A couple of my readers have asked me to write a post about my travels in China after seeing some shots on my Instagram (you can follow me here) I thought about turning it into a “Adventures In:” series as I’m always hot on photography whenever I go to somewhere new, this will be the first edition.
We left on Friday the 31st of March, meeting at 4am before driving to Heathrow Airport. We flew one hour (by AirFrance) to Paris before connecting to Beijing. I think it took about 11 hours 20 minutes in total including both flights – my first ever long haul journey. (China is 7 hours ahead of London UK)
When we landed in Beijing a coach took us to the Great Wall, I’ll never forget how humid it was. A lot of us protested about there being “no time” to even go back to the hotel and change or shower, even though we had been travelling all day. (Climbing up one of the seven wonders of the world in a green Puma tracksuit wasn’t one of my most fashionable moments!!)
We climbed to the first tower and the views were incredible – you never fully appreciate how high it is when you see it filmed on the telly. Some of the steps are really steep and narrow so you have to watch your footing as well as other people passing.
We stayed at the Phoenix Suyuan Hotel:
Our first meal was in a shopping mall which was pretty bizarre (looked more like a canteen then a restaurant) The bathroom experience wasn’t great either. It was located on the ground floor and there was only one cubicle which had a proper toilet in it, the others were holes in the ground. A few girls I was with were absolutely horrified but I had seen An Idiot Abroad with Karl Pilkington so I knew what to expect!! Throughout my stay I actually preferred the hole version (it’s meant to be a lot better for us anyway) however the mall bathroom attendant could’ve wiped the shit off the walls!!
That evening we went to a Night Market which was a cool way to practice my night photography. There was also lots of dancing and pretty lights.
While we were in Beijing we also visited Tiananmen Square, originally the main entrance to the imperial palace in Ming and Qing dynasties which you can walk through, known as The Forbidden City. I later learned about the 1989 protests that happened in the square (this is all very hush hush and taboo) where the military open fired on thousands of peaceful, unarmed protesters and onlookers.
The Temple of Heaven was one of my favourite places to visit. Located in Southern Beijing, it was built in 1420 and served as a place where emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties offered sacrifices to heaven, prayed for rain and a good harvest. A lot of the locals seemed to use this place as a meeting point and they also played games and did tai chi in the grounds.
We had a meal out in a restaurant every lunch and dinner time (breakfast was served at the hotel) Let’s just say that it’s nothing like the Chinese we have over here in the UK. It’s sooo clean and actually seems healthy, it’s not all just covered in some sweet sauce that’s for sure. Chinese food is absolutely my fave but even I was beginning to become tired of having it twice a day. I think we all went a bit nuts when they served fries one evening (a rarity)
One lunch time we visited the Hutongs, which means narrow alley or street formed by traditional courtyard residences. We went on a Rickshaw to get to a family who was going to be serving a meal to us. Most of us sat round a huge table in their living room and the others sat in their courtyard garden outside. They don’t have any plumbing in their homes so they all share toilet facilities down the street. After lunch we used their local block which just had the squat toilets but there weren’t any doors!! There was a local woman sat over one playing a game on her phone when I walked in!
We also of course visited the Birds Nest (you can’t go to Beijing and not see it) where they hosted the Olympic Games in 2008.
My stay in China didn’t end there. We also went to Xi’an but I will talk about this in another post. Expect photos from Buddhist Temples and the Terracotta Army!
Look out for Adventures In | Xi’an, China.