Travel Report Beijing, China

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Travel Report Beijing, China

Beijing, China
one stop on Wendy's & Joe's world tour 2004/05

Beijing, Great Wall of China, Forbidden Palace


Kind of travel: Travelling alone
Year of this voyage: 2004
Author's age: 30-45 years

Journal Update 20th Sept 2004 / Tiananmen Square Beijing China / Beijing Railway Station
Hi folks,
It is about 3.40pm and we are now in Beijing after catching the Shanghai to Beijing Express train through the night (which left at 7.00pm and arrived about 7.00 am). The train was very impressive, especially as it was a brand new model and we were had the luxury of a soft sleeper which is a cabin that sleeps 4. We had the lower berths and above Joe was a very quiet guy and above me a very nice Chinese girl called Daisy who was a great assistance on our arrival in Beijing as she helped us navigate our way through the mass and helped to negotiate a hotel room for us on arrival. The train journey was very exciting, especially the exploration of the other cabins and Joe got particularly excited by the dining car and the galley where chefs were conjuring up lots of exotic dishes with a flick of the wrist and the sizzle of the wok. We had bought some delicious brown bread for the journey (which is very difficult to find here in China) and some cheese (which wasn't really needed as we were served food at about 20.00 hours. The food was the usual Chinese plane food of sliced sausage and rice plus strange pickles and bean buns.

Daisy spoke very good English and it transpired she was an art teacher who is married to quite a famous artist in China. After a cup of Jasmin tea I read Paul Therouxs "Riding The Red Rooster" which is an excellent book about his train journey through China in the 80's. Joe read September's issue of Vogue Magazine and Daisy played her walkman. Whilst the quite man curled up and read his paper quietly. After, we fell in to a deep sleep and woke about 5.00am to the sun streaming through the cabins net curtains. As we looked out we saw that people were wearing coats and practicing Tai Chi and we saw lots of people riding their bikes to work. Suffice to say that Beijing is the biggest culture shock we have had on this trip. It's a very strange and alien place, kind of dusty and Russian.

We certainly had warmed to Shanghai by the time we had left and we certainly did plenty of sight seeing and walking. By the time we moved on we had seen the Shanghai Museum, Been up and down the Pearl Tower, travelled along the Yangtze River, visited the pre-revolutionary Sun Yatsens 1930s home, visited the old town.

We walked along the Bund, which was the old British concession and seen the art deco splendour of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank as well as exploring the green boulevards of French Town and The Peoples Square where there is a section which is dedicated to the speaking and practicing of English.

If anyone is planning to visit Shanghai I would recommend the YHA we stayed in called "The Captains Hostel". Right off the Bund it was a splendid place where the staff wore aunty sailors outfits!

We are now in Tiananmen Square staying in a very shitty and noisy Chinese hotel where the glass rattles and the smells from the street vendors cooking strange Chinese dishes permeates your nostrils 24/7.

Off to explore the shops and the square-plenty of sable fur coats, nylon wool jumpers and crimplene trousers (trendy, Beijing is not).

Journal Update 23rd Sept 2004 / Uncle Mao Beijing, China
Hello all
We are still in Beijing and have just come back from visiting Chairman Mao's Mausoleum. We lined up with thousands of Chinese to pay our respects and surprisingly the massive line went down in half an hour. Mao was covered in a hammer and sickle flag and looked like he was lit from within by a thousand watt light bulb.

Yesterday we visited the Forbidden City which is right in the centre of Beijing. It is pretty spectacular (even though there were about a million Chinese tour group wearing Lemon and red hats, carrying little flags and hoicking up into spittoons. In fact my nerves are shattered by the constant dodging of flying phlegm YUCK.) Can you believe there is a Starbucks Coffee shop inside the Forbidden Palace? We have decided to forgo Korea as we are running out of time, so we are planning to make the run back to Hong Kong via train instead but Joe has his heart set on the Trans Siberian Railway to Moscow, which is possible as we are now so close. But the beaches of Indonesia beckon us.

