Again, it’s been
more than a month a long time since I’ve gotten around to posting anything (I’m not sure how cut out I am for this whole blog thing), so this is basically most of what I did in April. It’s a little long, but not as long as the post I’m going to do on May 😉 (Or Shanghai, or Inner Mongolia, places I’ve also been in the meantime. I can’t even keep a diary; what possibly made me think I’d keep up with a blog?).
11th April – The Great Wall (长城-慕田峪)
Thursday 11th April we had a class trip to the Great Wall, to the same part of it that I visited back in 2011. I didn’t mind though; it’s quieter than some of the other, more tourist-y spots and – best of all – you can ride a toboggan down it! 😀 It wasn’t too warm but most of my class still decided against climbing up; instead we took the cable car which is a bit like a ski lift. I loved it (I don’t mind heights), but the getting on and off takes some getting used to.
Once we were up there, we met up with our teachers (who had chosen to climb up) and went for a little wander, though it mostly seemed to involve taking photos. We were only there for a couple of hours, so we didn’t get too far.
We’d been told earlier on that we weren’t supposed to take the toboggans down because of past experiences of students going too fast and falling off (it happened to some of the people I was with last time – the video was hilarious), but Dan and I decided we were adults and responsible for ourselves so we’d bought toboggan tickets anyway. Like the rebels we so clearly are.
Once our class saw us queuing up, they all decided to join us and we had an awesome ride back down (somehow, I ended up at the front of our little group, which was a little terrifying because the girl behind me did not seem to know how to slow down). We went to Subway – there’s a Subway at the Great Wall, yes, literally nothing is left untouched nowadays – and had a little chill out in the sun before heading back to the buses.
13th April – Tianjin (天津)
The Saturday after, we decided to go to Tianjin. It’s only about 30 minutes from Beijing on the fast train (which goes about 200 km/h!), but we set off quite early regardless. Due to a number of things, the group got split into two and we ended up on the later train, but we could exchange the tickets for free so it didn’t really end up being that much of a problem. The problem was that despite having a map, we got lost when we got there. We ended up wandering around the train station area for a very long time.
Eventually, we got a phone call from the group who’d gone ahead and decided to meet them at the ‘Italian Style Town’ we’d seen on our way through.
We grabbed a couple of taxis and headed over, then went for a walk through there – honestly, it seemed to be more a ‘European Style Town’, what with all the beer and varied restaurants…
There were photographers everywhere too so we couldn’t turn in any direction without ending up in someone’s photo, but after we’d had a walk through here (and some food, finally!) we decided to go and look for some other areas of the city. (Side note: just before we went to get food, my camera decided to kick the bucket. I’d had it for about three and a half years by this point so it was hardly surprising, but still, RIP little camera. Look forward to a lot of pictures taken on my iPhone in the future ;). I’m sure they’ll be awesome.) We walked along the river for a while; the afternoon was pleasantly warm, especially for April.
After a while, we ended up a bit turned around so we headed back towards the Tianjin Eye, which is a pretty impressive sight.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to have a go that time, but I’m hoping I’ll go back – at 70 yuan a time, it’s a lot cheaper than the London Eye, that’s for sure!
By this point it was early evening – and it was starting to rain. Still, we wanted some pictures of the buildings opposite the train station at night, so we headed back in that direction to get some dinner and wait for nightfall.
As is usual, I had dumplings for dinner (because they’re amazing!) and we finished pretty quickly – though we attracted some strange stares from the people working in the restaurant.
After food, we went and bought our tickets back to Beijing (about 55 yuan; currently approx. £5.70) and then took our final pictures of Tianjin before heading home. It’s pretty in the day, but it looks amazing lit up at night.
19th April – Olympic Park (奥林匹克公园)
This is a pretty short one. On Friday 19th April our uni had some kind of sports event thing that I was entirely not interested in attending (I might have started going to the gym more regularly now, but it doesn’t mean I like sports and especially not in a participatory role.), so we went on a little trip to the Olympic Park. It was a nice day for a walk (though the pictures don’t really reflect that; it was cloudy as anything) and I finally got to see the Beijing National Stadium (鸟巢; Bird’s Nest), which I never visited the last time I was here.
Fun fact: a friend told me that apparently the lake froze over in winter and you could walk across it (though technically it’s not allowed ;)). I’m kind of sad I missed that!