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Travel Report Off Topic Post Beijing >>>

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Current mood:
July 25, 2012 06:25AM

Last Wednesday on our arrival - just during the height of the rush hour - we chose to wield our way through the bushes and plants. We had been standing in the hotel limo for one hour right in front of the hotel.

Once in the room, we were curious to see how the gridlock looked from above

While my wife was attendeding a seminar, my daughter and I visited some shopping malls. I was very surprised to see the list of malls she had compiled. Complete with ratings and Chinese and Latin characters. So all we had to do is to point to the Chinese name and this way we had no problem getting around town.

At ca. 19:30, the ceiling of "The Place" turned into a huge screen. Much like the Fremont street in Las Vegas

Our next mall was the "Solana". A huge conglomerate of shops and restaurants. A bit older we assumed. And the sign at the entrance underlined our feeling.

On this Thursday not many shoppers around

Like in the West, the big franchises start to uniform the shopping experience. Wherever you go, you will find the same brands

On Friday we had a private tour guide showing us highlights of Beijing. I immediately liked the van after finding this magazine

The Forbidden City is huge and will leave a lasting impression

Since it was school vacation, a lot of students everywhere

The Forbidden City's huge dimensions allowed for some less crowded areas

At the back exit, the crowds really built up again. The hill in the background is man made! They used the material from the moats around the Forbidden City. Feng Shui demands for a mountain and a river, that is the cultural background

I was very surprised to find such a good infrastructure. The highways were wide and everything was well labeled in Chinese and English. We were traveling to Badaling, ca. 60 km North West of Beijing to visit the Great Wall

For lunch we stopped at a Jade factory with a HUGE sales room

On top of it, an equally spacious dining room

This is the head of the queue which went all the way up for another kilometer

From here it is another 20 minutes to the cable car

The Great Wall was packed with tourists. When we saw the queue for the cable car to go down, we decided not to spend too much time up here. The weather would not allow for great views anyway

The wall had been rebuilt in this section. This was a very important shield to protect the capital from aggressors from the North

On the right you can see the end of the queue to go down. After seeing that, we decided to keep our stay very short on the wall

Back in town we had a look at the Birdsnest stadium (Beijing Olympics 2008)

After that we passed the Tiananmen Square. The South Gate (at the South End of the Forbidden City) is "The Gate of Heavenly Peace"

Now it was time for some shopping and dinner. I was reassured that I brought the right phone. My Samsung Galaxy S3 did a great job on this trip. After turning the phone back on, the lock screen would automatically show two digital clocks, one for the roaming time and one for the home time. I was very pleasantly surprised by the phone's travel support

The Xidan Joy City mall features the longest escalator in the world. It goes straight up to the 6th floor

There are no pictures from Saturday. The heaviest rain since 61 years in Beijing. On this rainiest of all days, we were lucky to experience extraordinary hospitality. Trying in vain to catch a taxi in front of a shopping mall, a local spotted our situation. He drove us 11 km to our hotel. Refusing sternly to accept any money. Thanks to this man's generosity, we will always remember Beijing in a very positive way.

After the rain on Saturday, we were greated by blue skies on Sunday. It felt like being in another city

The perfect day to explore the old residential areas (called Hutong) on a pedicab (riksha, tricycle). The tricycle has a battery and a motor under the passenger seat. So the job is not that hard for the driver

We enjoyed a meandering tour around the Beijing Clock Tower. Sometimes we were amazed how our driver managed to get through. The majority of the small streets were not that crowded though

This the Beijing Clock Tower. It's not that crowded here. If you want to explore the Hutongs, start here. Tell the hotel staff to write "Beijing Clock Tower" for you in Chinese and you are good to go. I told the hotel staff the name of a small street and that did not work so well. Luckily I had my phone with Android maps. The taxi driver really liked navigating this way. He was all smiles

This was the end of our pedicab trip through residential history

On Monday it was time to catch our plane. The ceiling of the Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) is so high, you just have to take a picture. The airport was built for the Olympic games. And it is definitely a very exciting first impression of Beijing

