East Asia Travel Journals

China – Beijing


September 2018
We visited Beijing for a few days on the way back from Mongolia. While we have separated our journal, each stands alone and they are part of one journey.

Day 9 – Ulaan Baatar to Beijing
We fight our way through the UB traffic (1.5m people), jump on a jet and then fight our way through the Beijing traffic (22m people), the roads are full of locally made Audi, Benz, BMW and Lexus. From the airport’s androgynous voiceover to the busyness, scale and wealth of this city – ‘intimidating’ is the word that comes to mind especially after coming from the simple life on the remote steppes of Mongolia.
Then suddenly we are in a rickshaw being peddled around the ‘Hutongs’ in the old section of the city, scale and community have returned and although we are only travellers peering through the looking-glass we are somehow reassured. And then once more we are thrust back into the melee, only to gaze down on the chaos from our 15th floor hotel eyrie. China provides us with a digital detox, for while there is abundant internet it has blocked FB and most social media.

Day 10 – The Great Wall
About 100 kms north of Beijing is a restored section of China’s most iconic symbol – The Great Wall. We leave the city behind and drive through kilometres of orchards and climb through picturesque rural hills and mountains. Like most Chinese tourist destinations, The Wall’s facilities are well organised and clean. While most of the visitors are from out-of-town there is a sprinkling of westerners. Before we reach the wall, we must walk, catch a cable car which offers us a closer glimpse and then like everyone else- ‘we walk the wall’ stopping every so often to admire this remarkable testament to ancient engineering. It’s busy, but not crowded and we’re even able to find a snow jar as well as a few quiet moments here.

Day 11 – Beijing Palaces and Temples
It’s Sunday and the locals like to get out and about. A significant number have decided to join us on our small group tour to Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and Summer Palace. While they are places of remarkable social and historical importance and worthy of a visit, their significance and poignancy is somewhat lost in a crowd intent of taking selfies. I take the opportunity to add to my collection of selfies. https://johnandcathy.com.au/2018/07/01/the-selfie-collection/
Tomorrow we fly back to Bali so thank you Beijing for giving us a glimpse of your staggering scale and miraculous transformation into a huge contemporary city.






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