Recently, bf and I went on an Asia trip. We went to Japan, Philippines, and our last stop was China.
It was 5:00 in the afternoon when we arrived in Beijing. Our flight from Hongkong got delayed by 2 hours, thanks Dragonair.
We went to the immigration officer that was giving out the 72 hour transit visa. If you are not familiar with the 72 hour transit visa, it is a FREE visa to enter China provided that you are just transiting. This means that there should be three different countries involved in your itinerary: from Country A transiting in China for 72 hours then going to Country B. In our case, we departed from the Philippines transiting in China for 72 hours then traveling to the U.S.
Hans and I don’t know anything Chinese, so, while still in Hawaii, we booked a three day tour ahead of time with an English speaking tour guide for our China trip.
Sure enough, our tour guide, Pan Xie, was already waiting for us outside the airport. He also waited for 2 hours, thanks again Dragonair. Pan Xie welcomed us with a warm smile. He dropped us off at the Sheraton Four Points and left.
After resting for a bit, we roamed the vicinity. And then, we got hungry.
This was the part when I almost cried!
Let me explain.
I was ordering my dinner but the problem was, the restaurant owners didn’t speak English! And I only know one Chinese word which is Xie xie (thank you). I cannot order Xie xie, can I?
My stress level went from 0 to 1000. All I wanted was water, rice, and chicken. I had to muster the best hand signals that I can. I don’t know what I did and how I did it but I was able to eat rice and chicken that night.
Note to everyone planning to go China: Learn some basic Chinese words like mifan (rice) and shui – pronounced as shwe (water). And I thought I could go anywhere with my English.
Our first stop was the EGG. The egg? The Chinese Arts Performing Center is the shape of an egg. *Picture picture*. Then, we went to the Forbidden City. Pan Xie was always talking about this and that, as he should, and one of the few things that clicked in my already fried brain was that it’s called Forbidden City because it was the place where the emperor used to live and that it was forbidden for him to go out of the city and the people outside the city were also forbidden to go inside the city. Ahhhh.
I gotta say though that the palaces in China were beautiful. They tried to preserve the old stuff inside the palaces and if you look from the glass window outside, you can see dusts and discolorations on the beddings and furnitures. There were also a lot of sculptures of dragons, cranes, and other animals outside.
After lunch, we headed to the Temple of Heaven and called it a day.
This was a day to remember.
Though we went to the Summer Palace and the Jade Factory in the morning, the trip to the Great Wall in Mutianyu in the afternoon outshined every place we’ve been into in China.
By the way, there is no way to climb the wall but with a chair lift. Not unless if you’re a ninja. So, Pan Xie took us to the chair lift, made us sit, and the chair started to move right away! Hans and I were up in the air in 5 seconds! 5 seconds, people! It would have been good if Pan Xie, uhmmm, warned us??!!
I held unto my cellphone tight. There is no way that my cellphone is falling down. All the pictures from our Asia trip are in it. Hans and his fear of heights didn’t matter at that time cos we can’t do anything. We were just praying that the cables doesn’t break.
After probably 5-10 minutes of being up in the air, we finally made it!
We walked the wall. It was an amazing experience! Imagine? THE GREAT WALL!! It was cold at the top. The view of the wall stretching from miles after miles was, of course, spectacular! The experience was surreal. Never in our lives have we imagined to walk the Great Wall. We only see it in movies. An icing on the cake was, there were not that many tourists on the wall. The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall was actually almost 2 hours away from Beijing which was probably why people don’t want to go there. On the other hand, the Badaling section of the Great Wall is closer (only an hour away) to Beijing. There’s one caveat though. Badaling is populated with tourists. We don’t want that. We’d rather travel by an hour more and experience it with more privacy. Here are some pictures.
After walking for 3 miles, we were spent. We rode the Toboggan ride (a.k.a. SLIDE OF DEATH) to go down. I was horrified by the experience but Hans enjoyed it so much!
Click on the sample video to see what a Tobaggan ride is.
After the Great Wall, it was time to go home.
I have to say though that this Asia trip was just as good as our Europe trip last year. Not only because of the quality time, amazing people, food, and places, but of course, the fact that we only spent a fraction of what the actual cost would have been. We had so much fun and yet, we stayed under the budget.
As always, we flew back home to Hawaii exhausted but ironically invigorated and with a smile in our face.