Saturday, March 7, 2015

72 hours in Beijing!

Hello everyone!

The next post in our vacation series is about Beijing!

Our stay in Beijing,China was 3 days of amazing sites, food, and great memories! Instead of writing a day by day diary, we will just talk about the sites we saw instead!

Jade Factory- After being dragged through both the Amethyst Factory and Ginseng Center in Korea during our tours, we expected to be pressured into buying lots of jade at the Jade factory. Surprisingly enough, we got a nice (and more informative) presentation about Jade and then were given time to look through the GIANT Jade showroom. This place was humongous and we were basically the only tour group there! We didn’t feel nearly as pressured to buy anything (though we did!) and it was really fun to see all the jewelry, statues, and other art pieces made out of Jade!

They called this a "happy family ball." So we bought one! :)

The Sacred Path to the Ming Tombs: We had no prior knowledge on what this was before so it was nice to learn about. You can read more about what it is here (by people who actually know way more than we do! When we got there we saw that it was a it’s a long path with many statues of ancient emperors and of sacred animals. It was a beautiful morning and it was fun to walk along the path taking photos with the many statues. When we got to the end, our driver picked us up and took us to the Ming tomb. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see the actual tomb because the building you must climb up to get a view was under construction that day. It was fine though and we were able to leave for lunch so we could get the the Great Wall earlier.

The Great Wall- After visiting the Ming Tomb along the Walk to Heaven, we stopped for lunch for what our guide called, “tourist” chinese food. The food was good and similar to chinese food in the US. It hit the spot and we were ready for the Great Wall!

On the ride to the Badaling section of the wall we got glimpses of the wall running along the mountains. Once we arrived we had to walk up a path to the entrance. It was a chilly, yet clear and beautiful day outside. Once our guide checked us in, we got to explore on our own for a couple hours. The Great Wall was stunning in how it twisted and cut through the mountains. Walking along the wall was a lot of fun, but does involve lots of randomly sized steps and steep inclines, so we had to watch our step. Our couple hour photo shoot seemed to go by so quickly. We were also very thankful that there weren’t too many people! We heard that in the summer, there are so many people that you can barely even see the part of the wall your walking on! Crazy! It was such a nice day and we really enjoyed seeing this amazing site! Definitely a highlight of our trip!

First glimpse of the Great Wall!

One of our favorite family photos!


Such a beautiful day! 
We did it! 

So happy!

The Water Cube and Birds Nest-On our way to dinner we were able to to stop by the Water Cube and Birds nest from the 2008 Beijing Olympics for photos! It was really cool seeing them in person since we watched it all on TV during the Olympics! Apparently the Water Cube now has a water park inside for kids!

Kung Fu Show - For our evening entertainment after a long day, we went to a Kung Foo Show! The outside of the Theatre was covered in red lights, so it was called the “Red Thater”! Inside they had a little gift shop and concessions (they will even pop microwave popcorn for you!). The show was well done and the performers were young monks who did all kinds of stunts and mixed martial arts with dancing. It was interesting to see this part of the culture and they did a great job!
The Red Theater

The young monk who was part of the story of the show!

Tiananmen Square- We were looking forward to seeing the Tiananmen square after seeing it so many times in the history books in school! It was amazing to stand there in the middle of it! We took many photos of the parliament buildings and the giant photo of Mao hanging on the red wall. There were some military men standing guard and of course many groups of tourists around.

Chinese Parliament building! 

The Forbidden City- We didn’t know much about the Forbidden city, but we really had no idea just how HUGE it was! There were 5 large "gates” before entering the Forbidden city. So just when you thought you were inside….you’d see another gate ahead! It took a little extra time to make it through the city as we stopped a lot for photos and lots of information from our tour guide. We were a little overloaded with information as there’s so much to learn about this amazing place, but it was a great experience to be there!

We made it inside! 

The Beijing Zoo- I (Val) was very much looking forward to this part of the tour as I love animals. The main attraction at this zoo was the Giant Pandas. This was really the only reason we were going and we couldn’t wait. The zoo (as most of the attractions we had been going to) was pretty empty. It was nice because we got a front row view of the pandas! The pandas were adorable and very fat! They mostly were sitting and eating (they eat about 20-40 pounds of Bamboo a day!) or sleeping. We learned that Pandas like solitude and can’t really live together as they can be aggressive with each other. So each of the pandas we saw were in their own habitat. It was so cool to see this beautiful animals! After the pandas we stopped by to look at the Brown Bears before leaving (it was a quick zoo trip!). There was momma bear and 5 baby bears! The baby bears were so cute and very active. They all were playing and wrestling with each other! We were very entertained by that!

Beijing Duck Dinner- For dinner that night we decided to have a special Beijing Duck dinner downtown! We were able to do some shopping downtown before dinner though, which was interesting as we got to barter for the first time in a long time. 

Our tour guide recommended a place called DaDong. It was a very nice restaurant! They cooked the ducks in a open fire place with applewood. The ducks are inspected by a team before they are taken to your table and carved by a chef in front of you! The duck was very delicious! The skin was crispy and the meat was tender and juicy! It was served with a variety of condiments and we also ordered some fried rice and a caesar salad to enjoy with it (I know caesar salad….not very Chinese, but it was good!). We even got a bottle of champagne to cheers! It was a wonderful dinner!

The menu was a giant book! 

Food Carts-After dinner we took a walk through downtown near the food carts on the way to the taxi. This was a very interesting experience. The food carts had a variety of fresh fruit, noodles, and of course, seafood and bugs! The most unusual was the tarantula and snakes! There was also octopus on a stick, grasshoppers, and scorpions! Needless to say we didn’t have any extra snacks that night! ;)

Tarantula anyone?

Summer Palace-The last day of our tour we started off by visiting the Summer Palace (quite literally, the palace the Emperor would live in during the summer!). It was so beautiful as there was a man made lake on the property that was actually frozen! People were even ice sledding on it! The palace was beautiful and we walked along the lake under a covered path taking in the pretty sites! It was very cold and windy that morning but the sun was out and we were thankful for that!

This boat is made of marble!
It was built because the king said "Build me a ship that won't sink!"  It may not sink, but I don't think it's sailing away anytime soon! ;)

Can you find us? ;) 

Gorgeous, but very cold day! 

Pearl Factory- That day we went to the pearl factory, which was not as informative as the Jade Factory, but still good! Pearls are one of my favorite kinds of jewelry so that was a very fun to explore! There were so many different cases of pearl jewelry to look at! My sweet Tyler was so kind and even bought me a beautiful pearl necklace to match my pearl earrings I have! My friend Alina was right’s a dangerous place to go with so many pearls available for purchase! ;)

Lots of pearls!

Dumplings-For our last lunch in  Beijing, we went to Din Tai Fung, a famous dumpling restaurant. Tyler’s family has been there before in the US and they love it, so we decided to try it out in China! We ordered lots of dumplings and they all were delicious! Our guide Leif even ate with us! We can’t wait to go back to that restaurant again!

Happy dumpling! 

After lunch it was time to head back to the airport and said goodbye to our amazing tour guide, Leif! It was such a fun 72 hours in Beijing and we really loved seeing everything we could in such a short time! The tour we booked was wonderful and everything went smoothly (which we were really grateful for!). We definitely recommend traveling to Beijing! You won’t be disappointed! :D

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