Wanderlust in Beijing: The Great Wall

It was one amazing weekend.  I haven’t travelled much in China although he has.  I took the speed train to meet T in Beijing.  Must say, the speed train is AMAZING!!! SO comfortable, better than any train we’ve taken in Europe, silent, smooth, and fast.  Much faster than air cos there is none of that air traffic delay.  And you can look out at the scenery.

Visiting Beijing gave me a whole new perspective on “SIZE”.  The roads were HUGE.   6 lanes of cars – in one direction.  It took a full 10 minutes to cross a road.  There were people everywhere.  EVERYWHERE.   And yet things were quite orderly, given how big and populated the place is.  The subways somehow, were less crowded than in Shanghai in the peak hours.  But the traffic congestion was much worse than in Shanghai!  I won’t complain about Shanghai traffic anymore! :)  The accent – was so distinct!  I got into a taxi, and immediately the driver’s accent was so…Beijing.  

The FOOD – was YUMMY!!!!  It was really distinct and different from Southern Chinese or Shanghainese food.  People also seemed more laid back than in Shanghai (i know I’m comparing! but i still love shanghai better! hehe).

DAY 1 at the Beijing Great Wall 

It was just after 4 and we took a taxi to the park opposite the Forbidden City.  We reached at about 4.30 and i looked up at the never ending stairs – no way we’ll make it before the sunsets.  “We will, we will, hurrrryyyyy!!! Just a few more hundred steps….”  He grabbed my hand and almost dragged me up the stairs.  We arrived to the top…me..of course…panting.  I turned around…. and I remember that moment. I literally gasped when I saw the view below of the Forbidden City.  I had no idea this view was waiting for us.  I thought such views were taken by a helicopter from the top!  It was huge.  H.U.G.E.  And on the other side.. the sun was setting and we felt so so lucky to be able to see such a beautiful sunset in Beijing of all places!

The next day, Mariko came to our hotel at 7 am!  We got up early to catch the 8.30 bus to go to Jin Sha Lin.  T absolutely did not want to go to Ba Da Ling Great Wall and insisted to spend an entire day to visit this site that is  3 hours outside the city.   As we arrived… we felt a little strange… there were NO hoards of tourist buses!  In fact, we were the only bus, and a handful or private cars. There was only 1 restaurant, and we ate some fried rice (luckily because there were NO other food once past this restaurant).  It was a huge restaurant – and we were the only guests.

We walked into the “attraction”, and really there was none.  “Are you sure there is a great wall here???  there is none!!!”   And then we spotted the stairs…. climbed up… and again , the view literally took our breaths away.  It was endless rolling lush green hills, against a blue blue sky, with clouds that looked like they came out from a cloud chimney in a children’s cartoon.

By now we had been to Guilin and Zheng Jia Jie… but we hadn’t seen anything historical yet in China (at least me!).  The view from above is a MUST see if you ever go to Beijing. And the Great Wall – SKIP the famous Ba Da Ling that would be lined with tourists and go here instead!  It is so worth it…. endless rolling green hills.  The Wall went on and on and on….  The space was so vast, and in the middle of no where.  I could not imagine in those days, people BUILDING it, then MAINTAINING it.  And how do you guard it!??  The food and water that would be needed to bring up to the guards there..

Have you been to the Great Wall?  Which one did you visit?  Would love to know any tips!

For those of you who are interested, this is how we planned the weekend.  I’ll be sharing more pics soon! :)  For details of this day, scroll to the bottom.

  • Friday evening: Sunset at the Forbidden Park (Jing Shan Park) + dinner in Hutong area
  • Saturday: The Great Wall at Jin Sha Lin + Visit to Nest Stadium + Dinner at San Li Tun
  • Sunday: Forbidden City.  Yes it is enough for an entire day. + Beijing Duck
  • Monday: Summer Palace + Temple of Heaven + Return home

Beijing Forbidden CityPINIMAGEView from the highest pavilion in the park opposite

Beijing TravelPINIMAGEreally recommend going to Beijing in Summer/Autumn when the skies are like THIS!

Beijing PhotographerPINIMAGEBeijing Great WallPINIMAGEJinShanLing Great WallPINIMAGETravel to BeijingPINIMAGEyes, i do the climbs in a dress because it is HOT! 

BaDaLing Great WallPINIMAGEShanghai Travel PhotographerPINIMAGEBeijing Night LifePINIMAGEcan you tell how big this site is??  the people are like little sticks…

Beijing FoodPINIMAGE

When i saw a picture of this dish, I immediately asked for it.  Pig liver is common but that thing that looks like squid – it is seldom used in cooking and it was a favourite dish growing up (of course, made Hakka style with rice wine and salted vegetable).  This was made Beijing style and was still delicious.

Beijing FoodPINIMAGEAnd this lamb… was….yummmyyyyyyyyyy.!!!!  Roasted so crispy and to dip in a delicious pepper mix.  And the YOGHURT.  Oh My Goodness.  It is the closest thing to a REAL Bengali FRESH yoghurt I have eaten outside of Calcutta.   Would go back to this restaurant just to eat the yoghurt.  I wish I could remember the name of the place we went.  We were with Mariko and her Japanese colleagues…. ordered like 10 dishes, beers, and then it was just 100 RMB per person.  In the going out area of Beijing.  Now, i need to find places like that in the heart of Shanghai too!  Any tips?



  • View of Forbidden City: At Jing Shan Park, a small fee of 2CNY
  • Jin Shan Lin Great Wall:  For details, click here .  You do NOT need to join a local tour at all!!!  The bus fare is just 60CNY (including return) and it leaves the Great Wall at about 3.30.  There is also a cable car that you can take, but we chose to walk up – a very easy walk.
  • San Li Tun: Click here.  We had dinner at this awesome place.

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