Beijing, China: Where the Great Wall stands

Whenever I tell the story of the time my friend and I traveled to Beijing, China, I always start it with this: “So my friend came to Hong Kong with me and wanted to go to China as well to see the Great Wall, I warned her beforehand that she might not like Beijing as much as Hong Kong because of the cultural differences (mainly because of the squatting toilets) but she didn’t believe me… well, she ended up hating it.”

So that might be a slight exaggeration, she didn’t particularly hate it, she did refuse to go to any of the toilets outside of our hotel though. Asides from that and her being occasionally pointed at being a “foreigner” in China, we had a great time. Our first stop was at the Beijing National Stadium (aka the Bird’s Nest). This was the stadium built especially for the 2008 summer Olympics event. The architecture carried a modern sense to it’s design and although when we visited it was all but an empty stadium, we could just imagine the crowd’s commotion during the event.

We also visited the Forbidden City, getting a sense of how many of the Chinese Emperors lived. The palace had so many different sections that were for the different people who held different titles in the royal hierarchy. I may have thought of all the ancient based television shows while roaming around the Forbidden City, thinking of actors and actresses pretending to be emperors, empresses and concubines. Wondering how life would’ve been if I were born in that era, how different life would’ve been for women.

Lastly, of course we ended up at the Great Wall of China…or also known as, the main attraction/purpose of this trip. The weather was not promising either, it rained the whole way through our climb up the wall. It was like the Great Wall of China and the weather came together and thought, “Hey, these overly steep and raggedy steps are too easy to climb, let’s add in a rainstorm and make it slippery so these girls could feel like they’re going to slip and tumble down!” Needless to say, we didn’t get far.

Overall, the trip was only fun because my friend and I had joined a tour that left us with a lot of funny memories (including this 50 something year old man who jokingly called us his favourite and his “girlfriends” while his wife would laugh at him, slightly embarrassed). We also had a tour guide who legit did not care about us most of the time as he ran ahead of our tour, walking way too fast for us to catch up. Half the time we wondered if he was actually purposely trying to get rid of us. I guess we’ll never know.

[All images are my own]

Claudia Cheung