Bustling Beijing

I had a 3 day stopover in Beijing before flying to the US. With the free 72 hour visa for Australians (as well as for another 50 countries) it was a really good chance for me to see the city in a short amount of time and to avoid the $100 fee!
Arrived to Beijing at 6am and caught the airport express to Dongzhimen to my hostel in Qianmen. By 8am, it was already over 30 degrees! Xiaoxiao (who I met in Basel and coincidentally again in the same hostel in Paris back in January) and her friend kindly showed me around the city. It was so great her doing this as most people don’t speak English and therefore can be a bit difficult at times.
We walked to Tiananmen Square, the world’s largest public square where Chairman Mao’s picture hangs. We walked through the Forbidden City which is the imperial palace from the Qing Dynasty. It was very impressive as it expands a pretty huge area. Headed up to Jingshan Park and walked up to the top for the view of the Forbidden city.
Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square

 View of Forbidden City from above
Walked around the many hutongs in Beijing and also visited Chairman Mao Mausoleum. Looking at the body of Mao was a little eerie. The Chinese see him as a great leader (he started the People’s Communist Party) and many were paying respects to him.
After, went to the Olympic Stadium where they held the 2008 summer Olympics and saw the water cube and bird’s nest stadium which was cool.
Birds Nest Stadium
Water Cube
For dinner, we headed to Beishi and went to Quanjude Restaurant which is very famous and 144 years old. We had the Beijing specialty of roast duck and other local dishes and it was delicious! The Beishi area was nice to stroll around and we stayed til sunset.
 
Roast duck – so tasty!
The next day I caught the subway and then the local bus to Badaling – where a part of the Great Wall of China lies. It was a challenge not speaking any Mandarin and going on a local bus where no one spoke English but I made it. I didn’t want to pay for an expensive tour and the bus ride was only 12RMB (<$2). There are different parts of the Great Wall that you can visit but Badaling is the closest to Beijing and therefore the most touristy spot. I definitely would’ve hiked it but with temperatures soaring over 40 degrees, it was not feasible. Nevertheless, the views of the Great Wall from Badaling were spectacular! Would love to be back here again in the near future!
Great Wall of China
On the Great Wall

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