Is Beijing worth a visit?
Definitely YES in my opinion. I had been working here in 1998 and I was amazed how much the city had changed since. And the construction craze seems to be still in full swing. New malls and residential buildings seem to pop up everywhere. Some travel hints:
  • Avoid rush hours: 06:30 to 0900 and 16:30 to 19:30
  • After 22:00 beware of pickpockets in busy areas. Wearing a backpack might not be ideal
  • Always let the hotel staff write down your destination in Chinese
  • Carry the hotel name in Chinese for the trip back
  • There are not enough taxis during rush hour and rain. Plan your trip accordingly
  • If using the Subway, be prepared to walk big distances under ground
The citizen of Beijing were very friendly. We had just been in Shanghai in April. I have to say that today's Beijing is cleaner and more attractive then Shanghai. 15 years ago, that was completely different. We will definitely come back to this great town again. And in the mean time, we hope that the city planners get some good ideas and money to make the traffic flow easier. However as a tourist, you should be able to plan your excursions to avoid traffic. And then, Beijing is definitely a very attractive travel destination.
As for visiting the Great Wall: inquire with a travel agent to visit some less frequented areas. The hotspot is the access via cable car from Badaling. The next time we will look for a different section of the wall with fewer crowds. The Ming walls stretch over 8'850 kilometers, so that should be easily possible.

Edited 6 time(s). Last edit at 07/25/2012 07:33AM by Reto.

Travel Report Off Topic Post Beijing >>> Jpeg Attachments

Reto391July 25, 2012 06:25AM

Makes me want to visit Beijing Reto! Thumbs up! (n/t)

BobbyMike162July 30, 2012 01:34PM

Nice pics Reto, i'll read your comments later. (n/t)

wodo103July 26, 2012 07:55PM

I have a coworker in China right now.

Smaug95July 26, 2012 03:44AM

Scary story indeed. I think your co-worker had really bad luck, I consider >>>

Reto73July 26, 2012 04:07AM

Nice pics, Reto! Clapping! (n/t)

MCV95July 25, 2012 10:29PM

Great photo tour!Thank you! (n/t)

itschris72July 25, 2012 09:13PM

Thumbs Up Thank you! for sharing! (n/t)

Micha86July 25, 2012 08:49PM

Thank you! Wonderful Tour. Thumbs up! (n/t)

DanB73July 25, 2012 08:13PM

Great pictorial trip report Reto! Such sites! I hope to see for myself someday.

Timemiser101July 25, 2012 06:12PM

Thanks for the pics and info. Looks great. Clapping! (n/t)

Robmks76July 25, 2012 05:54PM

Fantastic post. Thank you!Clapping! (n/t)

jacobo83July 25, 2012 04:51PM

Fantastic trip and awesome photos, thanks for sharing Reto.

carlopmwf89July 25, 2012 04:23PM

Looks like a great trip, Reto Thumbs up! Bring back any China Made Watch or Movement Hairy Wrist Shot inside! ? (n/t)

Ethan_Mack93July 25, 2012 04:04PM

No, I did not really have time to hunt PMWs. There were a ton of luxury watch shops though (n/t)

Reto64July 26, 2012 03:33AM

AWESOME trip Retro! Thumbs Up Thumbs Up smile China is on list of places to visit smile (n/t)

cmoy81July 25, 2012 02:51PM

Fantastic trip, Reto. Thumbs Up Clapping! (n/t)

Dave M96July 25, 2012 01:32PM

Thanks for the tour, Reto.Thumbs up! (n/t)

Mark C.100July 25, 2012 01:23PM

Thumbs up!Re: Travel Report Off Topic Post Beijing >>>Thanks for sharing! (n/t)

johnizy83July 25, 2012 12:59PM

Great pictures and advice Reto! Clapping!

James T. KirkĀ©97July 25, 2012 09:44AM

Please wait a bit, I am fixing some URL problems with the pics (n/t)

Reto83July 25, 2012 06:29AM

Pictures should show now, if not, please post below here, thanks (n/t)

Reto67July 25, 2012 07:05AM


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