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Our first destination in China was the capital itself – Beijing – an awesome welcome to an awesome country. We spent there 7 days, saw amazing sights, said hi to Mao, visited tens of temples, ate some great and some weird food, stayed in 2 different hostels and had our first Couchsurfing experience. This post will be all about that.

IMG_1187We plan to dedicate a separate article on food in China, but because it is such a big part of our experience here, we need to tell you some of it already now! We have seen dog on menus. We ate worms. We treated ourselves to a crispy Peking duck. Twice. The food we got in the smallest stands on a street was the best. We had marinated eggs. Had grilled oysters with lots of garlic. We had Kung-pao in a few places in Europe, but it didn’t taste like any of the three different ones we ate here. The ones here are full of dried chillies and are great! And we can and will go on!

DSC_0018Beijing  (chinese for ‘north capital’) has a few must-sees – the places you probably think of when thinking about visiting China. The first one we visited was Tien an’men square or the Square of Heavenly Peace. It is a square impressive mostly because of its size we concluded. It is surrounded by a few similarly huge buildings: e.g. national museum, Zhengyangmen gate, the Gate of Heavenly Peace leading to the forbidden city with Mao’s face guarding it and a cool public toilet house. DSC_0021The square itself is housing Mao’s mausoleum which is made freely available for all to bring flowers, say thank yous, or judge his ‘achievements’ in foreign language. The sight is even less impressive than Lenin’s in Moscow and so unless you are a big fan, it is not worth the hassle of obligatory storing your cameras in a cloakroom across the road.

IMG_0982For ages closed to the public, the Forbidden City is one of the top sights of Beijing. Once home to emperors and the place were China was ruled from, the city is a massive complex of gates, halls, temples and gardens, part of which are now available for all to stroll through. The Forbidden City is surrounded by walls and water canals with the only entry gate placed on its southern end. We brought some snacks with us so after a few hours we could enjoy a picnic in the beautiful gardens that witnessed concubines practising playing their musical instruments (as we just made up).

IMG_0932Just off the northern gate of the Forbidden City, across the road, Jingshan park is a place to visit twice. Once after your Forbidden City tour – to see it all from the top of the park’s temple. And second time early morning to experience (watch or even take part in) elderly people doing their excercise, dancing, practicing tai-chi or kicking ass in ‘chinese football’. We unfortunately missed the morning fun, but this is how the guys stared at the 60-year-olds keeping the ‘football’ (more like a large badminton shuttle with a few small round pieces of metal at the bottom; example video here) up without hitting ground for a good while.

DSC_0385The Summer Palace situated in a beautiful scenery on a lake is another sight ranked high up on the travellers’ list. Walking around the pavillions, having a lunch break on a bench at the lake and taking a boat to the southern island was a wonderful way how to spend one of the few sunny days we had in Beijing.

DSC_0204Beijing is full of amazing sights, the big ones are obvious, but also just discovering hidden temples and courtyards in the middle of the traditional ‘hutongs’ is a lovely way how to get to see the city life. Hutongs are small streets with traditional chinese houses and courtyards. Unfortunately, similarly to the city walls, many of them were were destroyed as communism desired to build wide roads and blocks of flats instead. A few that survived are also accessible by tricycles (kind of a rickshaw) or by bike that is a popular mode of transport in Beijing.

IMG_1078It is from Beijing, where one can take a trip to The Great Wall, as we also did. After our efforts to find the most cost efficient and the least touristy way, we ended up taking a small organised tour through the Downtown Backpackers hostel. 16 of us were dropped at a quiet part of the wall in Jinshanling after 2 hours minibus drive. Our goal was to walk 6km to reach Samatai part of the wall were the driver would pick us up. We highly recommend this trip as we really enjoyed the scenery, parts of the wall that were more challenging to climb and also we enjoyed the wall almost for ourselves only. On our way we met only a few turists and a couple of chinese ladies with backpacks offering poscards, T-shirts and other wall memorabilia. Some parts of the wall here can get really steep or have no support so no flip-flops please!

Apart from its sights and food, Beijing impressed us with its organisation, especially when it comes to public transport. Every metro station has a really good plan of exits as well as clear directions for transfers. Before entering each station there is a checkpoint where they x-ray all bags. Tickets are easy to get in automated machines or, as we did, right at the window and they cost 2 yuan per trip. At the platform each door access is marked with indicators way out and way in, although we noticed people do not give much importance to these. We must say, that people however queue while waiting for the train. Each station has a few people helping organising the passengers flow by advicing which part of the platform they should move to not to create crowds or they help passengers to fit in a wagon with a push. Bus stations, unlike the metro system, have only chinese information, but are also well organised. Each bus number has its own queue in different parts of the bus stop and the driver then stops accordingly.

