Truthfully, Beijing was not on my bucket list. I think it’s because I detest big cities in general- the crowds, the patience required, the smog….but I did want to visit the Great Wall. I figured I’d have a chance to go someday, but when a long holiday rolled around in February, I jumped on the idea.
Luckily for me, I had two friends who scheduled a tour for the Great Wall (We walked Jinshaling- the highest and less frequented by tourists). When we arrived in Beijing, the four of us headed in a private car to walk around. It was an added bonus that it was the Lunar New Year period, so that the wall was empty for miles!
We saw a range of temperatures just in the five days we had in Beijing- smog, clear & sunny skies, rain, haze, and snow. Oy vey.
We were lost venturing around The Temple of Heaven. We asked several people (with map in hand) of the closest subway stop but did not have any luck. Defeated, we resorted to hand gestures and asked one more person. He responded, in perfect English, “Oh the closest subway stop? It’s there.” D’oh.
All around, I appreciated the chance to see the history. We also met some cool expats going out and did not have a hard time getting around, as I expected.
I personally felt that five days gave us good time to explore all the tourist destinations of Beijing. Is it enough to completely absorb the culture? Of course not. But since I have a 10 year tourist visa (woohoo US citizenship deal -_- ), guess I can go back. 😉