Exploring Beijing and the Beihai Park

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Exploring Beijing and the Beihai Park

Our first days in China were a mix of excitement, about visiting a country with a completely different culture, and confusion, as due to the different culture it is not easy to move around and go places.

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We had a day-long journey from the US, with a stopover in Taipei-Taiwan. There Ruth and Noah were the only ones to leave the airport. As I’m from Brazil I would have had to apply for a visa, but I decided not to go through the whole process for only a few hours there. Instead, I stayed in the VIP lounge at the airport, catching up on some posts and work. Ruth and Noah took a free of charge morning tour in the city of Taipei, offered at the airport, leaving enough time to come back to the airport, have lunch and still relax a bit before the flight to Beijing.

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It seemed like it was a nice, easy way to visit Taipei, but we were already looking forward to arriving in Beijing.

Arriving in Beijing

The flight was only a few hours long and very smooth. We arrived at the airport and there were two ladies who were in a bit of trouble. They were going to Mongolia but it looked like one of them thought she didn’t need a visa, and they were now trying to find a solution for this problem. We’re not sure what happened later, but we hope they were able to resolve it.

Meanwhile we had no issues entering China. As soon as we reached the main hall there were quite a few taxi drivers offering to take us anywhere we wanted. None of them spoke English, which made it difficult for us to communicate. We initially thought about taking the metro, but it was already dark and Noah was extremely tired (as were we). Following the advice of the hotel contact, we therefore took a metered taxi from out front rather than one of those offering a fixed price. It turned out well, as the ones offering a fixed price were charging almost double what we actually paid.

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Family Travel Secret
It is very important to try to find the official taxis offered at the airport. In Beijing, for instance, you just need to follow the signs for the taxi rank and not take any other that is offering a ride to the city. This is a good way to start saving money in the country.

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Noah was so tired that he slept the whole way in the taxi, and as soon as we entered the hotel he found a couch and immediately fell on it. It had been a long time since we’d seen him that tired. We were also very tired though, and so much so that I think just before 10pm the three of us were already snoring. That is remarkable, given we normally go to sleep after midnight …

Starting to explore China and Beijing

The next day we met one of Noah’s little friends from kindergarten. His mother is from China and they were spending their holidays there. It was good, as Noah had a fantastic day with his friend and they took us to visit the Beihai park, which was a former imperial garden and located just next to the Forbidden City.

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Before meeting them we visited the Drum and Bell Towers where a group of children was painting one of the towers, while others were dancing (very common in Chinese places) different styles or playing with a badminton shuttlecock.

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Before 12:00 we were on the west entrance of Beihai Park. This is a nice park full of families and with plenty of space for kids to run.

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As Noah is not oriental, he was a big attraction for the locals. Many of them even asked to take a picture with him. Initially he was fine with that, but after a while he got a bit tired of fake smiling for the cameras …

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Family Travel Secret
If you are not oriental, and particularly if you are exotic-looking, be aware that you will be very popular among the Chinese. Many times throughout the day they ask you to take pictures with them. Some are even indiscreet and simply pose next to you, and when you look there is a flash in your eyes. You have to get used to it and there is nothing you can do apart from pose and smile …

Inside the park there is the Nine Dragons Wall, where you have a nice view of the Beihai lake. Then we passed by the five pagodas and some other nice highlights of the park.

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We also took a ride in a boat shaped like a lotus flower … A very fun experience especially for children. So it would have been for the pics taken, if there hadn’t been so much pollution …

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Family Travel Secret
Although the pictures look with the seemingly cloudy sky ... For that particular day forecast was sunny and cloudless ... and it really was ... we just could not see the blue sky due to the heavy pollution in Beijing ... Even combined with a humidity of 97% and a haze that looked barely 30 meters away.

 

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We strolled down to the White Pagoda, that was visited by Ruth and Noah while  I was looking for something for us to eat.

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The way out of the park was also very nice and interesting.

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The next day it was raining a lot, so we decided to stay in, get some rest and compile the articles and pictures. We still had a bit of jet lag, so it wasn’t such a bad idea.

We were still getting used to the culture and local people so it was not clear to us the positive and negative parts in our first impression. We needed a bit more time to really get enchanted by this beautiful country. First time in Asia, so we had our reservations about what to do and what not to.

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But that was just the beginning. There were many good surprises that helped us to enjoy this beautiful culture and country along the way.

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Next stop the Great Wall – Mutianyu part!

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