Ok so here comes the first post about what can only be called an overwhelming trip to China! Our travel day started at the 0-Dark hundred hour of 4:30 to get to the airport for a 6:40 AM flight to San Francisco. Smooth 1.5 hour flight and a short 2 hour layover we were on our way again to Beijing. Both flights were on United and fairly smooth apart from getting 0 sleep since it was pretty much all during my normal waking hours. We arrived in Beijing just after 2 PM. Customs was pretty similar to any other passport control apart from the passport control kiosks also requesting all 10 of your finger prints.
Then you wait in a line with the kiosk receipt, go through passport control and customs. The process from getting off the plane to leaving the airport took just over an hour. (the line wasn’t too bad and we didn’t check bags) soo all in all not bad! We stopped at the first ATM in the airport we found to take out cash (which you need immediately to even leave the airport) then bought airport express metro tickets and hopped on the train. We had 2 interchanges on the metro that were pretty easy before getting off at the Wangfujing metro station and walking about 10 minutes to our hotel. The journey again took only around an hour so we got in right about 4:30 thoroughly exhausted.
As far as the metro went, everything was farily manageable. After the airport express we had to buy metro tickets for the subway portion. Both train types require cash for payment. All the signs around the subway were in English and to tell which direction you are going to go, the signs indicate the next stop on the line which I find easier than having to know the “end” of the line like in NYC. Our walk was smooth since I paid for the day to have data and we had a VPN so we could use Google maps. The walk was pretty beautiful as we started to see a lot of the big government buildings and downtown hotels. We did notice a TON of law enforcement out, be it security, police officers, and the army which we thought was pretty crazy but as we later learned it was more due to an international conference that was happening that same weekend.
Our hotel was pretty awesome. It was less than 10 minutes from the metro station, the reception staff were professional/friendly and even upgraded our room for free! So instead of window-less queen room we got a king with a spacious sun-room/balcony add on.
Once we were all settled, we checked out the rooftop of our hotel (awesome views) and decided we were too tired to explore much and to just eat dinner at our hotel’s restaurant.
The roofs of the Forbidden City as seen from our hotel roof!
Flowers and Forbidden City from the roof
The menu had photos but even still.. it’s hard to tell what stuff was so we ordered the traditional Peking duck and a pork dish. We we got was a LOT of things we didn’t know what to do with (including chop sticks! Whoops!) The duck was pretty good. We sorted out that we were supposed to make a small ball out of the pancakes with meat, spring onions strips, and zuchinni strips, then put some sauce, salt, sugar and spices in the mix. I thankfully was able to pick stuff up with the chop sticks but as far as rolling everything into a ball and eating it.. I barbarically had to use my hands. The other dish I thought was terrible with no redeeming qualities. Braden ate most of it for us though he said he didn’t enjoy it much either. Luckily there was enough of the duck dish to easily share. After dinner we paid (again had to pay with cash) and headed to bed for an early night.
Traditional Peking duck
Government Buildings all lit up at night
Day 1 Costs:
Airport express train $3.64
Dinner (pork and Beijing duck +1 drink) $24.78
Hotel: Tianan Rega Hotel $78.50/ night
Total Day 1: $107.80 for 2 people