Statistically, 6 out of 7 dwarves are not happy.
- Aug 21, 2007
Your video is really great.
Whoops, I missed this earlier, sorry! Yes, we were happy with the transfer only options we chose. We don't like to be bound by someone else's idea of a timeline. I know if you hire a private guide, you can ask them to speed up or slow down as needed. I prefer reading up on what I'm going to see ahead of time, and then wandering around at my own leisure once we get to where we're going.Were you happy with just the transfer to the great wall? Or do you think you would have benefitted from a guide? Same question for your other site seeing locations too I guess.
Thursday, July 12 - Beijing
We only have a limited time in Beijing. What did you like more? Temple of Heaven or Forbidden City? Our schedule right now only has us on the grounds of Temple of Heaven as we will arrive after the buildings are closed. Should we be spending more time there than Forbidden City so we can arrive earlier and get in the buildings?
We slept well at the hotel. We had a room right off the main dining room and lounge area, and had expected it to be noisy. Instead, we woke up wondering if we were the only guests in the hotel, a question that was reinforced when we were the only ones to show up for the 7:30 am breakfast seating. The meal was actually served closer to 8, and we had two Western breakfasts, one meat dumplings and one vegetable dumplings between the 4 of us, and shared them all. I only had the dumplings, and they were delicious.
We packed up our bags and left them with the hotel while we went out for the day. Thankfully, it was overcast (or perhaps just smoggy) and dry outside. We began by taking the subway to Tiantandongmen, and purchased tickets to enter the Temple of Heaven park. There are two price points for tickets here, and you need the more expensive ticket to access some of the sites, including the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.
We started off by going to the area in the park where Beijingers congregate to exercise.
We thought we might be on the late side for this, arriving around 9:30 am, but there were plenty of people there. We started out by watching a group of men playing something like hackey sack with an oversized shuttlecock, and it took no time at all for them to invite us to join them.
That went on for quite a while and was good fun. Eventually they did of course try to sell us a shuttlecock of our own, and for 10 yuan/$2 CDN we did buy it.
(This guy insisted I take his picture with Liam!)
From there, we moved on to a guy who invited us to play something like badminton, but with paddles instead of racquets. He was impressed by Liam's skill (he plays on the school badminton team) and kept saying "Wonderful! Wonderful!" We also bought a badminton set from him for 30 yuan/$6 CDN.
All around us, there was exercise equipment, and people doing chin ups and pull ups and swinging around on monkey bars and stretching. Most of them were elderly, and they looked like a very fit bunch. They were playing traditional music on portable radios, a group of women were chanting and playing a clapping game, a couple were doing tai chi, and overall it looked like a very fun and relaxing way to spend their day.
We moved on through the park, through the Long Corridor, which was beautiful, and on to the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. This was pretty spectacular to see in person, and definitely checked an item off the bucket list. We exited from a different direction than where we came in from, and wandered through a bit more of the park and the gift shop before deciding to head out.
We took the subway back to our home station, Tiananmen East, and headed to the Forbidden City. It was around noon when we arrived. The kiosk for foreigners to buy tickets is surprisingly far inside the complex; we were sure we'd missed it. Finally we purchased our tickets, and headed into the 'real' Forbidden City.
(The kids getting asked to pose for pictures again!)
It too was pretty spectacular, though we were content to wander through the complex without going into all of the buildings themselves. It wasn't unbearably crowded, but it certainly was busy.
We came out the north end of the Forbidden City, and crossed the road to enter Jingshan Park. This only cost 2 yuan/40 cents per person to climb up the hill to the pavilion at the top that offers a spectacular view out over the golden rooftops of the Forbidden City and reminds you of how large the complex really is. The climb looks imposing, but is not too bad. It took us around 15 minutes, and the staircase goes through a cool and shaded bamboo forest.
Done now with the Forbidden City, we headed back to our hotel, which was only a short walk away. We took a brief break there before heading across the street to Siji Minfu, also known as "Mass Foodie's Roast Duck" on the big red neon sign.
We had scoped this out as one of the city's popular spots for an excellent Peking duck dinner; outside the restaurant they have posted a number of awards that they have won. We arrived after 2 pm, hoping that a mid-afternoon meal would mean good seating availability, and were shocked to be told there was a 2 hour wait. We put our names in, but were a bit dejected as we headed back across the street to the hotel. We had Mr. Orange picking us up at 5 pm to head to the train station, and we were not at all sure that we'd have time to eat before leaving.