Journal Update 24th Sept 2004 / Beijing, The Great Wall of China
Well we wanted to see The Great Wall of China and we did at the expense of our sanity and two very sore bottoms! We set of at 7.00am (bright eyed and bushy tailed) to catch the tour bus. Two hours later the tour bus hadn't yet left. Then it filled up with a Chinese tour group and we were off.

An hour and a half later, we were at our destination (The Great Wall) which we had a jog around. Then the bus visited a Jade shop, then the bus visited a fun fair, then the bus visited a supermarket (where everyone bought Peking Duck), then the bus visited a temple, then the bus visited a Chinese pharmaceutical company, and on, and on:

We had a video and a sing-a-long. A running talk in Chinese for 6 hours by the guide who held her mike like a rapper and shouted into the mike at ear splitting levels! A gaggle of Chinese with a constant ring of mobile phones, who got very worried when we tried to escape and kept running after us.

Well the wall was good but we have promised ourselves NEVER AGAIN.

We have bought our tickets back to Kowloon and are leaving the day after tomorrow. We are travelling back on the Express train.

Journal Update 25th Sept 2004 / Beijing, China
Lost In The Forbidden Places
We bid a fond farewell to Beijing tomorrow and are due to take the train across the country on the Express to Kowloon (Hong Kong). After the tedium of yesterdays Chinese tour group we have had a fantastic final day doing what we like doing best. Looking around junk shops and riding around on a rickshaw round all the old hutongs of Beijing. The hutongs are the old back alleys of Beijing that contain courtyard houses.

These historic places are quickly being bulldozed because all the streets are being widened in preparation for the Olympic Games. It was nice because we saw another part of this city apart from the wide concrete boulevards and huge concrete buildings.

So now we will tell you the highs and lows of our trips so far:

  • Seeing a real live panda in Shanghai zoo (although his fur was knarled and brown)
  • Seeing Tianenman Square at night time, all lit up with kids flying kites
  • Riding the luxurious express train from Shanghai to Beijing all through the night
  • Seeing the Forbidden City
  • Wandering in to the Forbidden City at night and getting lost
  • Buying Marc Jacobs clothes at .5% of the price in England Cheap beer -20p for a 650 mil bottle of Tsing TaoRiding the Metro around Beijing (without being able to read anything and 20p for a ride anywhere).
  • The Military Musuem in Beijing
  • Street markets selling strange food such as live turtles, dog and snake
  • Old ladies giving you the thumbs up
  • Splendid scenery in Yangshou
  • Cheap taxis- about a pound a time

Joseph Brilus
Joseph Brilus

Wendy Brierley
Wendy Brierley


We decided to blow the deposit for a house on a grand world tour through 2004. We booked through STA travel and put together a brief itinerary including the Far East, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. As it turned out we experienced China, Bali, Fiji and many more places in between.

We decided to end the trip with a wedding in Las Vegas (which was very memorable!) As a wedding present my brother put together an on-line travel blog for us which was a great tool for documenting our journey. This experience truly changed our lives and we encountered many fantastic people through out the world. I hope you enjoy reading some highlights of our journal!

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Lows: Hoick spit, hoick spit, hoick spit.
More Lows:

  • The Chinese shout at each other all the time from morning through to night
  • Pushing in, queue jumping and more shouting
  • Chinese tour groups and tour group leaders
  • Being asked 50 times a day if you want to buy a tourist map
  • Chinese toilets and the smell of wee in the under passes
  • Dodging the flying spit
  • Bad hair cuts
  • Bad shoes
  • Only hard seats available to Shenzhen and 30 hours journey
  • Being referred to all the time as a foreigner Diahorrea
  • Getting lost at Beijing West station and walking around for two hours
  • PS. Did you know Beijing is the size of Belgium

Wendy Brierley

a further stop on Wendy's & Joe's world tour 2004/05

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Travel Report Beijing, China