part we went to at Badaling was totally reconstructed and had some many towers/turrets - so off we went. Well l was shocked - l think l expected an undulating wall which would be a nice dander - OH NO!! It was at a really high pitch and deep steps the entire way! In the beating down sun this was not good! Im not really good with heights and l made it up about 10-20 steps and could no no further! Still l sat at the bottom whilst Paul did the walk and people watched!!
After the Wall we were taken back into Beijing but not to our hotels now we went to a tea house!! Another con to make us buy more! We were shown different teas and how to taste and drink them- it was quite interesting l suppose - but we could buy the same leaves so much cheaper in town!!
Today we went to the Temple of Heaven - which again was under construction for quite a bit, but in my view this was a much nicer site than the Forbidden city- the buildings more interesting. Circular buildings to give praise for harvest. Plus there were elderly chinese folk singing in the park which was nice to watch.
After catching a cab back to the hotel l decided to go for a foot massage at a parlour behing our hotel - it cost around £6 stg but it was the most traumatic experience l have had in a long time - a male masseure had the pleasure of my foot rub, after pushing himself into me under the guise of a shoulder rub! I really thought l was going to have to run out of the place for fear of being attacked! The foot rub was fine then he decided to rub my legs and for my mind it was a bit to close to the bone if you ask me!! Anyway it was over l threw my cash down and ran out.
Dinner was at the Outback Steak house for some western fare!!
This was my birthday and we spent it going shopping to get the rest of our gifts, then we went to the Pennisula hotel which was like the most expensive hotel in the city, and l was bought a Tiffany bangle, we then went for a few glasses of chilled white wine which were so expensive.
That evening we had a salubrious dinner of KFC! We then wandered down the snack street night market and saw the deep fried bugs, amd even starfish which looked to be alive on a stick!!
Again up and at em early we went out to the summer palace. This was my most favourite site! Such a lovely breeze coming off the lake. We wandered over the bridges, saw the marble boat, stood on half moon bridges! It was great to sit in the wonderful surroundings and watch the world go by!
After spending around 5 or 6 hours there we headed back to the hotel and as this was our last night in Beijing we decided to go for Beijing Duck again.
After this we head down some Hutongs and took our final few snaps.
We got home fine, my only side line was that our cab to the airport was awful l spent the entire trip with my eyes squezzed shut praying we would not crash!!
Our trip to China & Beijing was definately interesting, some things really annoyed me - the traffic which was on a points system to plow down pedistrians, the spitting that was simply disgusting and the smog it was thick over the city for our first few days. But it was a city that grew on you and l can now say lve seen some of the most wonderful sites of China! Im glad we went but l dont think we will either feel a mad pull to go back there just in the near future!!