Nǐhǎo from Beijing, China – Forbidden City Update

Upon arrival in a chilli 7 degrees celcius Beijing it was evident this was not going to be easy. We knew beforehand that English is as foreign here as Chinese is to us, but we didn’t expect it to be too difficult to communicate via polite head hods, pointing, miming and drawing…nothing works here. Not even speaking slowly and loudly like most foreigners.

We arrived at Beijing airport and had to grab a taxi to Sanlitun district, but the first taxi driver we got didn”t even understand the address let alone English, so I tried my best to communicate with him through noises and charades but nothing worked. He just stood there staring at me as I tried to ask him whether we should get out or not as I put our bags back on and pointed at other taxi drivers hoping he would ask them…no, just stared at us, didn’t move, didn’t react, just stared…so strange. So we just took our bags and walked back to the pick up point. Then another driver who could speak English said he would take us for 300yuan (30quid), 3 times the normal price…we politely refused…well kind of.

So there we were, stranded with no lift…luckily a driver knew where we wanted to go but couldn’t speak a word of English. He seemed like a nice guy and luckily he was, and only charged us 95yuan. So as you can tell, not a great start in Beijing…

Arriving at the hostel brightened our day slightly. It a pretty good hostel, good atmosphere, amazing music, and friendly happy staff. We checked in and went to our room where there was no heating…Apparently in Beijing (maybe mainland China) the government refuses to supply heating until it drops below 5 degrees celcius, so our room is baltic cold. Veronica and I both have colds and coughs due to Hong Kong and the flights up here. I  forgot to point out that in Hong Kong it is very very warm and humid outside yet all the restaurants are so so cold due to air con…I mean freezing cold, wind blowing, food cold after a minute of being set down…so you can imagine the mix of hot and humid, cold and dry took effect and gave us all colds. the weather in Beijing is nice though, and reminds us both of christmas where it is cold and dry and actually quite refreshing, but when you  go to bed its not cool to see your own breath (pun not intended) It was freezing at night, so we slept fully clothes, hoodies, hats, socks and 2 blankets…But it is getting warmer. MAry and Rose, no need to send out the electric blankets, we’re grand ;)

Anyway, we went to the Forbidden City yesterday and it was quite the sight. We were hounded by people trying to rip of us off left right and centre but we braved it and just ignored them. Years of going to Turkey, Eygpt, Greece and the likes have taught us a few things :) Ignore everyone. Once inside it was awesome. Some great photos. We luckily made it here near sun set between 3pm and 6pm so the lighting was gorgeous for photos. See below.

That night we went to Wangfunjing, a street stall that sold all sorts of weird and wonderful food, from prawns, silk worms and snake all on sticks…snake was okay, not what I expected, photos below. Quite the trip but again spoiled by ignorant Chinese vendors shouting to you the whole time…

Today we attempted to travel to the Great Wall of China ourselves without a tour guide or a bought trip. We walked the length of the Great Wall just looking for transportation to the Great Wall but never actually made it. No one here wants to help and everyone is too miserable to approach. It is like the whole city has attended the wake of their dead dog. No one is happy. So we are feeling a little bummed out about that. But nevertheless the people in the hostel are great and its clear that the younger generation is much more friendly and familiar with us whities. The older generation are much much more ignorant and rude, and completely stare at Veronica like she is from another planet. Blonde hair and white skin is so alien to most of these people. Its actually extremely irritating being stared at constantly, and not even inconspicuously but like right out staring face on, anaylising our genetics. It is discomforting but apparently not rude… apparently it is rude to enjoy your own privacy, so turning our backs on them is met with muttered comments and laughs. We wouldn’t mind people staring but when their faces depicts nothing but doom and gloom you can’t help but think these people feel contempt for us as tourists.

Anyway I digress. We are not going to let today and the people change or opinion of China. Its a beautiful country with a huge history, we just need to harden up, and get stuck into the crazy lifestyle and hustle and bustle. We always knew it wouldn’t always be peachy and it would have its down times, and I personally think bad experiences are just as important as the good ones, providing just as many stories and life experiences.

Anyway here are some photos as always :)
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Tomorrow, Great Wall attempt part 2, now with 100% extra tour guide and organisation.

Peace out!

  1. Loving all the blog posts. Photos are amazing and your descriptions are great. Sorry to hear Beijing not very welcoming but it’s all part of the story. Have fun!!!

    • Thanks alicia! glad you are enjoying it. its hectic trying to update as we go but i love it. probably just me showing off lol. hope all is well with you! thanks for all the comments!
      paul and veronica

  2. Hey you two, oh dear, challenging to say the least but it wouldn’t be an adventure then! Don’t mean to generalise either but you should have maybe spent a long afternoon in the asian market on the ormeau road to try and almost adapt to the Chinese! I can understand how it must be daunting, I leave there most times feeling abused and like a nuisance!! (Don’t I sound well travelled! The ormeau road! LOL)
    Anyway hope you both keep warm, and you enjoy the rest of the time in China, Take care, Ilkkan said hi. Love from us xx

  3. Hey P & V.

    Loving the blog posts! China sounds like trying to walk through the underground train crowds in London during rush hour, and thats in general the image of China all the time! it must be nuts. Anyhow, you will see many different sides to China i’m sure.

