While I left Beijing under the Sun (the 23th), arriving back in the mid afternoon the 26th was another story: grey sky and low visibility. The next days in Beijing were almost under this grey and rainy weather.
In Beijing, I enjoyed to meet again Anna, Lingli and Martin, all met before in Frankfurt. I was supposed to fly with Anna and Lingli to Bangkok on the 30th but this flight got canceled, causing us quite a lot of stress (and many calls, mostly for Lingli in Chinese) the few days together.
Even more than Shanghai, Beijing is crowded everywhere, particularly in the metro and touristic places. Quite a choc after the empty Mongolia!
Anna and I spent one day in the Forbidden City. There are plenty of halls inside, which would have better delivered their rich colors in a sunny day. The majority of the halls are just visible through a window where the tourists are fighting to shot a picture. And yes, the Chinese might be even crazier than the Japanese with their cameras. They shot all items! And a lot of them have very expensive DSLR! Some halls required extra ticket (the main ticket is 60 RMB, the 2 extra are 10 each), and they are worth it because you can really enter in these! And as Olivier’s friend recommended me, the Clock Exhibition Hall is very impressive: most of the clocks from the 19th century are made in England, but mix the European and Asian cultures very interestingly. Were some clocks built over Elephants some inspiration for Terry Pratchett? Going through the other halls, we were soon kicked out by the people closing everything up to 30 min before the global closing time of the city (17:00)! I wish I had more time there (5 hours were not enough!) On the other side, we were already tired from the day!
As we got a replacement fly to Bangkok for the 29th, we got one day less in Beijing. This pushed us to go the Great Wall on the 28th. There are many sites to visit the Great Wall. The most popular is Badaling but since we wanted to avoid the Chinese crow, we made our decision the 27th at 10pm to take the tour to Jinslingli proposed by my hostel starting only 8 hours later. And the heavy rain prevented Anna to come back to her hotel.
Hiking on the Great Wall was an amazing experience! We went east from Jinshanling until we could not go further! The wall is much damaged at some parts. And indeed, the former hike to Simatai is not possible anymore. The deep fog over the Wall was somehow nervous because we could not have the nice view. But it made also the hike very mysterious, especially at some parts when you don’t see anybody anymore and no more than 20m above!
What a nice sunny weather we got the 29th! A marvelous visit to the Summer Palace! Between different temples, we enjoyed the walk around the lake until the island. In order to shorten the way back, we took a pedal-boat taxi where I was the 2nd to pedal.
We had to leave around 4pm in order to catch our flight at 20:20 (over one hour back to the hostel, ½ hours to get the luggage, and another 1 hour to arrive in the airport). I met Lingli and Anna at 7pm since we wanted to check in together. But as a Chinese citizen, Ling could not check in because she had not the visa for Thailand. Normally (as written in official web sites), she could get visa on arrival since their trip is less than 15 days. But no way, the Chinese police and Air line refused that!
As she wanted the most to go to Thailand, we decided to stay together and change our flight to the next one, planed for the first of August.