It’s September 2018 and I’m on my way to
meet up with my best friend Justin in Seattle for our flight to China. We will
be spending the next 21 days traveling all over the country and I’m a bundle of
nerves. Thankfully everything is running smoothly and we even have a seat between us for the 12-hour flight. They weren’t kidding around when they were talking about the air here. We are in the Beijing Airport
and we found our driver. Alright, this is our hotel maybe. The hostel actually gives us a handy
telephone. We can use it for google maps and stuff. Here’s our view. Ta-da! Beijing
everybody! Jet-lagged and exhausted, our only mission for day one was to get water, snacks and sleep. Good morning from Beijing! He got up at 4 a.m. I got up at 6 a.m. We are going to the subway to take a train to the Forbidden City?
Justin: To the Temple of Heaven Temple of Heaven and then Forbidden City?
Justin: Yes Okay, cool! Justin: Look at the dogs in the stroller coming up. Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. Stay Calm Justin: Ni Hao Teeny tiny dogs in a stroller. TEENY TINY DOGS IN A STROLLER. OHMYGAWD There are teeny tiny poodles everywhere. Everyone has one. It’s like if you live in Beijing you have to have a teeny tiny poodle following you
not on a leash. Speaking of teeny tiny poodles… Hello teeny tiny poodle. Okay bye teeny tiny poodle. Dongsi Station Now we have to get some tickets.
Machine: Please take your ticket and change. The security in this place is as good as the freaking airport. Alright scanning ticket…*Beep* So we’re here and we’re going here.
Everything’s in English this is too easy Insert it to prove that we paid. Trying not to die! Hahaha There are people as old as my grandparents here who have their legs up like frickin by their head. See?! See you have to stay active right? Look how many people are here like ‘you know I’m just gonna work out no big deal’ ‘It’s fine…’ This is what America needs! This place is absolutely enormous and the birds chirping and the crickets cricketing and it’s just so pretty. The Temple of Heaven was originally built in 1420 and was opened as a public park in 1988. The park covers an area of six hundred and sixty acres and is well used by the locals for
exercise, games, family time as well as dance and choral shows. I have never been around this many
people and had it feel so relaxed. How is it so calm? Everybody’s just having a good time. Symbolism referencing the connection between heaven and earth can be found in many of the architectural features with the heavens being
represented with circular shapes and the earth with squares. The largest building
in the complex, The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is an excellent example of the symbolism.
It’s round shape and dark blue roof emphasized its heavenly
connection as it towers over a square-shaped yard representing the earth. We are going to take a picture! *Laughter* There’s people singing! A pretty song! We’re gonna go see who’s singing. *Choir singing in Chinese* We are going to the Forbidden City next and we’re gonna be taking the subway so we’ve decided to go ahead and buy the
fancy card that you need to load up with subway money. It costs twenty yuan which is about three bucks. So no big deal. A couple of people may have biked here…just a couple though. Cashier: One card, one people ok?
Justin: Yah Cashier: Here
Claire: Xie xie (Thank you) Justin: We are in the pink line and we’re at this one?
Claire: Yup, yes Justin: And we are going to Tienanmen Square. Claire: Tienanmen east?
Justin: Yah Claire: And then…route! A whole app just for the Beijing metro, excellent. Over 15 million people visit the
Forbidden City every year. Don’t worry though, management set a limit of 80,000
visitors a day to help protect the city’s architecture and…help cut down on the crowds?? It’s getting hot! So we decided to do this without a map
and without a tour guide and without audio touring, nothing. So we have no
frame of reference for how big this thing is. There’s no map. All I know is that it keeps going and going and going and going. This is crazy! Inside there are all kinds of ancient paintings, sculptures, ceramics and other pieces of history on display,
far more than can possibly be appreciated in only one day. The Forbidden City’s sprawling complex of 980 buildings covers an area of over 180 acres and is surrounded by 26-foot tall, 20-foot deep wall as well as a 170 foot wide moat which served as defensive
measures throughout history. The Forbidden City housed China’s Emperors for over 500 years and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987. Its rich
cultural and political history make it a must-see if you find yourself in Beijing. So apparently we just exited and we didn’t know it so we’re not allowed back in. We wanted to go up there but I guess
we’re not going to do that. After accidentally finishing the Forbidden City, Justin and I wandered over to Beihai park, one of the oldest and largest imperial gardens in China. This is going to be my first experience
in public toilet. I’ve heard stories. Our current mission is lunch. We are seeing lunchy kind of things. We’re hungry. Thanks to some TripAdvisor and some clever googling we have found an area
full of restaurants and we found one that we want to try and find. Hostess: Hello, how many people?
Justin: Two This is our first Chinese restaurant and
we’re probably going to end up- Ooh! Heck yeah! Is that a sea cucumber? What is that? This is Chinese broccoli according to Justin it smells delicious! Claire: Are you excited?
Justin: Yes Claire: That’s really good. It only took about 2 miles of walking in circles but we have found the subway! Next stop on our to-do list is the Summer Palace and instead of researching which subway
stop to use we headed to only stop on the map with “Summer Palace” in its name. That was a mistake. It’s a 40 minute walk?! How are we going to get there and get back before- We are going to walk back at night? We are 40 minutes walk from where we want to be so we’re gonna have a really pretty walk actually, I- it looks like
we’re in the middle of the country now. It’s stunning so you won’t see me complaining. We were wondering why there weren’t any tourists on the train and Claire: the walk we are about to do…
Justin: because they actually did their research Claire: They’re like oh yeah we actually looked up what station we need to be at… This is the first major attraction we’ve been through that didn’t require us to get x-rayed and metal detected and probed haha and it is heavenly. It is so pretty. Danger! Deep-water! No romping! I’m in a romper though! So that’s a view you don’t hang out in front of everyday. Check this out. Well, bunch of tourists over here it must
be a good view. Of course we’re not going to obey the sign. So the official entrance to the
Summer Palace closes at 5:00 p.m. but it is 5:35 and we finally made it here! But it’s closed so we enjoyed the view from the back! It was really pretty. Claire: This is where we were last time we
checked on our location. Now where are we? Whoa we went far! Okay so the metro is
Justin: Oh! Claire: um so I guess we’re gonna go like this…
Justin: Oops Claire: and up there to the metro. We are taking normal streets to the subway. In theory I guess it’s this way. maybe. AHHH 4…3…2….1 Yah alright I’m staying here. No death for me. I’m staying right here. It says green. It says go! It says walk. Alright, alright I’m going I’m going I’m going I’m going Okay we are at our home station. I cannot wait to take some ibuprofen! We are going to get some water from the grocery store…um snacks.. Claire: These look fancy. Do you have a preference?
Justin: I’m going to go with the weird one. So this is what an escalator for carts looks like. This is hilarious and dangerous and strange. I’m surprised by how difficult it is to stay upright on this thing. There’s the down one. We found the fruit it was hiding upstairs.
There’s watermelon I don’t think you need that much watermelon although I
kind of want to eat that for dinner. There is a 3rd floor to this thing! Is this just like dried fish? Dried lemon snack! Hmmm Alright, we have enough water that I can chug whatever I want. We bought ramen. It’s because we have a hot water heater in our room for tea and so we’ll be able to make soup in our room and not have to go anywhere. We are almost there. This is our luxury dinner. We have two different kinds of ramen. We have bread. Looks good. Alright I’m going to put my feet up like a sad pathetic diva. Miles 1 through 11 were fantastic. Miles 11 through 13…. less fantastic for me hahaha. So now I has my feet up. I feel ridiculous.