A destination I was actually trying to swap for a turn around because one of my good friends from Home was in Dubai and this was the only chance I would catch her before my leave! However trying to swap this flight it seems was more difficult than drawing blood from a stone, so hey ho, it was off to Beijing with a 6 and a half hour flight over to China’s capital.
One of my friends who was also an international student with me back in Kansas actually relocated to Beijing to teach English about 10 months back. So we arranged to meet for drinks after I landed as it was almost three years since we last saw each other!
Jay had suggested we go to a Hutong not too far from her, or my hotel. So after a power nap on the bus ride over to the hotel and checking in, I quickly got changed and jumped in a taxi with translation help from the concierge and met her at Lama Temple subway station.
I wish I’d of taken a picture of how quirky these little back streets were. There were lots of different cafes, bars, restaurants and shops milling with people in the chilly autumnal air. We even walked past a shop that had the tiniest little kittens in the window which I couldn’t stop cooing over.
Feeling pretty ravenous now, it was time to stop for somewhere to eat! Always a little nervous eating in China as I always hear crew horror stories of food poisoning and with me having leave after this flight I was a little nervous. However, I trusted Jay’s judgement and myself, Jay and two of her friends sat down at a table browsing the menu. I’m not a picky eater so was happy with anything they recommend and soon enough what I can describe as a small keg of beer was brought out to the table with a variety of accompanying dishes.
One of my favourites, which I would have never picked on my own, was actually a cold dish of cucumber tossed in a thick garlic sauce with onions. Something you wouldn’t imagine to work that well but it really did and I was practically scraping the plate clean.
After this we made our way into a bar much livelier than the rest where a lot of Jay’s teaching friends were. It was interesting to hear about everyone lives and what brought them to Beijing etc. And around 3am I finally decided to call it a night as I could barely keep my eyes open after an early start in Dubai and a long day and jumped in a taxi back to the hotel.
The next morning I woke up at 10:50am and got ready to meet another girl from economy, Aleksandra, and we made our way over to the Forbidden City. This is something I’d wanted to do in Beijing for a while so it was nice to be able to tick something else off the list.
Arriving at the Forbidden City, there was seriously heightened security measures implemented due to the Communist Party Conference and they actually wanted to check passports or national ID cards. Neither of which I had carried with me. We thought all was over before it had even started when one of the staff said they would accept my passport in picture form. Thankfully I had a scan saved on my phone and they accepted this and we entered the Forbidden City.
“The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty—the years 1420 to 1912. It is in the centre of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum. It served as the home of emperors and their households as well as the ceremonial and political centre of Chinese government for almost 500 years.
Constructed from 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 buildings and covers over 180 acres. The palace complex exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture, and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.
Since 1925 the Forbidden City has been under the charge of the Palace Museum, whose extensive collection of artwork and artefacts were built upon the imperial collections of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Part of the museum’s former collection is now in the National Palace Museum in Taipei. Both museums descend from the same institution, but were split after the Chinese Civil War. Since 2012, the Forbidden City has seen an average of 15 million visitors annually, and had 16 millions visitors in 2016″.
Thoughts on the Forbidden City are that it is very grand and beautiful. The paintings on the roofs and ceilings are incredibly extravagant and painted with vibrant colours adorned with shimmering golds that glint in the sunlight.
However, the city is one beautiful temple after another, after another and soon became a little monotonous. Something everyone should visit when in Beijing though and I’m glad I got to visit even if I did forget my shoes and have to where my flip flops paired with a jumper. Much to the amusement of the Chinese who kept pointing and laughing at me and then taking pictures. At least I brightened a few people’s day, right?
Upon exiting the Forbidden City you are directly in front of Jinghsan Park a neighbourhood park where you can actually climb to the top of an artificial hill, Jingshan, which literally translates to “Prospect Hill”. for great views looking over the entire Forbidden City. Entry costs just 2 Yen, very cheap in comparison to the 60 Yen paid for the Forbidden City.
After powering through the steep steps, I was hoping for an incredible view that I’d been told about. What I did see was absolutely shocking.
The above picture is not actually fog but the effects of pollution in China. As a rapidly growing and developing country China has compromised sustainability in aid of mass production and the city is left in a surrounding smog. You could barely see the Forbidden City as it stood before you and it only made me think, what on earth am I breathing in whilst I stay here? Surely this is compromising to ones health?
Feeling hungry and tired we both decided we would make our way back to the hotel to rest before our wake up call and the night flight back to Dubai. Although we were victim to being conned by taxis who knew we would pay over the odds to get back to the hotel with us looking foreign and only managing a few words of Chinese between us.
Resting really well before the flight it was a nice flight back to Dubai. I’m also so impressed with how many Chinese words I picked up on the trip. Being crew it’s nice to utilise the language speakers on my flights and I always endeavour to at least know basic greetings, thank you and you’re welcome and some of the menu terminology and I was able to easily speak with our Chinese passengers. Who, yes often did laugh at my pronunciation, but appreciated the fact I was really trying. I was a real amusement for a lot of Chinese on this trip haha!
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