After our whirlwind few days in Shanghai, it was time to head north to Beijing, the capital city of China. While Shanghai dazzled us with its modern high-rise buildings, Beijing amazed us with its history. Places like the Forbidden City and the vast Tiananmen Square are really worth visiting for their sheer scale and of course, The Great Wall of China is like nothing else on earth.
Travelling between the two cities was an experience in itself, the train station in Shanghai would give plenty of international airports a run for their money in terms of sheer enormity. Taking the high speed train meant covering a distance of over 1300km in just under 5 hours, something Irish Rail could learn a thing or two from.
The day spent exploring Beijing by bicycle is really worth doing as you can see so much more than getting around on the subway. For a city of almost 20 million people, it’s suprisingly easy and safe to cycle around (just be careful at junctions!).
A visit to the market on Wangfujing Street gave us a chance to try some really weird food. The menu here includes everything from scorpion and crickets to snakes and spiders and probably a whole lot more that we missed! Most of our group were brave enough to try the scorpion which, in all honesty, tasted like deep fried chicken. Not something I’ll be ordering with my spring rolls from the local Chinese take-away at home though.
Of course, the highlight of any trip to not just Beijing, but China in general is seeing the Great Wall in person. I was fortunate enough to visit the Great Wall in November 2015 and see it covered in snow. While the Wall looked spectacular, the view was not as we were up in the clouds. This time however we had a perfect day which gave us a perfect view across the rugged landscape which it covers.
Seeing the Great Wall in person really is like nothing else, photos just do not do justice to how impressive it really is and the history behind it. Anyone who is considering a trip to China needs to make sure it is included in your itinerary as it’s something you can not miss.
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