First impression of Beijing for me is the amazing amount of landscaping beside the six lane roads, which at this time of year features flowering peach trees, cherry trees and magnolias. We stayed 3 nights at the hotel in Beijing, which had a rather cute chest high robot ambling around cleaning the floor in the lobby. If you stood in front of it and blocked its way it would stop and stay something (in Chinese of course) and managed to sound cute doing it.  Sometimes there was another robot in the dining room that carried dirty plates back to the kitchen.

Sight seeing proper started on Saturday, with a bunch of optional tours including Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City. We had been told before hand by the guide that it was huge, really huge, that didn’t really convey the size. It’s estimated that we walked about 6kms looking at what we saw, and that didn’t include meandering. Might be worth looking at on google maps to get an idea of the size…..I can’t do it at my end. China and google not very compatible at present. People with iphones can use the apple maps. .

Don’t know what these guys were supposed to be doing at the forbidden city, but they stood they just kept on standing there
garden part of forbidden city

Most of the group elected to see the pandas at the zoo, but a group of 7 of us wanted to see the summer palace instead, which resulted in a pretty interesting adrenalin loaded car ride trying to get the gardens before they closed.  Mike was the white knuckled front seat passenger, delegated the task of holding the mobile phone. We didn’t make it in time to get in, but the ride was quite a nail biting experience with lots of very close call lane changes.

Looking down – our bus is among those at the bottom right
Love magnolias – this one was at the base of the great wall walk

The great wall got the heart rate going a bit – we could choose how far we went but were limited by time. OK, limited by muscle power and aerobic capacity as well if truth be known. I was intrigued to find a rest room at the top. Talk about room with a view – put Mooloolaba’s million dollar loo to shame. The tour then organised a visit to a centre for traditional Chinese medicine, for a $5.00 foot massage. We could have our health assessed by a Chinese medical professional. Free diagnosis, but expensive remedy. Mike was told he needed to take herbs to prevent having a stroke – only $600 for a month. Others in the group were also going to be charged a similar amount for whatever ailment they had. No buyers so far as I know.

First bullet train ride on Monday – 300 km an hour. The trip took about 2 hours. The ride was smooth, but not much leg room for sitting. Then a bus trip to the hotel. We were told to expect a better hotel than the one in Beijing, but began to wonder when the bus detoured off the main highway to a one way dirt road with a tractor coming the opposite way. Those with ipad maps found out that the little dirt road was the approved route to our hotel. Then back onto normal roads again and we went past what appeared to be a whole new town of high rise buildings being built. As it turns out this hotel is better than the last….mammoth sized bed.


  1. Cath says:

    Looks great! Love the trees! So pretty.

  2. Peter says:

    Looks awesome!

  3. Paul says:

    Wow, you two are going to get fit from all that walking, especially with hills included! Thanks for the interesting update. What’s the weather like? What was the air quality like in Beijing? Are the locals friendly to Aussie tourists?

  4. Jenny says:

    I am very impressed with that hike along the great Wall! You guys will be as fit as fiddles when you come home. How is the food over there? Are they serving western food or getting you to soak up more of the Chinese culture?

  5. Marg says:

    Food has been a variety of Chinese so far. Luches have typically been sit at a table of 10 and help yourself to the central turnstyle of various dishes. At the breakfast buffet you can have a mixture that includes some Western food (eg baked beans) mixed steamed veggies and salad greens, and a wide choice of Chinese tucker. Mike getting a little adventurous, and being conscientiously healthy as well – he’s had some broccoli for breakfast every morning so far.

    What do Chinese think of Australians? I don’t think they think anything. One young guy sitting opposite us on the train asked where we were from in quite good English, but couldn’t understand when we said Australia. Eventually I showed him a passport. I asked if he spoke english, and he answered a very little bit, and that was the end of the conversation. Eventually he got off the train and was replaced by a girl in her twenties, who sat silently until I quoted the frequent comment by our first tour guide (we have different ones for each town) “Everyone spend money, be happy” , when people started getting anxious about getting themselves and their luggage off the train. The girl got the joke immediately, and was trying to smother an uncontrolled sustained giggle for a couple of minutes, but it turned out that she didn’t speak much english either.

    As for the exercise …. my legs are still recovering from the Chinese Wall mission

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