Our Great Wall trip also included a few days in Beijing, the capital of China. With a population of 21.5 million people, Beijing is the nation's second-largest city after Shanghai. It is a modern city known for the ancient temples,...

 

Beijing, China and more...




Beijing, China

Our Great Wall trip also included a few days in Beijing, the capital of China. With a population of 21.5 million people, Beijing is the nation's second-largest city after Shanghai.

It is a modern city known for the ancient temples, the Forbidden City, Olympic stadiums and terrible pollution.  It also has some of the most expensive real estate in the world. 

 

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As pretty as the modern part of the city is, we preferred the hutongs (residential neighborhoods which form the heart of Old Beijing). 

 

 

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He's a big boy.

 

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Doesn't this meal look good?  Having translation problems with a menu that was in Chinese characters, we ordered this dish by pointing at a photo.  When it arrived at the table D took a bite and assessed it to be kidneys.  We then googled "kidney" in Chinese and showed it to our waiter.  He nodded yes and I ate rice. 

 

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The next three photos are my favorite of the trip.  Peanuts anyone?

 

 

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Obviously someone likes peanuts.  Look closely at his mouth.

 

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So did he fall asleep with the peanuts in his mouth or did someone place them there?  So funny!

 

 

Me

 

 

It is always interesting to see the different modes of transportation in various countries.

 

 

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This one is so cute!

 

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Most everywhere we travel in Asia a post-lunch nap is essential for shopkeepers.  And they really do not care if customers come in to shop.  Yes, the sleeping lady on the cot is the owner.  I decided not to buy so I did not need to wake her up!

 

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 The summer Palace

The Summer Palace was built in 1750 and was destroyed in the war of 1860.  It was restored on its original foundations in 1886 and is a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design.  It was used for the Imperial family to get away from the heat of the forbidden city.  Today it is only used for tourism.

 

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Beijing collage 1
 

 

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The Forbidden City

Also known as the Palace Museum, it lies at the city center of Beijing, and once served as the imperial palace for 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368 - 1911).

 

 

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The Forbidden City was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1987.  It holds the title of the world's largest preservation of wooden structures from ancient world.

 

 

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Around one million artifacts are housed within the Palace Museum and they are considered Chinese National Heritage items and under the protection of the Chinese government.

 

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I can't end this blog without a little clip of my shopping! 

First, here is D at the market... patiently waiting for me.  What a great hubby!

 

 

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It was a large indoor market with many treasures.

 

 

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Look at all the chops (stamps)!!  Did you know that in many Asian countries they still use chops in lieu of signatures for personal documents, office paperwork, contracts, art, or any item requiring acknowledgement or authorship?

 

 

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Me, happy with my purchases!  The vendor was very excited that I was so interested in the chops.

 

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This vendor was very popular.  He was selling seed pods from a Banyon tree.  They are really fun as you have no idea what it will look like until he polishes it.  People analyzed the pods forever until they picked one.  I guess they knew what they were looking for.  We bought a few. 

 

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I was exhausted after my shopping and made D get me a Tuk Tuk back to the hotel.  As always... safety first!

 

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Me 1

 

With all of our travel in Asian, we had never seen this.  It was in the closet of our hotel.  To be used in case of a nuclear attack... we are glad we did not have to use it. 

 

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This was a quick trip but we really enjoyed seeing the city of Beijing!

     
 

One from the bucket list - the Great Wall of China

 

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This one was on the bucket list for me. How could we live in Asia for four years and not see the Great Wall of China? The timing was not the greatest as D had knee surgery ten days prior.  He had to climb with a brace, but he was a real trooper! 

  

 

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Walking on the Great Wall was amazing and certainly worth the journey.  To see the wall zigzag through the mountains is a special sight.  Like many places we visit, photos don't do it justice.  You really need to see it in person to feel the enormity and the history. 

 

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The Great Wall is more than 2,300 years old and the official length is 5500 miles (8851.8 kilometers). 

  

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It is considered the world's longest wall and the longest man-made structure in the world.  Reconstruction and protection of the Great Wall began with Badaling in 1957.  In 1987 it was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. 

