<Side note: These posts are from a trip I made in 2012 and lived in a gorgeous city named Chengdu for 5 months. Nevertheless, its memories are fresh and warm in my mind and I’d love to share them with you. >
After a lot of last minute on the spot planning during the Chinese New year holidays, with a person who was almost a stranger, I managed to get to Beijing. My only request from the city was not to freeze me to death.
The flight had a breathtaking view of the mountain range (presumed Qingling Mountains). The sight was like mounds of dark chocolate sauce on white chocolate (Ok. Maybe I was craving some chocolate). In the shuttle service from the flight to the airport gate, I casually gave up my seat to an older lady with some luggage after explaining to her with hand gestures. Just as I turn back, I see quite a few people smiling and a lovely old man giving me a wide grin and a thumbs-up sign. Who says you need language.
It was an experience of firsts taking a train within the airport to take us out of it, only to reach out to a taxi stand where finally the experience of haggling with auto-drivers in Bangalore came to my rescue. The first evening as we went searching for dinner, interestingly what immediately made us both feel at home was the ChengDu restaurant we saw! It’s amazing how quickly we can change our definition of home.
And of course, when in Beijing, we had to go to the Great Wall. After some confusion about the bus routes, we entered the bus and took our seats as I promised myself to enjoy my first long bus ride in China. A minute later, I promptly fell asleep only to be woken up by my friend to the view of the Wall itself. 🙂 I realised that any trace of moisturiser from my face was already gone and the day would have me trying to save my very skin from falling off my face in the cold.
We got off and made our way to the start of the climb. I expected steps but the steep tiles on a part of the climb were a surprise. An even bigger surprise was a lady wearing high heels and managing a child making the climb casually! We joined the swarm of people to see what the whole deal about the wall was. After some amount of walking, quite a few moments of me getting literally blown away by the wind, and a lot of numbness in the hands and face, we took the cable car on the way back. So we did enjoy a lovely view of the dry region with the wispy foliage on our way down.
I was delighted by the Bactrian camel outside and agreed to the overly charged price to take a picture with it but it seemed so worth it. It’s a gorgeous animal with amazingly soft fur though in the picture I do look like I’m lost in its fur.
After a quick meal of (ahem) egg fried rice at the restaurant nearby, we headed off to the Great Wall Museum which is a more leisurely way to enjoy the great wall and its stories. My favourite of the exhibits has got to be the model of the army or maybe it was just because I’ve really been looking forward to seeing the Qin Terracotta Army in China for a long time.
Just seeing the Beijing Subway map, our next impromptu destination was chosen to be YongHeGong Lama Temple. However, on reaching the station and following the crowd, we saw a mela was on, presumably for the new year. The colours and the food and the items on sale were an absolute treat. We could barely stop ourselves from picking up small knick knacks from every stall we passed by. There were games, soft toys, a variety of food, masks and art work of all types.
The last pit stop was the CCTV tower. After multiple attempts at reaching the right station (we got off at each one and were told it was the wrong one, despite having checked online), we did get there and the building was impressive. However, we walked all around it in a pradakshina of sorts for quite a huge distance and still didn’t find it’s entrance. So sadly we finally gave up after just enjoying images of the revolving restaurant on the 18th floor in our minds.
Up next : Mysore and Mandya – Unexpected dancing and feathered friends