How I ended up in China?
When I got a call from my friend Agne, I was just after my guiding course exam. She offered me to go to China! I needed some time to think, but then after half an hour I have called her and said Yes. I needed to flatter myself after the exam, and a trip is a best gift, right? China, Beijing, new continent, new land for me! A really another world that I didn’t hear much or cared much before. So, the tickets are booked for the end of June, so now we can start to check the weather, visa, prices in there and other important stuff. I honestly offer you to do that Before booking 🙂 even though for us it went all really well. So visa is around 100 Eur, weather is really “summerish” – hot and humid, but we can survive. But it is better not to do during the middle of the summer as it might be as hot as 40 degrees and in Beijing there are no places to swim so it is pretty difficult to survive with this heat and stay happy all day.
Anxiety before the trip
When the trip was coming I was getting more and more nervous. How it will be in there? Language? People? Everything! It is another part of the world. But as I can say now – You will be stressed until you get there. All street names are in English (after Olympics), so it is difficult to get lost, but of course it is better to have a plan what do you want to see and where to go and a map where are you. A good reason for that is that there is no Google or Facebook or things that belongs to Google. So you better get a VPN ( Virtual private network), an app, with which you can post as many pictures on Facebook as you like. So with visa in the passport, plans in the heads and backpacks, camera and smile on the face – we go to China.
First impressions are most important
First impression? There are no white people. Not even in the airport. But everything is written in English too, so we will not get lost. Waiting for the first train to the city. Trying to rest swollen feet after 10 h flight. Airport express is a perfect choice to reach the city center, or actually Dongdzimen bus station – it is cheap (25 Juan –around 3 Eur) and fast (40 mins). Even though taxi are not expensive but you really do not want to get into morning traffic in Beijing. So after 50 mins we reach our hotel, and even though it is 7 am we are asking for a room and to our surprise – we get it. It is not cleaned yet but it is fine with us. Just, in Europe no one would show you not cleaned room, and especially would not clean it when you are in the room. After a long nap we decide to go to the city. We stay next to the temple of Heaven so we decide to go there. First challenge – how to cross the street? When there are 4 line street one way and some another way, and even we have a green light cars do not stop. So you just wait when the big crowd of people will go and you go with them and hope for the best. After few times we got used to it and it wasn’t so bad, but the first time we will remember. For sure. So the first temple we saw was the Temple of Heaven. Choose carefully which one you will see first, cause later you will see many similar one to your first. Wonderful roofs, small figures on the sides, many colors. Normally you can not go inside the temple so you have to make yours way though the crowd of photographers to see what is inside.
So the first day ended up really calm. We were happy to survive the street crossing, amazed by temple and not too tired after the heat as it was the only cooler day – perfect to begin with.
That feeling of being famous
We slept pretty bad during the first night – you know, the time difference is 5 h, so basically you go to sleep at 7 pm and wake up at 2 am, so in the morning you feel like a car hit you while you were sleeping. But this is China – you get up and go. The first place was a Tiananmen square (Gate of Heavenly Peace) – the main square in which you can find a mausoleum of Mao Dzedung, his portrait and many people. He was a communist party leader for many years. So at least for us, a post- soviet country citizens, we felt like we are in the past. Mao picture is not only in the main square, most people houses but also on the Chinese money – Juan.
Ok, so we go to the square, of course before that we have to pass through security – same as going to subway. So as we are in a square of course we want to take some pictures, but after our first selfie a girl comes and asks for a picture with us. We are kind of surprised but of course, we say yes. And what do you think? After one picture we see more people coming to ask for a picture with two European blond girls. When you look around you realize why this happens – there are no more white people. OK, maybe 2 more. And there is a big chance that we were the first blond, blue eyed girls for some people, as they come from small towns to the capital for the first time. So it is kind of normal to be looking at us as we are aliens and to take pictures with us, they are saying hi, even though not many people speak English. So in these kind of places you really start to feel like an alien. After few minutes posing to Chinese, we look at each other and just run away from them. You know, it is difficult to be a star – everyone looks where are you going, what are you eating and so on. Difficult life, huh? ;D
So this is it for now. In the second part you will find some information about the most important places of interest in Beijing, Chinese cuisine and other fun facts.