IMG_1072In Beijing we stayed in 2 differrent hostels which we found ok, but not great (so no references here).  In between we also had our first Couchsurfing experience. It wasn’t what we expected and we only stayed one night, however we still like the concept and will try further. In the end it was through Couchsurfing that we met Gina – a crazy and lovely Chinese girl, weddings ‘videographer’ – that we hung out with for 2 evenings. On our first night, she took us to the Nan Luo Gu Xiang street where we enjoyed marinated eggs, awesome fish and chilly kun-pao and had a drink called One night in Beijing. For our last dinner she took us to a great Beijing duck restaurant were we enjoyed a fiesta of chinese delicacies. Discussing all kinds of fun stuff we closed out the evening in a tiny local restaurant with a round of beer and strong chinese alcohol for 7 people for 40 yuan (£4). Good times!

PotvorkyWe really enjoyed Beijing for its lovely autumn atmosphere, morning and night markets, street food, beautiful historical sights, people enjoying the parks, red lanterns, traditional meeting modern, good public transport and clean streets! We came to this city with expectations that were highly exceeded and are looking forward to visit again.

All the Beijing pictures that we found the most interesting to share are here. The images from our Great Wall trip are here.

Oh! And there is a lot of tiny cars!

photo 2 photo 1

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Nasim prvym cielom v Cine bolo samotne hlavne mesto – Peking – vyborny uvod do skvelej krajiny. Stravili sme tam 7 dni, videli uzasne pamatihodnosti, pozdravili Maa, navtivili chramy, jedli same vynikajuce no i zvlastne jedla, byvali v dvoch hosteloch a zazili i prvu skusenost s Couchsurfingom. A tom vsetko bude tento clanok.

Planujeme venovat separatny clanok cinskemu jedlu, ale pretoze prave jedlo je sucastou nasich zazitkov, musime o nom nieco napisat uz teraz! Na jedalnych listkoch sme videli psikov. Jedli sme larvy. Uzivali sme si chrumkavu svetoznamu chrumkavu pekingsku kacku. Dvakrat. Jedlo, ktore sme si kupili na ulici v malych poulicnych stankoch bolo to naj! Mali sme nakladane prepelicie vajicka. Dali sme si grilovane ustrice s kopou cesnaku. Zistili sme, ze europske Kun-Pao nema na to cinske ani zdaleka. Tie, co sme ochutnali tu boli plne susenych cili papriciek a boli skvele. A mohli by sme pokracovat, ale nechame na neskor, ked uz budeme mat ochutnaneho viac.

Peking  (Bei-jing – cinsky ‘severne hlavne mesto’) ma niekolko ‘povinnych’ zastavok a su to miesta, ktore isto poznate z dokumentov. Prve, ktore sme navstivili v nas prvy den je Namestie Nebeskeho Pokoja – Tien an’men. Je to namestie predovsetkym zaujimave kvoli svojej velkosti, ako sme usudili. Je obklopene niekolkymi podobne obrovskymi budovami: napr. Zhengyangmen brana, narodne muzeum, Brana Nebeskeho pokoja veduca do Zakazaneho Mesta s portretom Maa, ktory drzi straz, a tiez budova verejnych zachodov stoji za zmienku. Na samotnom namesti stoji mauzoleum Maa ktore je zdarma verejne pristupne pre tych, co chcu priniest kvety, podakovat vodcovi ci utrusit par kritickych poznamok o znamom vodcovi v cudzom jazyku. Mauzoleum je dokonca menej zaujimave nez to Leninovo v Moskve, takze, ak nie ste vernym fanusikom, povinne odkladanie fotakov a tasiek v uschovni na druhej strane cesty ani nestoji za to.

Dlhu dobu uzatvorene pre verejnost Zakazane Mesto je dalsou z top pametihodnosti Pekingu. Kedysi domovom vladcov a miestom, kde padali rozhodnutia a osudoch Ciny, toto mesto je ohromny komplex bran, sieni, chramov, domov a zahrad, ktoreho casti su dnes verejne pristupne. Zakazane Mesto je obklopene vysokymi murmi a vodnym kanalom s niekolkymi branami, ale len jednym vchodom umiestnenym na juznej casti muru. My sme si na dlhu prehliadku so sebou vzali niekolko dobrotiek a tak sme si po par hodinach mohli urobit piknik v krasnych zahradach, ktore kedysi boli miestom, kde konkubiny cvicili hru na svojich hudobnych nastrojoch (aspon to si predstavujeme my).

Kusok od severnej brany Zakazaneho Mesta, len cez cestu, sa nachadza Jingshan park – miesto, ktore je teba navstivit dvakrat. Raz na zaver prehliadky Zakazaneho Mesta – zhliadnut vsetko, co ste presli zhora z chramu na kopci. A druhykrat skoro rano – vidiet penzistov ako cvicia, tancuju, robia tai-ci alebo exceluju v ‘cinskom fotbale’ (ako taky ‘fotbal’ vyzera sa pozrite napriklad tu). My sme bohuzial nestihli tuto rannu podivanu, ale zato sme mali moznost cumiet, ked sme videli 60 rocnu skupinku kopat si tu vecicku bez spadnutia peknu chvilu.

Letny Palac umiestneny uprostred nadhernej scenerie na jazere je dalsim miestom, ktore si navstevnici nenechaju ujst. My sme stravili slnecny den prechadzkou po rozlahlom areale pomedzi pavilonmi, obednou pauzou na lavicke s vyhladom na jazero a jazdou na lodicke.

