Xian – Day Two

We had a great breakfast at our hotel before traveling to see the Terracota Warriors. It’s hard to believe that they were only discovered in the 1970s. We started with a short (and probably skippable) film and then headed to see the pits. 

There are three pits that were excavated and each had various warriors. We also saw horses and chariots. I couldn’t believe how many were there and how they have even so carefully put back together. I also bought my son some miniature warriors to play with on our way out. 

We had lunch at another local restaurant and I really liked the spicy noodles. I think my mouth is still on fire. 

We went to Muslim Street back in the central part of Xian next. Chinese Muslims live here and they have made a pedestrian street filled with shops and food vendors. We saw some strange food items, including goat’s feet. I bought a silk bathrobe and some bracelets to give as gifts too. 


Xian – Day One

We flew from Beijing to Xian, which is about a 2 hour flight. With the traffic in China we are becoming extremely familiar with, we finally arrived at our hotel a little after lunch. We grabbed something quick at the cafe there and headed out to the city wall. We rented a tandem bicycle and cycled around the wall. It would take about 2 hours to go all around it, so we rode for about 30 minutes and then started back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.

It took over 30 minutes to find a can to take us back to the hotel. Apparently the drivers here are in short supply and can pick where they want to go. We finally begged one to take us paying double what we should have.

We went to a Tang Dynasty dinner show at night and had a dumpling dinner. It was neat to try all of the different kinds. The show was pretty impressive with music and dancing from that time period.

Longqing Gorge and Ming Tombs

We started our day with a drive out to the Longqing Gorge, which is normally a summer and winter resort area for Beijingers. We went up a large escalator inside a dragon on the side of the moutain and arrived at the boat dock. We took a boat ride through the gorge and enjoyed the scenery and mountains. 

We stopped off at the Diamond Temple to see the Buddha there and then took the boat back to the dock. We went with our guide to another local restaurant and he ordered some interesting items this time, including pig intestines. No thanks on that one, but the glass noodles were so good. 

After lunch we toured the Ming Tombs, which have been uncovered and opened to the public. We went through the Dingling tomb, which had been ransacked during the a Cultural Revolution. It was still amazingly to see the structure they built. 

After a rest at the hotel, we went to a hutong for diner at TRB, one of the newest restaurants in Beijing. It is seriously my new favorite restaurant. They greeted us with champagne and appetizers before we even ordered and then kept brining out thugs between courses too. My favorite was prosecco poured over lemon ice. We clearly saved the best for our last night in Beijing. 

Great Wall of China

We were very excited for our day of hiking along the Great Wall. I had done a ton of research about the different areas you could visit and we definitely wanted to avoid the most touristic one. The crowds there are supposedly wall to wall.

We drove almost two hours from Beijing to a small village at the base of the Jiankou section of the wall. We hiked about an hour straight update to the wall, which was part of the crumbling and unrestored section. The views were amazing and it was so neat to see this part of the wall.

Then we started our hike along the actual wall. Some of it was overgrown with plants and around each bend were beautiful views. It took us a few hours to reach the more touristy Mutianyu section. There were many more people here but still not as many as the more popular Badaling section. 

We had the option to take a toboggan down the wall or a cable car and we chose the toboggan. It was actually quite a long ride and really fun. We drove to another small village and had a typical lunch of several stir fry dishes, including an excellent cauliflower one. 

We had a long ride back to our hotel in traffic. I can’t believe how much traffic there is here. We decided to take the subway to dinner instead of a cab. We ate at Capital M and sat outside overlooking Tiananmen Square. It was beautiful all lit up. 

Beijing Day Three

We started out our third day in Beijing by visiting the Lama Temple, a large Buddhist temple in the hutong district. It was interesting to watch the people burn incense and make offerings to Buddha. 

For lunch we took a cooking class as learned to make garlic broccoli, pepper beef, and beef stir fry noodles. Everything was so delicious and we also got to takeu e recipes home. 

After lunch we toured the Forbidden City complex. I couldn’t believe how large it was. We kept going through more and more courtyards! The architecture is beautiful though and it was amazing how much they were able to build. 

We went back to the hutong area and took a rickshaw ride around the narrow alleyways. We stopped off at a typical home there and got to see the courtyard and houses. The rain had held out so far but then the skies opened up and it started pouring. We got back into the rickshaw and had a soaking ride back to our car. It was fun and luckily not too long. 

We had dinner reservations not too far away so we decided to wait out the rain in Starbucks until dinner. Unfortunately our guide showed us the old location of the restaurant so when we showed up, it was closed. We walked around for a bit and found Peking Cafe, and had some pizza and pasta before taking the subway back to the hotel. 

Beijing Day Two

We had a great dinner at Dadong Roast Duck last night. We ended up ordering a half duck along with the condiments for it. The sauce was super good and I really liked the cucumber slices with it. 

This morning, our guide met us at the hotel and we headed off to the Temple of Heaven.  Most of the older people in China hang out at parks during the day, doing activities like dancing, calligraphy or playing cards. It was interesting to see this part of normal life. The temple was originally meant as the place where the Emperor would go twice a year to talk to God. The structures were beautiful and symbolic. 

My husband and I got so many looks today and two groups even stopped us and asked to take pictures with us. Apparently many of the Chinese tourists here have never seen westerners before. 

After the Temple of Heaven, we went to the Pearl Market. We got some souvenir gifts for our family at home and also looked at some jade jewelry I was eyeing. After debating dropping some money on a super nice piece, I ended up just getting a simple bracelet. 

We ate lunch at a local place called Da Wan Ju. Our guide ordered noodles, pineapple chicken, spicy beef and a peanut cabbage appetizer. Everything was really good, but even better was not having to worry about ordering!

After lunch we went to the Summer Palace. It is a huge complex with a large lake, temples and former living quarters of the emperor, empress, and concubines. We walked the length of the Long Corridor, which had beautiful paintings all along it. 

We ate dinner at our hotel’s Italian restaurant tonight and had excellent pastas. We figured we would be having plenty of Chinese food over the next few days. 

Beijing Day One

Every year, my husband and I get away for a week without the kids. We heard a sermon once that it is essential to do this to maintain a healthy marriage and we completely agree. We take turns picking the place and this year it was his choice. 

We arrived in Beijing early this morning and luckily our hotel had our room ready so we were able to shower and change before hitting our day of sightseeing. Starting tomorrow we will have a guide with us, but we were on our own today. The language barrier was brutal; very few people speak English so asking for directions was almost impossible. 

We took the subway to Tiananmen Square and marveled at all the people. We toured the National Museum and really enjoyed the Ancient China exhibit.  After finding some questionable food for lunch, we went through Prince Gong’s Mansion, an example of a courtyard complex in the hutong area. 

Finally, we walked through the Silk Market and also got foot massages there. They were much needed. We are headed out to dinner tonight to Dadong Roast Duck, which is supposedly one of the best places to eat Peking Duck. I hope it’s good because I am starving!