As I sit in my heated room, with the temperature in the negatives outside, and my stomach nice and full from the American Burger Restaurant around the corner, I can’t help but reminisce on the past week we have had. The Chinese New Year holiday has presented everyone with a one week break off work. The first thought of this is “Oh no, we have come here for a four week internship and we can only work three.” The other school of thought is, “YES! A holiday!” To be honest, I’m located somewhere in the middle (Ok, maybe towards the holiday…). Anyway, this one week break has provided us with the opportunity to explore China, starting with a two day trip to Wuxi, and then a three day trip to the capital, Beijing. Follow me as I describe the past five days!
So we woke up at 6:00am on Saturday Morning to meet everyone to head towards the train! If I have to be completely honest, some of us weren’t feeling the best after the previous nights Karaoke and Alcohol, but that’s a story for another day. We arrived at the train station about an hour early, and of course, with any group of teenagers, what do we do!? Head to McDonalds. The train station was massive (about the size of Brisbane Airport), and it was pretty busy due to Chinese New Year. The train ride was about 45 minutes, and as the train goes 300km/h, it went pretty quick!
When we arrived in Wuxi, we headed straight to a temple and explored a festival that was occurring due to Chinese New Year. After this, we headed to the hot springs, where we relaxed in water that was 42 degrees. It was maybe a little too hot, but due to the weather outside, we weren’t complaining. The hot springs were an experience to say the least, with Chinese people being a bit more comfortable with the bodies, than Australians. The next day we headed to ‘The Three Kingdoms’. This turned out to be not what we expected, with the area being turned into a theme park. There was fighting re-enactments, ‘navy training area’, boat rides, dress-up rides, and more. We went on a boat ride of the island, however due to the fog, we couldn’t see much. Therefore we decided to do what you normally do a boat – re-enact Titanic and pose for photos with all the locals.
The following day we headed to the capital of China, the great city of Beijing. A similar ritual was followed to the previous train ride, however more food was consumed as we were on this train for five hours. Upon arriving into Beijing we realized one key thing….It was cold! With temperatures ranging from -10 to 0, it was colder than many of us (particularly those from Brisbane and Perth) had experienced before. On the first day in Beijing we went to the Summer Palace, which was a man-made island for the emperor during for the summer. It was extremely cold, so whilst it was amazing to witness, we moved through it quite fast because of the weather. In the evening, quite a few of us headed to ‘the most famous Peking duck restaurant in Asia’. We waited forty minutes to get a seat, however, it was worth it! The food was so amazing, and we ordered so many dishes and drinks, and it only ended up costing us about $20AUD each!
The next day, with a western breakfast under our belt, we headed to the Great Wall of China. We were taken to a spot that was a couple hours away from the city, and therefore it wouldn’t be too busy. Along the way we saw some frozen waterfalls, however it was the site of the Great Wall that made everyone just stare in silence. Although you may be thinking, “it is just a wall”, the sight of it is truly astonishing. There are many ways to get up to the Wall, and we chose the 800 steps. This was not the smartest idea (especially since it was about -5), however upon making it to the top, we were all astounded. We then walked along the Wall for about 2 hours, taking hundreds of photos. Whilst two hours may seem like a long time, I could of stayed there for much longer! The next and final day in Beijing, we went to Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City. This was a great experience, however the freezing weather meant that we rushed this tour and didn’t get to fully explore this historic area. Finally, we headed to the Olympic Village of 2008, which is more my kind of thing! I was amazed at the architecture and construction of the amazingly created buildings such as the Birds Nest and the Ice Cube.
Beijing is definitely a city that I definitely won’t forget visiting. I saw some of the greatest sites in the world there, and although it wasn’t as western as Shanghai, it was still an amazing city and experience! Absolute organized this whole journey, along with our very own tour guide, which allowed us to make the most out of this journey.