TF Flashback: First Trip To China -The Great Wall, Forbidden City, Peking Duck, Grasshoppers, Crickets & Snake! (2007)

Although I’d been to both Hong Kong and Taiwan in 2006 I was still itching to visit mainland China so one year later I decided to head to capital city Beijing (via a transit in Shanghai) for a short break. These were very different times when I used to frequently take holidays overseas and indeed this trip to China was on the back of travels in the Philippines, India and Australia in the same year!

Due to the language barrier I was a bit more apprehensive than usual about having to navigate my way to my hotel by bus, subway and on foot during a time before smartphones! Fortunately, I met a French guy on the plane who lived in Beijing and shared a taxi with me which saved me a lot of hassle no doubt.

I was up at 6:30 am on the first morning to take a local bus and taxi 90 kilometres away to see the Great Wall in Mutianyu which is the second closest place to Beijing. After taking a chairlift, I was on the famous landmark itself with the sun shining brightly too. The first part I walked along was quite taxing really and a kick up the backside in terms of underestimating it!


Overall I spent about four hours walking back and forth along the complete length of the wall available to the public in Mutianyu. It really did feel good to experience such an iconic spectacle and was a far more interesting experience than I thought it would be. The section of the wall at Badaling is far more touristy so I was happy with my choice of location. I was even rewarded by having it all to myself at times in the early afternoon. The descend was great fun and done via toboggan which was a nice relaxing and thrilling way to round off the first part of my China experience.


Back in the capital slightly earlier than expected, I went to Tiananmen Square where many Olympic cultivations were on display as well as a countdown clock across the road.

I saw the soldiers parade through the mass crowds and generally just soaked up the atmosphere of the place in terms of people watching.

Food was to be an important part of this trip and the obvious starting point was Peking Duck which I had never previously eaten. I went to a place called Beijing DaDong Roast Duck Restaurant near my hotel and had to wait for about an hour but it was all worth it and built up my hunger. I ordered a feast of food for a very reasonable price but it did use up about 20% of my fairly tight Beijing budget in all.

As well as half a roast duck and a Yan Jing beer, I also ordered mustard duck webs, sayed duck wings and sauteed duck breast in a crispy yam basket which was probably enough for two or three people!


The following day I took early lunch at the snack street in Wangfujing and on the menu this time for me was smelly tofu, lamb kebabs and a grasshopper!! Despite all the talk, it was actually alright and just like crunchy shrimp to be honest!

I returned to Wangfujing in the evening but this time to visit Donghuamen Night Market for pretty much more of the same but on a bigger scale. A few more lamb kebabs were sampled as were banana fritters, crickets and snake! The crickets were fine and the snake was too at first but the more I chewed away the less appealing it all became and I’m sure I gave up on it. Still, I got the photo of me eating it!!

My second full day was the busiest, and it began by rising at 6:30 am once again. I walked across Tiananmen Square once more and through the Gate Of Heavenly Peace from which the famous portrait of Chairman Mao (of the Communist Party Of China) hung.

I entered the Forbidden City when it opened at 8:30am and you can see why guidebooks suggest giving this huge place a whole day of your time. Not for me though! Two and a half hours was just about enough as I had other places to visit.


After lunch I took a local bus to the Summer Palace which I was more impressed by. Like the Great Wall, this was also a place of climbing and hiking which is more interesting to me than looking around the temples themselves. This place is beautifully located on the a huge lake which I went on via boat to visit a tiny island and see up-close the 17 arch bridge which connects it to the main land.


My flight back to Japan was at 1:30 pm the next day but I still had a few things left to do so I pushed myself to get up at 5am in order to be at Temple of Heaven Park by 6am for opening time. Many locals start each and every day with tai-chi and other such activities.


I had a quick wander through some Hutongs after that which are the traditional backstreet type houses which were dropping fast as the city developed in anticipation of the following years Olympic games. It was nice to walk around freely and catch a glimpse of the ‘real China’ which I didn’t really see too much of at the tourist traps I’d visited on the two days prior.


I proceeded to walk past the Drum Tower, round Qianhai Lake and through Beihai Park. That place was full of many groups of mostly old people dancing with fans, ribbons and swords (not all together obviously!), and it was all of that which brought the curtain down on a short but very packed three night trip to China.

Click here to read ‘Shanghai 2013 Pt I: Meeting Up With My Mate Michael’ 

Click here to read ‘Shanghai 2013 Pt II: Eating And Sightseeing’ 

Click here to read ‘I Must Have Been Quackers To Eat Some Of This Food!’

Click here to read ‘The Great Wall: In Spitting Distance Of The City!’

About tokyofox

A Leicester City fan teaching English in Japan
This entry was posted in Asia Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.