Today is the big day. We are finally leaving for Thailand.
Fortunately for us, we chose to have a 14 hour layover in Beijing.
Which means, we were able to plan a tour that picks us up from the airport and brings us to The Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, takes us to a restaurant that serves an authentic Chinese lunch, then back to the airport before our flight to Bangkok.
Pretty awesome, right?
As I was doing some last minute packing for the hot 90 degree weather in Thailand, my best friend, Emily decided to check the weather in Beijing…like we should have ?
Well, we definitely didn’t pack accordingly.
As our day spirals to a close, we meet our 2nd travel buddy, Ben at In-N-out. You know, last American meal before we head out.
Once we arrived at LAX, everything was a breeze. No issues with our boarding passes, security was painless, and had plenty of time to get organized before our flight. This included getting currency exchanged 🙂
Only 13 hours to go.
It’s 5:30 AM and we have officially landed in Beijing. It went by much quicker than we assumed, thankfully.
After unloading and waiting about 2 hours to get our “72-hour free visa” stamp, we were finally able to meet our tour guide.
We were met by Sherry. She rounded up her group and we headed off to find our bus.
Just as a precaution for those who plan on crossing the street here. You are asking for a death wish. Normally, cars will stop while you’re going through a crosswalk. Obviously?
Not here. Those rules don’t apply. Before we could even make it from point A to point B, we were almost ran over. Rude.
Anyways, we find our bus and all load in. Sherry tells us some history and facts about Beijing as we make our 45 minute commute up to The Great Wall.
Keep in mind, we still were not 100% prepared for the weather that was waiting for us outside. As we’re driving, our windows are layered in ice…..ice, baby.
Once we arrive, we have to take 2 separate shuttles and a small shopping area before we can get to the cable cars that takes us up to The Great Wall.
I’m wearing 2 layers of pants, 2 long sleeves, a sweater, a scarf, a beanie, and keds. I. Was. Miserable. I’m pretty sure that if I didn’t put any more socks on (shout out to Emily for giving me her pair), my toes would have fallen off.
We checked the temperature..14 degrees but feels like 9 degrees. It most certainly did.
Back to the important stuff.
For those unfamiliar with The Great Wall of China was build by the first Chinese Emperor over 2,000 years ago. The purpose of the wall was to see first signs of attack from the nomadic Hsiung Nu tribes from northern China who were trying to invade. Their goal was to prevent mass invasion from being conquered by the north.
The wall runs about 1,500 miles in length and used roughly one million people to help in the construction.
Needless to say, these sights were almost unreal. Seeing miles and miles of these bricks and having an endless view of the mountain tops is something that you can’t truly explain into words.
There was snow and ice outlining the inner wall and all the white caps of the mountains that surrounded us made me feel like I was in a movie.
We took hundreds of pictures, laughed, explored, and enjoyed the fact that we were standing on one of the 7 wonders of the world.
With our time on the wall deteriorating, we went to meet the rest of our group and Sherry. We all make our way back to our bus and are ready for lunch.
Sherry takes us to this restaurant (literally a hole in the wall) to experience an authentic Chinese meal. We are all seated around a table with a large glass “Lazy Susan” in the middle.
In China, they eat family style as opposed to individual portions. So, we order food for the table and we pick from that to put on our plate. We even got to try some Chinese wine (which was more like gasoline) and beer.
Our next location was Tiananmen Square.
We had a short walk on our way, and I was able to snap some pictures of some of the architecture throughout the city.
Tiananmen Square was a crucial piece of history in Beijing, China. It was very simple, but the history is what really held value. Also known as the “June Fourth Incident”, students gathered at Tiananmen Square to mourn the death of Hu Yaobang. He was the General secretary of the Communist party.
Later thousands more marched throughout the square and in response for providing a democratic government, Chinese troops killed thousands of people and arrested over 10,000 for the protests.
Being on the same ground was moving.
Unfortunately, The Forbidden City was closed while we were there. We were only able to see just outside the gates. It looked absolutely incredible, even from outside the walls.
After a few photo opportunities, we grab our things and head to the bus. Our last and final stop is a Tea House.
This Tea House was so beautiful. The decor in the inside really made you feel like you were experiencing Chinese culture.
We had a tea ceremony and were given a presentation to show us the Chinese rituals of tea, and try all sorts of different herbs and tea leaf combination.. Best tea I have ever had. Hands down. In addition, we learned about all the different benefits each tea holds.
Once we finished, we wrapped up and headed back to the bus to return to our next adventure.
We arrived back at the Beijing airport to catch our flight to Bangkok. We had such an incredible experience with our 14 hour layover in China.
Bangkok, here we come