Over the years, while in college and being on my own, I discovered my innate ability to plan things. I love planning trips, usually weeks even months ahead of the actual date of the event. One example is me coming to China: I sent my application in December nearly nine months before my planned trip, got a response by January and booked my tickets in February; I learned from most of my colleagues in China that they didn't book there tickets till a month in advance and one did it the day before. When you live in China you discover that the people and the government work completely different from the outside world. Example of this: in the US you can book train tickets, especially sleeper train tickets months in advance, but in China you can only buy a tickets 18 days in advance. It's quite hectic especially during holiday season and you can't book the tickets online, which makes it very time-consuming considering you don't speak the language so you have to bring a translator. Even when ordering plane tickets to go outside of the country you need to use either a) a foreign debit/credit card or b) a Chinese credit card (which run about 5,000 RMB just to get one). It's quite complicated, but China is only interested in keeping it's RMB inside the country not watching it leave.
But the reason I bring these travel issues up is because I will be traveling to Beijing in a couple days for the Chinese Spring Festival (aka Chinese New Year = Year of the Snake). Getting tickets was quite complicated and hectic, as I am told getting on and off the train will also be hectic (quite like my holiday bus experience). Luckily, I will riding with a friend for the 12 hour train ride, and it will make my first Chinese train ride experience more comfortable. On the way back however I will be alone, but have one experience under my belt (also it will be a 20 hour train ride, which hopefully I will sleep through most of it).
Anyway, I have a list of Fun Things To Do while I am in Beijing for 5.5 days (besides all the important stuff I need to get done and it's snowing in Beijing and the air is bad so some things I might not be able to do till later):
1) The Great Wall
Of course this is number one on my list I saw this quote a while ago that said., "He who has not climbed The Great Wall is not a true man" Mao Zedong. Well, if we add she/woman to that statement that means I have to go. I don't want to visit a very touristy spot I want to go where the wall is old and crumbly and hasn't been retouched; those spots make the best pictures and memories I think (and cheaper entrance fee lol).
2) The Palace Museum
All my students mention it as something to see while in Beijing so I thought I would check it out and be surprised as to what I find.
3) Tiananmen Square
One of the largest public squares in China, which is also the birth place to one of the largest protests China has ever seen (for pro-democracy I believe, which I learned in History during high school). This is also located near the Gate of Heavenly Peace, which I could also possible check out.
4) Beijing Underground City
Umm, yes I really do want go see these underground tunnels that were created in case of a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Bomb shelters make awesome pictures, especially since I watch The Walking Dead religiously and I'm not even religious LOL. The tunnels also make a great passage to the Silk Market.
5) The Silk Market
The name actually intrigues me more than anything and possibly the experience of wandering through millions of street vendors selling knock-offs and similar items over and over again. Maybe I will pick up something just for the sake of saying, "I was here."
6) The Forbidden City
The word "Forbidden" makes me want to go. Besides that this place has a lot of history and a lot of stories and tapestries to be looked at.
7) Beijing Zoo
I love taking pictures of animals and zoo's are the easiest places to see animals. Plus, the damn Panda's are so cute; they have a Giant Panda house! There is also an aquarium!
8) Beijing Botanic Gardens Conservatory
It's winter so the outside garden is pretty pointless, but the conservatories hold many different species of plants that have to be kept at different temperatures to survive. They have over 300 species of orchids and over 500 medicinal plants. There are also several Buddhist temples on the property, which brings me to number 9.
9) The Reclining Buddha
This is located on the same property as the Botanic Gardens, so I thought it would be good to go and see while I am there. I like my Buddha pictures.
10) The Pearl Market
Very cheap pearls! What woman wouldn't go here? Especially right before Valentine's Day? Plus, there is other cheap souvenir stuff to find there.
11) Marco Polo Bridge
I think I would just like to go on this bridge to scream "Marco!" and see if someone responds with "Polo!" LOL and of course for pictures since it is made out of gray marble.
12) Beijing Olympic Center
Yeah, it's not thousands of years old, but hey, it's apart of China's history now and it is a pretty awesome structure to take some photos of. And! I have never been to an Olympic arena before have you?
I may not be able to do some of these things because I only really have 5 days, but I'm going to make the most of them; and of course eat lots of western food, like Mexican; because, god, do I miss Mexican food and margaritas!