Beijing Vs Shanghai
I can’t believe 1 month has flown by so quickly, but at the same time it feels as though I’ve been in Shanghai for ages. Fully immersing myself into the Shanghainese lifestyle, I feel as though I’ve become a local (a few friends from back home have started to call me ChinaHang).
On our third weekend, a group of interns and I decided to travel to Beijing. We took the overnight train, opting for comfortable soft sleeper beds; this was one of our best decisions yet, as we had an amazing night’s rest before the chaotic couple of days that lay ahead.
Arriving in Beijing we headed straight for the Great wall at Mutianyu which, in my opinion, is the best part of the wall to visit. The location of the site is far enough so that we didn’t have to push our way through the hordes of tourists, but close enough that the trip there wasn’t too troublesome (one and a half hour bus ride and 15 minute car ride). Opting for the chairlift up to the wall and toboggan ride down set us back 135RMB each (this included entry onto the wall).
Walking/climbing the Great wall was an exhilarating, exhausting and sweaty experience; we were expecting a light thunderstorm as forecasted, but what we got was what seemed like 35 degree heat.
That night, we treated ourselves to the famous Beijing Peking duck at Dadong (a famous Peking duck restaurant). We were going to follow up the awesome meal with trip to the night market for some deep fried scorpions/bugs/whatever we could muster the courage to eat however; we were unfortunately met with the previously promised rainstorm.
The following day consisted of an early morning trip to Tiananmen Square, followed by being swamped with hordes of tourists at the Forbidden Palace and then to Jingshan Park. Jingshan Park was the perfect place to catch our breath as it provided an amazing panoramic view of the Forbidden City, as well as Beijing itself.
After a quick visit to an old friend’s neighborhood for lunch, we moved onto the Temple of Heaven before catching our High speed train back to Shanghai. Our Beijing trip was amazing, exhilarating, exhausting and most importantly a great learning experience.
One tip to anyone planning to go: beware of Beijing taxis, never ever give them large notes and try to secretly take a picture of their license/number plate if you think they’re dodgy (we got scammed for about 600RMB). The taxi we got into looked legit, at the end of the ride the driver gave us 60RMB wanting 100RMB in return. When we gave him our 100RMB, he pulled a fast one on us and switched our real money for fakes, then giving it back to us saying it was fake and demanding another one, etc. Thankfully this only happened at the end of our trip so it didn’t ruin the mood; however it did give us a very bad impression of Beijing and its people, especially since this wasn’t the only dodgy taxi we had come across in our 2 days in Beijing.
Back home in Shanghai, I couldn’t wait to recount my stories to my colleagues, who were outraged and ashamed that we got scammed as they felt it would leave us with a bad impression of China and Chinese people in general.
As many interns prepare to leave, we had our formal farewell dinner with hotpot, which was an interesting experience as we got to taste frog, intestines, stomach lining, cow’s tongue, and a variety of other weird things (being of Vietnamese descent I’ve had most of these before, so I wasn’t too fazed). Sending friends off one by one was an awful experience and I had at several times wanted to go with them, being one of the only ones left behind is hard; the friendship we’ve forged over the past month however, will last for a long time and I know I will be meeting everyone again (already planning for a reunion).
Our month ended with a welcome dinner to meet the new interns that have just joined the program and, similarly to the previous month, we all headed out for a night of dancing and a lot of drinking to get to know each other.
My first month in Shanghai so far has been amazing; I can’t wait for what’s to come for my final month in China.