Beijing Is Not Beautiful! Or Maybe It Is…
The smog was the first thing to notice upon our arrival in Beijing. While landing in the airplane we couldn’t see the ground until about 5 minutes before we touched down. It was kind of disappointing because I love to see a new city from the sky! We arrived in the afternoon and took the train into the city. It was actually very simple and much cheaper than a taxi. After checking in at the hotel we got lunch at Din Tai Fung in a nearby mall. We purposefully went to Din Tai Fung for the soup dumplings, which were absolutely delicious. We also had chocolate dessert dumplings that were like warm chocolate pudding inside a dumpling and therefore pretty life changing.
By this time it was only early afternoon and we had lots of exploring to do. Beijing is not very tourist friendly, transportations is very hard to come by. The subway stations are VERY far apart and unfortunately the stations aren’t very close to the major tourist attractions either. There are very few taxis and if you do get one to stop the drivers are quite rude and often wont take you where you want anyways. The buses are packed to the brim but as long as you aren’t claustrophobic I would imagine they are the best option. For all the above reasons we ended up walking a very long way the first day.
How To Get Scammed in China
We were trying to get to Tiananmen Square and after walking for about 30 minutes we got caught in a tourist tuk-tuk scam. We did not realize that tuk-tuks are actually illegal in Beijing so we asked for a ride and hopped in after agreeing upon the price of 30CNY (about $4.30). The ride was quite nice after having walked for so long. Red flag #1 was when the driver dropped us off in a sketchy apartment parking lot and told us to walk straight and cross the street to get to our destination. He then asked for his 300CNY ($43) which was NOT the agreed upon price.
Here is the best way ever to get out of a tourist scam. What they are doing is illegal anyways so I just created a scene which the driver did not want since he was doing sketchy stuff. So I told him loudly that I would pay him the 30 or nothing…. those were his choices. He argued for a second but as soon as I started yelling he shut it down pretty quickly and we walked away. Turns out the price should have been more like 3CNY than 30CNY anyways but hey, you do what you can!
Finally we were at Tiananmen Square! Everything is completely blocked off, there are fences along the roads so you can’t cross the street or stop your car. There is really only one way in and out and you have to go through security before entering the area. We passed the mausoleum that holds Mao’s body but were unable to go in which left us with the square. Now listen, I understand that this place has huge historical importance but if we are being totally honest, there is not really that much to LOOK at. The area itself if huge and there were some military formations walking through which was interesting. There is a huge police/military presence in the area and somber armed guards are standing all around.
Peking Duck Is Delicious
We made the LONG walk back to the hotel and had them give us directions to a famous Peking duck restaurant nearby. The restaurant was packed and we had to wait for a table. The decor was very fancy and the menu was huge. They carved the duck tableside and it was so delicious, see a video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GY6MSehlk5Q
Want to see a recap video of our China adventures? Check it out here: https://youtu.be/KF7oCvpTvok