Read Part 1 here
Today I went on another tour, this time the city tour, and it left me shell-shocked.
The tour I went on today was the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, and the Summer Palace. All beautiful to see, but it was quite crowded. My tour guide was telling me that this was actually an okay crowd for this time of the year, compared to the summer or the Chinese public holidays which is the worst time to travel, it is so crowded that you can barely move. I think crowd is something I will just have to get use to in China, considering there’s 1 billion people here I think it’s only fair!
Temple of Heaven
It was a fairly standard tour day with the usual sight-seeing and picture taking, and just before we headed to our lunch destination we were in the mini van (20 mins drive to the restaurant) most of us started to doze off. I can feel my eyes getting heavier and I closed them for a minute only to be woken up with a loud bang! My heart stopped for a minute, as I flashed back to my South American trip where our bus driver ran over a person because he couldn’t see where he was driving in the middle of the night, in the rain. That was an experience I never wanted to relive.
Luckily the loud crash was the driver crashing into a pole, and it smashed the wind screen, no one was hurt but it goes to show how dangerous driving in China can be. Not only do people don’t obey the road laws, but OH&S of construction work leaving debris and equipment lying around on the road or close to the road for cars to inevitably cause some form of damage. Not to mention seat belts aren’t always available in taxis.
Aside from that minor accident, the day went quite smoothly, and I enjoyed visiting those places and learning about the Chinese history.
I’m slowly processing in a lot of factors about China, I can’t decide whether I like it or not, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I will happily come back here, why? Because it’s an experience.
Things I’ve learn about travelling to Beijing/China alone:
- Be aware of the spitting, it’s a cultural thing, don’t get offended by it
- There are fake money around, try to pay with the correct amount as sometimes they can give you change in fake currency because as a tourist you won’t know any better
- Most ATM will give you only 100Y notes, when you get this go to your hotel reception and get smaller change. Annoyingly enough no one accepts 100Y especially cabs.
- Use the subway and buy a rechargeable ticket, it’s only 3Y for the city circle trips, that’s less than $1!
- Carry tissue paper with you at all time, public rest rooms won’t always have toilet paper
- As a fellow Asian female travelling alone, local people think I’m Chinese a lot of the time and often approach me to speak to me in Chinese. Once they realised I’m not Chinese they almost become offended? Followed by yelling at me, and sometimes even leading to slamming doors in my face, and once at the night market stealing my dumplings out of my hands
- Their parks are beautiful and I enjoyed people watching there, especially with the elderly ladies doing a dance routine in the park
- Chinese food is good in China, except it can be a little too oily for my personal taste
- Cab drivers don’t turn on the meter during peak hour as they prefer a fixed price
- There are extreme weather conditions in China, in summer it can get up to 40 degrees plus humidity, and in winter can be minus 15 degrees and snow
- Internet is slow in China, and social media is not allowed, including Google and anything google related, e.g. Google maps and Gmail. VPN won’t always work
- Make sure you download the map of China before entering China
- Try and avoid the zoo or feeding the animals at tourist areas as there are poor animal rights in China. The less people pay money to the animal attractions the faster they will go out of business and hopefully release the animals back into the wild (one can dream)
- People beep for no reason? I don’t understand why, you can be all sitting in traffic with nowhere to move and they will start beeping? It won’t make the traffic go any faster…
- It’s ok to ask for a fork in restaurants, they do have it – I did! (I’m not ashamed to say I struggle with chopsticks)
Bye for now