these are the posts tagged ‘peking’:

the great wall

naturally, we couldn’t go to beijing without walking on the great wall!

following a tip from dingle, i investigated the possibility of doing the stretch between jinshaling and simatai… 10kms on the wall sounds like a bit too much, but in the end we decided to just go for it instead of the manicured & ever-crowded wall in badaling. if we were going all the way north, might as well make it memorable!

so i searched around for ways to get there (about 3 hours from beijing), and stumbled upon jeff, a really nice couchsurfer in beijing who regularly organizes trips to people who want to go there. if you tell him you want to go there, he might know of other people going there on the same day – the driver’s fee is 450rmb for the car – the more people, the less you pay. meet our driver, mr. pei (13161847160):
mr. pei

mr. pei is a cheerful chap, knows a bit of english and is eager to use it! he dropped us in jinshaling and was waiting for us in simatai as promised – no driving the foreigners to fishy places to shop or eat, whatsoever.

the chinese say the wall is like a dragon stretching over the mountain tops, and i couldn’t come up with a better comparison if i tried.

the jinshaling-simatai trek takes about 4 hours. 4 hours of nearly vertical climbs…

…and descents…

… of watchtowers lined up…

…some of which in precarious conditions…

…with some caution signs…

…of neatly lined up steps…

…or caotic and hard to walk ones (or sometimes even on parallel paths to the wall)…

… 4 hours of feeling on top of the world…

… and then asking ourselves if we had the guts to actually finish this adventure…

but we made it, 4 hours, 4 bottles of water and 90rmbs later! (50+40 entrance fees for the different parts of the wall)! yay!

paulo took his gps with him and mapped the walk, and in the end it turns out the total is closer to 6km (from parking lot to parking lot). still, good exercise and magnificent views! if you’re in shape, i highly recommend it. :)

beijing food!

i bet you were all thinking i was going to talk about beijing duck… et non! i introduce you the donghuamen night market!
donghuamen night market

lots of variety!

i believe we were lost or looking for something else when we stumbled on the donghuamen street market… but we were instantly converted, and came back every day at dinner. food is one of the (main) reasons we travel, and so it was impossible to resist the temptation!

here’s how the tested snacks ranked, according to the “yummy or meh” classification:

crunchy yellow thing

crunchy dry yellow thing: meh. quite tasteless, and hard to eat with the mini-sticks they gave us!

meat in bread

stewed meat on bread bun: yummy! this was excellent! perfectly spiced & stewed, with lots of fresh herbs, and lots of sauce from the stew.


squid: meh, not that good. the sauce they covered it on was a bit too sweet for our liking…

fluffy fried balls with sugar

fried “banana” balls: yummy! but banana? these things tasted nothing like banana! a fluffy favourite nonetheless :)

meat thing on pancake wrap

meat on wrap: meh. not good.

pinnaple and giant strawberries

strawberry/pineapple stick: yummy yummy yummy! those strawberries were gigantic and thus a little lacking in flavor, but the pineapple is sooo tasty… it more than makes up for the rest. you can also have these in other combos (just strawberries, strawberry/melon, strawberry/kiwi…).

meat on a stick

meat kebab: yummy! although we didn’t quite get which kind of meat it was, but probably lamb. very tender.

there were also lots of strange things, like snakes, starfish, sea horses or crickets… they must be popular among foreigners, since all the vendors waved them at us… but i’m not that much of a fan.

donghuamen night market, beijing from ana campos on Vimeo.

that’s it! i would highly recommend this place if you want to taste a bit of everything, and i have to say my belly had absolutely no complaints (this being street food and all).

a little advice though: more than 20rmb is probably too much for anything here, so raise an eyebrow and be ready to speak out if they ask you for more than that. don’t be dumb.

the forbidden city

the forbidden city and tiananmen square are two of beijing’s obligatory stops, and we reserved an afternoon for them. it felt strange to actually stand there for the first time, knowing of the historical significance of the place. it felt more serious than just a place to snap a few photos.
tiananmen square

by then the clouds had mostly cleared and so the next few pictures are a mix of blue, red and gold. the forbidden city is a magnificent palace complex (the world’s largest) where china’s emperors used to live up until 1912. the buildings have curious names like east glorious gate, hall of supreme harmony, hall of preserving harmony, halls of literary glory and military eminence, palaces of heavenly purity and earthly tranquility…

people watching

i guess this is what comes to mind when many people think of china, the country’s picture postcard. it’s beautiful and grand, filled nonetheless with little (and big) details i loved:
wall detail

roof detail

wall detail

now i feel like go and watch the last emperor again…

temple of heaven

so… after 2 years in china, we finally decided to visit beijing last week! it was a good choice to wait for this long, i think. after the olympics, a lot of historic monuments were at their finest in years, and we were able to enjoy everything without the crowds – or the olympic paranoia. so, we hopped on a D train late last thursday, and off we went. friday morning the sky was cloudy and it had just rained, but there was lots of wind which cleared out the clouds in the afternoon (and after that we had nothing but blue skies in beijing. how lucky is that?)

our first stop was the temple of heaven (天坛 or tiāntán), @ tiantandongmen metro station, line 5. it consists of 3 main groups of buildings that were once used by the emperors to pray for good harvests, in a very big park.

temple of heaven

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests (祈年殿) is a magnificent triple-gabled circular building, 32 metres in diameter and 38 metres tall, built on three levels of marble stone base, where the Emperor prayed for good harvests. The building is completely wooden, with no nails.

temple of heaven
temple of heaven

The Imperial Vault of Heaven (皇穹宇) is a single-gabled circular building, built on a single level of marble stone base. It is located south of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and resembles it, but is smaller. It is surrounded by a smooth circular wall, the Echo Wall, that can transmit sounds over large distances. The Imperial Vault is connected to the Hall of Prayer by the Vermilion Steps Bridge, a 360 meter long raised walkway that slowly ascends from the Vault to the Hall of Prayer.

it's that great!


The Circular Mound Altar (圜丘坛) is the altar proper, located south of the Imperial Vault of Heaven. It is an empty circular platform on three levels of marble stones, where the Emperor prayed for favorable weather. It was built in 1530 by the Jiajing Emperor and rebuilt in 1740.


meanwhile, oblivious to the hordes of tourists around them, thousands of people spread around the park, singing, dancing, playing odd instruments, practicing kung fu and tai chi or just doing their thing. it was mighty impressive. i caught this choir practicing, their singing could be heard from far away:

amazing, isn’t it? i was stoked! excuse my lame video skills, and if you know which song they’re singing, speak up! i can only catch “ni shi shei?” but not much more… (our “taiwanese refugee” TC says it sounds communist though…)

et voilà!