Back at the hotel, Chad used a translation app to let a member of the hotel staff know about our conundrum, and asked for a recommendation for another nearby Peking duck restaurant. The staff member did not speak English, but seemed to indicate that he could help us, and indicated to follow him. We went back across the street to the restaurant, past the hordes of people waiting out front, through the dining room, up the stairs to another dining room, and directly to a table! He spoke a few words to a waitress and left us to enjoy our meal.
We ordered a full duck and (after much confusion) the condiments and pancakes to accompany it; it wasn't clear to us whether these would be included or not. We also ordered some drinks and a bowl of plain rice for Mallory, who is a picky eater. The waitress brought out a huge bowl of grapes on ice as a starter. We were not expecting that, but they were nice, especially since we hadn't ordered any sides with our meal, not knowing exactly how much food it would entail. After the grapes, the duck came out, and was presented to us at the table before it was taken to a nearby counter for carving.
(Initially I felt a bit silly about wanting to watch the carving, but other tables filled with locals were doing the same.) It came back to our table in a beautiful presentation with the condiments and pancakes on the side (good thing we had ordered these).
The duck was delicious, and even Mallory had some and liked it. This meal was a fabulous experience and well worth the cost at 300 yuan/$60 CDN including our drinks.
By now it was about 4:30 pm, and it was time to go back to the hotel to collect our bags and catch our ride to the train station for our 6:50 pm train. Our driver came a few minutes early and we set off for the Beijing West train station. Because we had already printed all of our tickets, it was quick and easy to enter the station through security, and locate our waiting room on the second floor. We picked up a few snacks for the trip from the shops in the train station, and boarded the train. This was a T class train, and not nearly as nice as the first overnight train we rode. We still had soft sleeper tickets, but the train was much older. There were no electrical outlets at each berth, just one out in the hall for the whole car to share. There was a lot of noise from the train itself, and a whole lot of smoking happening, despite the no smoking signs. I also witnessed an argument that stopped just short of a brawl between a passenger and an attendant who was managing the snack cart. It looked like it might be a long night.
I love pekin duck was it enough for a proper meal?
Whoops, I missed this earlier, sorry! Yes, we were happy with the transfer only options we chose. We don't like to be bound by someone else's idea of a timeline. I know if you hire a private guide, you can ask them to speed up or slow down as needed. I prefer reading up on what I'm going to see ahead of time, and then wandering around at my own leisure once we get to where we're going.
Thanks!!We only have a limited time in Beijing. What did you like more? Temple of Heaven or Forbidden City? Our schedule right now only has us on the grounds of Temple of Heaven as we will arrive after the buildings are closed. Should we be spending more time there than Forbidden City so we can arrive earlier and get in the buildings?
If I had to pick one, for me, it would be Temple of Heaven. It had more variety of things to see and do with it being located in a park setting with lots of Beijingers hanging around, socializing and exercising, an addition to the beautiful ancient architecture.
I am not positive, but I think if you are there after hours, you will not be able to get into the part of the complex to see the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, even from the outside. I don't think you have to go into the buildings to enjoy them (we only peeked inside) but you'll at least want to be able to access the buildings from the outside.
@bfaber (not sure why it's not letting me quote you directly!)
Ah, OK. Well, if you have any questions, feel free to ask in this thread - I'll check back and reply.Hi Carrie- I'm Norma (NNE from YouTube) I can't PM you. I think I gotta "earn my ears" ;-) the option to "start a conversation" does not appear when I click on your name/profile. In Disboards, I'm HawaiianMom 521.
Glad you enjoyed it! Yes, there are certainly some places where you see the holdover from the one child policy and guest rooms meant for no more than 3 people. We only skimmed the surface of China and loved what we saw. Our visas are good for another 9 years - perhaps one day we'll go back!Just read through your fantastic trip report! My family of five did two weeks in Hangzhou/Shanghai last year at the end of March/beginning of April. We were limited to those places as my DH was also conducting business. We just loved being there, and reading your trip report just makes me want to go back and see more of China, especially your last destination. It’s tough, though, managing accommodations with a family of four or more, right?!? I am going to bookmark this TR, in case we are able to go back in a few years! You all did lots of fun things that I’d like to try too! Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed TR.
I’ve never understood the aversion to using them. I’d much rather squat low than try to hover over some nasty toilet seats anywhere! (As long as I’ve brought my own tp and remember to roll pant legs if you’re wearing them!)having to at some point utilize a squat potty