Kelly the Culinarian: China Recap: What We Saw

Thursday, June 21, 2012

China Recap: What We Saw

When we checked into the Red Wall Garden Inn last week, it was only 3 p.m. To avoid keeling over in exhaustion and screwing up our internal clocks, Kelly and I went for a walk in the neighborhood near the hotel. We stopped at a really cool farmer's market (at least, that's what we think it was). The produce all looked so fresh and foreign to us.

After we slept like rocks and had the best showers ever, we ventured out. Our hotel was near everything we wanted to see, so we started with visiting the Forbidden City, a Chinese palace complex that housed emperors for almost 500 years. It was 60 Yen to enter (a little less than $10) and another 40 Yen for an audio headset, which was worth it.

It was gorgeous, but not what we expected. It was completely jammed packed with people and hotter than hell. Plus, other than a few buildings with pottery and porcelain, you couldn't go inside any of these places.
After a little break from the heat, we headed over to Tienanmen Square. It's the largest of its kind in the world and the site of countless milestone moments in Chinese history.
The next day, a driver Kelly found who calls himself Johnny Yellow Car met us at our hotel. We paid $120 for the day to be taken to different sites of our choosing and have him wait for us. If you go this route, research your driver. It's possible to get lower rates, but then the driver will most likely make you stop at a silk factory or some other such tourist trap so he can get his kickback there.

First, we went to the Great Wall. What an amazing piece of human ingenuity. It's massive in scale and scope, spanning for as long as you can see. For 125 Yen, you get a ski lift to the beginning of the wall, then a toboggan ride back down when you're done.
Once we got to the top of the wall, Kelly and I climbed around for more than an hour. It was tough hiking there with some of the steps as big as we were. Thanks to Garmin, I know our elevation gain was more than 1,000 feet. But damn, you can't beat these views.

We also visited the Summer Palace, which was named a masterpiece of Chinese architecture and landscaping. It's massive, it's beautiful, and again, it's pretty crowded. We paid 30 Yen to enter and walk around at our own pace.
All in all, we saw a ton in China and didn't spend that much money. I'm glad we hired a driver rather than a tour guide because it gave us the freedom to travel at our own pace and see what we wanted.  We were also able to get an early start to avoid traffic and crowds (mostly). I was so happy to visit China and highly recommend it, if you get the chance. In the U.S., when we say something is old, it's like 500 years old. In China, you can visit buildings that were erected before the pilgrims every thought about colonizing America. Pretty neat. 


Unknown said...

So beautiful! It's my dream to one day visit the Great Wall, you are so lucky to have this amazing opportunity!

Unknown said...

So beautiful! It's my dream to one day visit the Great Wall, you are so lucky to have this amazing opportunity!

Kim said...

I am so happy you got to see so much! I love cable cars. I wonder if anyone tries to ride all them in the world. Is there a Guinness Book of World Records for that? Ha ha.