 

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After a lot of research, we opted to visit the section at Mutianyu and spend one night at a nearby hotel. There are other parts of the wall you can visit that are closer to Beijing, but Mutianyu is the best-preserved section and less crowded. 

 

 

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The Great Wall at Mutianyu was built in the early Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644).  Glutinous rice flour was used in making the binding material to bind the bricks.  

 

 

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Sadly, nearly 1/3 of the Great Wall has disappeared due to humans and natural erosion.  During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), many bricks of the Great Wall were taken away to use in building homes, farms, and reservoirs. 

 

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The watchtowers on the great wall are mainly 2 stories tall. The first floor was used for soldiers or to store food and weapons. The second floor served as a lookout.  There are only 23 watchtowers left. 

 

 

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The Great Wall of China has been called the longest cemetery on Earth. Over a million people died building the wall and archaeologists have found human remains buried under parts of the wall.  There is an old legend about a woman called Meng Jiangnv, whose husband died building the Wall. They say her weeping was so bitter and loud that a section of the Wall collapsed, revealing her husband's bones so she could bury them.

 

 

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There is a marathon held each year in May.  It attracts   over 2500 runners from all over the world.  There are many different levels including a full marathon (26 miles), half marathon (13 miles), 10k, and 5k distances.

 

 

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We were very lucky with the weather as we only had an afternoon and a morning tour the wall.  We went to see it as soon as we arrived.  It was a good thing as the next morning we woke up to heavy rain.

 

 

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Contrary to common belief, the Great Wall of China cannot be seen from space with the naked eye.  

 

 

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At the Mutianyu location you have the choice of taking a cable car both ways, or to get down from the wall via toboggan or slide rail.  Because of D's knee, we took the cable car both ways.

Notice we are in the same cable car that Bill Clinton rode in.

 

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A few tips to visit the Great Wall of China:

They say that the best time to visit the Great Wall is spring (April - May) and autumn (September - November). Summer is the peak season with exhausting heat and popular sections get very crowded, and in winter it’s very cold with almost no crowds.  We were there the first week of June and the temperature was very pleasant and the crowds were minimal.  But I can only image how stunning it would be in the snow!

How do you get from Beijing to Mutianyu?  We hired a private car through our hotel.  Non - English speaker, but there really is nothing to see on the route so no talking is required.  It is a one and a half hour drive.

There is a lot of walking and climbing steps but you can take your time and really enjoy the amazing views.

 

 

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Where have we been?

We are living in Virginia and still traveling!

It is hard to believe but my last post on our travel blog was in May of 2016 and it was a trip we took in May of 2105!  I am not sure why I stopped blogging.... but I miss it.

In August of 2015 we relocated back to the United States and it was a much more difficult transition then I could ever imagine.  We were frantically traveling before heading home, along with the giant task of packing up our entire home to move to the other side of the world.  There was no time to blog and once you get out of the habit it is hard to keep it going. 

But I AM READY to get back into the groove of blogging!  I have so many exciting trips to share.

We continue to travel.... D quite a bit!  In fact, we will head off to Greece in a few weeks and on the way home he will hit his million miles on United!  Technically, he hit it a long time ago if you count ALL of our travels, but while we lived in Brussels and Singapore we rarely flew on United so our miles are spread across many airlines.  I probably have one million under my belt as well!

So check back soon - I will be posting trips from Beijing and the Great Wall, Sri Lanka, Japan, Vietnam, Bangkok, Bali, California, Paris, Brussels, three fabulous weeks in Italy, and Singapore (I have been back twice since we left, D has been back five times!)  I asked him if we really should still be living there  :  )

 

     
 

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Snapshots from Korea

 

Seoul, Korea

May 2015

 

 

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Seoul

 

 

 

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Cone
 

 

 

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Jeju Island, Korea

 

 

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Cupcake men

 

 

 

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We really enjoyed Seoul and wished we had more time to explore the city. 

We ended up having less than two days there due to the conference D had to attend on Jeju Island. 

A fun fact about the route from Seoul to Jeju Island, it is the WORLD"S busiest passenger air route.





     
 
 
   
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