The Great Beijing

The Great Wall of China has always been among my “must-see” places in the world. It was in fact on the top of my list of dream destinations in my old blog back in 2009. I’ve always been interested in historic structures that stand the test of time and have a great story behind it. And it being part of the 7 Wonders of the (Medieval) World, the old soul in me just had to see it.

So for 2013, this was the set destination for me and Ken and our favorite traveling buddies, our college best buds Cams and Maits. Our group is called Cumbre de Estupendo which was our group name back in a class and it stuck until now haha! It means the “Super Summit” or “Marvelously at the Top” in Spanish. So it was only fitting that we see together for the first time, the grandest, highest and most historic Wall of China.

I booked our flights in a travel expo sale which cost us about Php 15,000 per head. We flew via PAL from Manila direct to Beijing then our exit point was at Shanghai flying direct back to Manila. The flight was just about 4 and a half hours and we arrived before 12 noon. Our trip was during November so it was pretty cold. And since Beijing is still quite very traditionally Chinese and we only had about 1 and a half days to sightsee, we hired a tour guide to pick us up in the airport and go with us for those days. Upon arrival, he drove us straight to our hotel which is Novotel Beijing Xin Qiao. It was a nice hotel and reasonably priced. We just literally checked-in to leave our bags, had a quick lunch and then we were off to sightsee. Our tour guide, Jason, was very efficient. We had a van service from the airport to our tours in Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City, to dinner and back to the hotel. So it was very convenient for us since we were tired from our early flight.

Beijing as everybody knows is quite polluted. We were a little paranoid that we even brought masks with us to trip. But since it was Autumn when we went, the cold breeze made it bearable. We didn’t even had to use our masks anymore. But it was pretty hazy and foggy as seen here in our photos.

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Tiananmen Square

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Mao Tse Tung

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Forbidden Palace

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The Emperor’s path going to the Forbidden Palace. It was only him who can walk here that time.

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Our tour guide, Jason, took us to this quaint local restaurant for dinner.

The highlight of our Beijing trip was of course our visit to The Great Wall on our 2nd day! We left pretty early in the morning. Our tour guide picked us up in our van and we drove for about 2 hours to Mutianyu, the area of the Wall that was recommended to us by my good friend Rg, who used to live in Beijing. To all those who haven’t visited The Great Wall yet, you MUST go to this part of the Wall! It was such an experience! It’s not so crowded and you go up  via an old rickety cable car. This was a bit scary for me as imagine the height of where the actual Wall was built but the view made it very much worth it! 🙂

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Mutianyu, Great Wall

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The cable car will bring you up up up to the Wall! Here are Cams and Maits in front of us.

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Taking photos to distract myself from looking down.

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Our first glimpse of The Great Wall of China on the cable car high above the trees.

I have fear of heights so this was a challenge and a great conquest of mine. One mustn’t look down when you’re in the cable car. But that wasn’t a problem at all since the view of the Wall far ahead distracts you from the height and the rickety chair. When we got to the top, the view of and from The Great Wall are just so beautiful. There are towers that go up higher and are steeper so scaredy-cat me had to walk slowly on these parts. What I loved most was this side of The Great Wall was not as crowded so it feels like we have our own private nook in this glorious historic place!

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Conquering Great Wall with Great Friends!

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The Great Wall has always been one of my dream places to see with Ken ever since we were in college.

To get down from The Great Wall you have to ride the toboggan which was so much FUN! A toboggan is a sled for one person that you have to  manually drive going down. My experience was quite funny. Since the ride down was a little steep, and I didn’t trust the vehicle (it was old like the cable car and The Great Wall hehe), I drove slowly and caused a bit of traffic to the other tourists behind me :p It was actually meant to be a fast thrilling ride all the way down. So for those who haven’t visited The Great Wall yet, you have to go to Mutianyu for the best experience! 🙂

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Toboggan ride down.

After this, we went straight to the Summer Palace. It was a nice place with a pretty scenery and the cold weather even made it lovelier!

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Sunset in the Summer Palace.

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Love and a tree.

Catch me if you can! Trying out camera tricks.

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Pretty little vintage garden and swamp in the Summer Palace. Love that it looks like an antique painting!

Our 2 days in Beijing (before moving on to Shanghai) was just right as all we really wanted to see were the main sights. For me, this is a place one should visit at least once primarily for the Great Wall. This trip in sum was just perfect. We were with great friends making the whole adventure fun. It was Autumn so it was cold, the trees are a lovely color, the haze are less bothersome and the tours more enjoyable. To end, here’s a short vine of our trip 🙂

By the way, for those who need a great tour guide in Beijing, email Jason at jasonguide@gmail.com! Great Wall of China check! On to the other Wonders of the World! 🙂

 *Follow me on Instagram @ellenjoyco or drop a note at hello@ellenjoy.co! 🙂

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