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2 Fast 2 Beijing

Im still new at this whole internet writing thing, and I’m not quite sure how to format all of this; so I’m just going to dump a whole lot of words about the rest of our time in Beijing. Let me know if it doesn’t make sense!

Jinshanling – Great Wall

On Tuesday we travelled in a bus about 2.5 – 3 hours out of Beijing to go see the Great Wall at a place called Jinshanling. I’ve been to the Great Wall before at a different site called Badaling (which is the main place tourists go to see the Great Wall), and to be honest it wasn’t really that impressive. The Wall at Badaling has been completely reconstructed to deal with the huge amount of tourists visiting it. Basically it is a lot wider and has very gentle slopes when compared to “real” sections of the wall. it’s also completely full of tourists so it’s hard to get good photos.

The attraction of Jinshanling is that it (apparently) hasn’t seen much reconstruction. The Great Wall was built pretty much entirely on hilltops and mountaintops, so we had to take a cable car up from the parking lot to get to the Wall. It’s two people in each of the cable cars and you both enter at the same time from doors on either side; Mike and I immediately got in and clashed our heads together. A great start to the Great Wall! !(Editor’s note: I’m so sorry I just typed that)Cable Cars at Jinshanling

The hike on the section of the Great Wall we were walking on was 4km each way, and we had 4 hours to do it in; but honestly it was a lot of hard work because we are all super fat the stairs in the wall got pretty close to 90 degrees in places, this might be a bit difficult to see from the photos but it was a lot of work!
Everyone at The Wall

After getting to the end of the “open” section of the Wall we found a sign in incomprehensible chingrish so we decided to keep going. Past this sign the Wall was basically falling apart – and we had to walk on dirt tracks to get around some blocked sections and we couldn’t climb up into any of the turret towers.
No walls at The Wall

Trespassing?
Anyway we only had about 4 hours at the wall so after a while we had to turn around and head back to the cable cars. On the way back I thought it would be a good idea to show my athleticism and peak physical condition by jumping down a flight of stairs on one section of the Wall and landing right on my ass in front of a bunch of Chinese schoolchildren, forever proving that I’m uncoordinated and that white men can’t jump.

Dragon Escalator

To say Damo was looking forward to this is to say that Karl loves his muffins (injokes, yay!) It was a bit of a pain to get to (2 trains and 2 buses), but Anna saved the day a few times due to her fluent mandarin (though some old guy told her that she talked like a “mountain man”). The Dragon Escalator is located at Longqin Gorge (which was about 2 – 3 hours out of Beijing using public transport – travel was a whopping $2.50 each way). Anna didn’t know the Mandarin word for “gorge” so she had to ask for the way to the “big hole”, but we eventually got there.
Dave at the Dragon escalator

Longqin Gorge is basically an elevated lake that’s been dammed and is surrounded on all sides by really steep cliffs with dramatic drops – a few of the cliffs have large Chinese characters carved into them and painted in bright red, which looks pretty neat. Longqin Gorge is also the home of King Kong Temple, so… there’s that.
King Kong Temple

Anyway the escalator is basically 6 separate escalators that take you up the side of a cliff wall, to get to the top of the dam. The escalators have been enclosed in a big yellow dragon that honestly looks pretty amazing – check out the photos. So we went up the Dragon, and got a boat ride around on the lake up the top for 30 or 40 mins, the scenery was great but it was bitterly cold, there was still ice on the water in some places (as well as loads of dead fish). We also saw a guy riding a motorbike on top of a wire suspended about 40 or 50m off the surface of the lake, which is pretty amazing in and of itself, but there was also a guy hanging from the bottom of the motorcycle doing acrobatic stunts which tilts the whole show from amazing to downright ridiculous.

When the boatride was over we went into the “Cave of 1000 Flowers” which is an artificial cave filed with artificial flowers and the absolute worst dioramas I have ever seen. I don’t want to say that this was my favourite bit, but… the crappy dioramas were my favourite bit. After exiting the Cave of Tinsel and Store Bought Stuffed Animals we caught a toboggan down to the base of the Great Dragon. I crashed my toboggan into Damo’s because I was busy taking glamour myspace shots of myself and not paying attention. I’m so embarrassed…
Giant deer or tiny man?

Temple of Heaven – old people + circular mound

We slept in a bit on Thursday and went to the Temple of Heaven, which is a large Temple and park complex in Beijing. The most impressive thing was hundreds of old people exercising and dancing. I fully realise how stupid that sounds, but they were playing all of these balance games and really putting us to shame. It doesn’t really come across that well in the photos though…

The Altar for Good Harvests (the centrepiece of the Temple of Heaven) is in the exact same style as the Forbidden City (down to the paint job) except round, so it wasn’t really that interesting to be honest. The personal highlight was when I made everyone walk for about 20 mins to get to the Circular Mound that was marked on the map of the Temple of Heaven. The Circular Mound was even less impressive than it sounds and here’s a great photo of me looking super enthused about the whole situation.
Circular Mound Yay!

On the way back to the hostel we found an underground shopping centre that only stocked “counterculture” clothes right around the corner from the hostel. Of course, being China, everything was fake so it was kind of neat to see stickers for “Veirns” instead of “Vans” – also does this make it more or less punk? Ugh, subcultural dilemmas…

The only reason I bring this up s because I finally fulfilled my lifelong dream of buying a Che Guevara style Communist cap. I was already foiled at a Communities for Communities trivia night and auction (I mistakenly bought a Resident Evil hat instead – an easy mistake to make).

Olympic Park + Loius Vutton 

Friday was our last full day in Beijing and we decided to go see the Olympic Park, which is basically the Bird’s Nest Stadium and the Water Cube. It was pretty neat and we took a whole bunch of photos of ourselves doing goofy things + I saw a guy walking around in a Bugs Bunny suit for no reason, so that was exciting. One thing I didn’t realise is that there are a concrete walking paths all around the Bird’s Nest Stadium that “extend” the idea of it being a Bird’s Nest – they intertwine and intersect each other at odd angles and it gives the whole place a pretty unique look.
My, what a nice hat you have

After the Olympic Park we just walked around Beijing and did some shopping and general touristy-stuff. We found the Beijing equivalent of Newtown – the only difference was that instead of 50 thai food restaurants it had 50 guitar shops, and someone had renamed the Enmore Theatre into Mao’s Livehouse, weird. I bought a flagrantly logo-ed Loius Vutton belt off some street vendor for about $2.10 to replace my old (and shamefully un-logo-ed) belt; between the new belt and the hat I left Beijing much more stylish than I entered it.

Anyway, I’m putting photos up on a Photobucket page here for everyone to look at if some people just can’t get enough. Obviously there’s a lot more photos up there than what will be appearing over here. It takes a long time to go through and organise and name all the photos, so if you come across ones that aren’t labelled, just leave a comment here and I’ll try and get to it.

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Categories: Beijing, Photos
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