Continuing on from my last post; we woke up at 7:30am, ate some breakfast in our hotel and we were off on the road by 8:30.
Great Wall – 10am
As one of the main reasons we come to China, you have to set some time out for this trip. Depending on what area of the wall you decide to go to the trip can take an hour to two hours each way. While the closest location is Badaling it is also the most crowded with tourists. It is the most up to date with a Great Wall Museum as well as a short ride to the Thirteen Ming Tombs, but if you’re willing to trek just a little bit further, about 30 mins, Mutianyu is much better. With there being a recently opened section of the wall there is more solitude as well as more hiking, so bring your sneakers! You will get vast unobstructed views of the wall and towers and a beautiful look over Mongolia.
Tip – There are a few things that we didn’t pack for this day trip that I wish we did and you should too: tissues and hand sanitizer. Most of the bathrooms that you will encounter while you’re visiting these sites are squatter toilets which most Americans are not used to (if you don’t know what it is, it’s a toilet where the bowl is on the floor and you squat down to use it. Pretty self explanatory). In most of the bathrooms there was no toilet paper, thank goodness there was a girl there with some extra tissues!
Jade – 1pm
We did the tourist thing and stopped at a jade factory; the one we went to was Beijing Dragonland Superior Jade Gallery. Since we were not with a tour group our experience may have been a little different. We had lunch at the connected restaurant which served Chinese food that was the closest thing to the Chinese food you would find in the states, and then given a short tour of the gallery. They employ two factory workers in the gallery to show how the pieces are made as well as give us wonderful information on how long a piece takes to make and how the techniques are passed down through family members. The pieces themselves were beautiful, but also expensive, which is what you get going to a tourist spot. So be wary of prices and always try to talk them down as this is a place where you can. This site will tell you how to tell if the jade is real.
Thirteen Ming Tombs – 4:30pm
To end our day we stopped over at the Thirteen Ming Tombs. The one that we went to go see, and the one that is most accessible, was the tomb of third Ming Emperor. If you’re in a rush you can drive directly to the site, but if you have the time I suggest taking the same walk as the emperors did to pay homage to their ancestors, especially on a nice sunny day. Inside the temple you will see all the relics from the Emperor inside; from wedding robes and and tapestries to gold plates and jade sculptures.
Dinner – 8pm
So, funny story, we made reservations at the restaurant TRB through our hotel without realizing that there are multiple locations. We thought we had the right one and walked to the main one (which is was not very far from the hotel, but we managed to get lost since the entry is behind a wall). We walked around the block for a while, kept seeing the same guy on a vespa who waved to us twice, and then walked in and found out that we were in the wrong place and they had made the reservation for TRB Bites. We waited for a while for a cab, but after twenty minutes the Maitre D’, Sarah Benahmed, graciously offered a table to us, and we were so glad she did!
The food was unbelievable! A wonderful blend of Chinese with French, the food came out with the hand only a classically trained chef would have. The menu encourages you to “Be Picky” and choose your courses and gives you the option of also doing a wine pairing, which was a no brainer!
Next up will be the last part of our trip, stay tuned! Let me know if there is anywhere that you went that you loved in the comments.