    As you said its the opposite to Japan, Thailand should be a happy medium then youll be pleased to know. You will see some difference in Bangkok and the northern territorys like Chang Mai, when you go! Look forward to hearing your Thailand experiences!

    Anyhow, its Halloween now – have your alien thing painted a nice cool dark red, with black highlighting the bones, spine etc. looks good :) Gonna be tough having one hand for the evening! Got some blood capsules for the mouth effect like you said. Look forward to it now. You should introduce the Chinese to Halloween and start a craze! Altho as they already stare at you constantly, perhaps not. Maybe dress up as a chinese person for the night. lol

    Enjoy the great wall, and rest of China time!
    And safe trip to the next destination, not sure if its Thailand yet? (If you want any tips – let me know. One big tip – At Airport – only take taxi with “Meter” on it” and make sure he switches it on when you get in – otherwise you’ll get ripped off- they love to rip off Westies- do this with all taxi’s in Bangkok)

    Enjoy the pair of ye! Still real jealous.

    Dan, Petrina and Caolán. x

    • Awesome man! send me photos of halloween to my email, or are they on facebook. cant access it here but will do in thailand. Was it a good halloween, where did you go?
      yeah thailand is the next trip. tomorrow in fact. can not wait. Yeah we have had a lot of people tell us about the taxis there. Should be fun. God I hate that worry though. I’ll end up not trusting anyone. Its like that in Beijing, if they can speak English, ignore them basically lol, as they are out to scam you. But from what i have heard the thais are great hospitable people too so no worries on that front.

      check the blog in a few days for the thailand chapter!

      take care man,
      love to petrina and caolan,
      Paul and Veronica

    • Yo dan, thanks for the comment. Awesome about the costume. Where did you end up? was it a good halloween? Im raging we missed it.
      yeah thailand is the next stop. can not wait. thanks for the advice. a lot of people have said that. should be fun, although I suck at the whole haggling thing, and i hate the worry of always being ripped off. its like that here in beijing, basically if anyone speaks english, do not trust them as they are out to scam foreigners, and are quite beliveable at times. But from what i have heard thais are nice people so should be grand.

      Send us photos of halloween. cant access facebook here but will do in thailand.
      love to petrina and caolan
      caht soon
      paul and veronica

  4. hi v and p – the pictures are great – mummy and daddy looking at them here – they are very amused, they are glad to see yous are still living, not happy that yous have the cold thou!!! happy to see yous are enjoing the bad as well as the good!!! food doesnt look good as mine – were just after a lovely roast dinner…. oh and an apple tart and cream paul!!!

    enjoy the rest of the adventure!!!

    sees yous in 5 weeks time!!

    mummy, daddy, andrea, phil and eva!! xxxxxxxgday

    • Hi Andy and Philbert ;) and mum and dad…
      We are missing sunday dinners here, and paul says he misses Mummy’s buns lol He says to tell her to bring her buttermilk with her to Oz cuz she has some amount of pies to make out there lol. Paul actually hasn’t stopped eating buns and stuff out here. Asia love their bakeries but not as good as mummy’s.
      Our colds are starting to clear up now thank god. Cant wait for warm sunny thailand tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing everyone in Australia. Its a shame you and philly can’t go. Send a pic of eva out with mummy for me. Hope she is feeling better, wee pet.

      Chat soon,
      V and P

  5. Hey darlin’s

    As you know we loving the blogs and pictures!!

    Weather sounds a tad cold, I am surprised that Veronica had no hot water bottles packed!!! She seemed so ready for all eventualities!! – or maybe you sent them on to Australia amongst Veronica’s half ton of toiletries.

    Anyway hope your colds are improving – get a few hot whislies down ya’s and oh yes “take 2 paracetemol” ha ha.

    Dying to see photos from the “great wall” that is if you still not on it!!
    Dad loves the blogs so much he always asking me if there are anymore? He sends his love.

    Lots of Love

    Ma & Da xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    love you both to bits

    • Thankfully it is getting warmer here but it is still artic at nights. Actually i forgot to add it to the blog, but veronica has discovered a new drink…beer. she actually enjoys tsingtao chinese beer. it is a lot lighter than most and not too bitter.:) Photos of the great wall are up now. internet here is so slow it took us more than a day to get this one update finished.
      Glad you both love the blog, we love the comments too :) makes it worth while. Hope all is cool back home. How is nana?

      Chat soon, :) xoxox

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