Peking je plny skvelych miest. Tie velke a zname su samozrejmostou, ale i take objavovanie skrytych chramov a dvorov uprostred tradicnych ‘hutongov’ je prijemny sposob, ako pozorovat zivot v tomto meste. Hutongami sa nazyvaju male stare ulicky s tradicnymi domami s dvorami uprostred. Bohuzial, tak ako mestske opevnenie, vacsina z hutongov bola znicena za komunizmu, aby na ich mieste vyrastli siroke asfaltky a panelove domy. Tych par, co prezilo sa daju prejst s vodicom na trojkolke (akejsi riksi) alebo na pozicanom bicykli (velmi popularny dopravny prostriedok v Pekingu).

Z Pekingu sme sa vybrali i na vylet na Velky Cinsky Mur. Po preskumani vsetkych moznych sposobov ako urobit tento vylet co najefektivnejsi cenovo a zaroven najmenej turisticky sme sa pridali na vylet organizovany hostelom Downtown Backpackers. Cesta minibusom trvala asi 2 hodinky. Vystupili sme pri nerusnej casti muru v blizkosti mestecka Jinshanling a vydali sa na 6km turu po mure smerom k oblasti Samatai, kde nas minibus zase vyzdvihol na cestu spat. Tento vylet vsetkym vrelo doporucujeme. Uzivali sme si prekrasne scenerie, zdolavali i narocnejsie ci rozbitejsie casti muru a to takmer sami siroko daleko. Cestou sme stretli len par turistov a chvilami nam spolocnost robili cinske damy s ruksakmi plnymi suvenirov, ktore veselo ponukali. Niektore casti muru boli celkom strme alebo bez murovaneho zabradlia, takze, ak sa sem vydate, zabky nechajte doma.

Okrem krasnych turistickych miest a pamiatok a skveleho jedla nas Peking prekvapil i tym, aky je na svoju velkost organizovany. V kazdej stanici metra su viditelne znazornene plany vychodov ci smerovky prestupov. Pred vstupom do stanice vam zrentgenuju tasky a ak je potreba i vas samotnych. Listky sa jednoducho kupuju v automatoch ci u okienka a stoja 2 yuany za jednu cestu. Na nastupisku su jasne oznacene dvere do voznov a sipkami naznacene smery nastupu a vystupu, ktore su vsak nie uplne dodrzovane. I ked pri prichode vlaku sa ludia snazia dostat dnu co najskor, pri cakani vzorne stoja v radoch. Kazda stanica ma tiez niekolkych zamestnancov, ktori koordinuju pasazierov a upozornuju ich na to, ktora cast nastupista zvladne este viac ludi, kam sa maju posuvat a niekedy im i pomozu jemnym potlacenim do vozna. Autobusove zastavky, narozdiel od metra, maju len cinske popisky, ale su tiez skvelo organizovane. Zastavka je rozdelena ciarami na zemi na rozne casti a kazda cast predstavuje rad pre jedno cislo autobusu. Vodic potom zastavi presne pred jeho radom. Parada.

V Pekingu sme byvali v dvoch roznych hosteloch a medzi nimi zazili i nasu prvu skusenost s Couchsurfingom. Nebolo to to co sme ocakavali a tak sme stravili takto len jednu noc. Nevzdavame sa ale, Couchsurfing urcite budeme skusat dalej. Cez neho sme totiz stretli Ginu – sibnutu ale velmi milu cinanku, povolanim svatobnu kameramanku, s ktorou sme stravili dva pekne vecery. Prvy vecer nas vzala do ulicky Nan Luo Gu Xiang, kde sme vecerali marinovane prepelicie vajicka, vynikajucu rubu, cili kun-pao a ako drink pili One night in Beijing. Na nasu poslednu veceru nas vzala do skvelej restauracie na znamu Pekingsku kacku (podava sa naporcovana na male kusky, ktore sa potom so slivkovou omackou, pasikmi uhorky a cibulky balia do papierovo tenkej palacinky) a dalsie cinske pochutky. Vecer sme zakoncili vtipnymi diskusiami, rundov piviek a silneho cinskeho alkoholu za 40 yuanov (€5) pre 7 ludi. Dobre casy!

Peking sme si velmi uzili a zalubili hlavne vdaka prekrasnej jesennej atmosferre mesta, rannym i nocnym trhom, poulicnemu jedlu, krasnym pamiatkam, ludom uzivajucim si v parkoch, cervenym lampionom, tradicnemu s modernym a i verejnej doprave a cistym uliciam. Prisli sme sem s ocakavaniami, ktore realita vysoko predcila a uz teraz sa tesime na nasu dalsiu navstevu v tomto meste.

Vyber fotiek z Pekingu je na tomto linku. Velky Cinsky Mur si mozete z nasho pohladu pozriet tu.

A este aby sme nezabudli… Male pekingske auticka su vsade (pozrite sa na kolaz Lucka & male auticka za anglickym textom).

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3 thoughts on “Bring it on Beijing!

  1. Pingback: Staying in in Shanghai | Take it and go

  2. Pingback: Gay in Taipei | Take it and go

  3. Pingback: 11 months in a single post | Take it and go

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