I absolutely love being in China. I love the cuisine, I love finding the most random things in any shop I walk into & I love how all the busyness & chaos seeps into & overtakes my thoughts & for a while I’m completely lost in my surroundings. I love how everything seems to be so incredibly different from the way of life I know & isn’t experiencing that the point of traveling?
I was over the moon to be going back & super excited to get to visit Beijing as I hadn’t had the opportunity the last time I was in the country. Although, the only thing I wasn’t excited about was visiting in winter.
For a bit of background, Beijing is the capital of the People’s Republic of China. It is home to around 21 million people, covers an area of around 17,000 square kilometres & has a history dating back around 3 thousand years. Reportedly, there are 9 million bicycles in Beijing… I’m not sure who has time to count them though. Jokes aside, it goes without saying that a city of this magnitude contains an overwhelming number of points of interest & should definitely be included onto every bucket list.
I knew while I was there I wanted to see the Forbidden City so at 9 am my friend & I faced the icy wind & were determined to make it there on public transport. Taking directions from the hotel reception seems like a good idea, right? Wrong. We walked around in the freezing weather for half an hour before we finally found the metro station that was “just around the corner”.
We got off the metro at the right station & true to unprepared tourists, we left the station through the wrong exit. We were opposite the Forbidden City, on the wrong side of the road & it wasn’t like we could just quickly run across. We had to walk quite a distance up the road, use a pedestrian crossing underneath the road & then walk back. When we got to the right side of the road, we followed the crowd. This was a mistake because we were the only foreigners & we followed them into a fenced security checkpoint. We thought it was for the Forbidden City, but it was actually the military doing checks on locals.
A man in uniform spotted us & charged towards us, blowing a whistle as loud as he could & pointing in the direction we had come from. We both got a little bit nervous so we turned & tried to get away as fast as possible… which wasn’t very fast at all because we were going against the flow of the crowd. He & his whistle followed us until we got out of that fenced area.
We did make it to the entrance & had a great time in the Forbidden City. We used the main exit & wanted to get back to the main entrance so we could backtrack to the hotel. The thing was, once you exit, they don’t let you back in & the walk around is over 3 kilometres. We asked the security guard if there was a bus that went to the entrance & he said there was & he pointed us to it. We paid & got on. The bus didn’t go back to the entrance. We just kept getting further & further away from the Forbidden City so we decided to get off & take a taxi back to the hotel.
I think my organs were frozen & my face was sunburnt, but I had such a great day.
Keep traveling, keep safe.