Location: Beijing, China
Editor’s note: We chanced upon Anabel’s GORGEOUS instagram account and was totally blown over. The mum of three has been to some beautiful destinations. It amazed us how she kept herself and the family looking so fabulous on the road – check out her gallery! So we reached out and persuaded her to share with us snippets from her private travel journal. Here’s the first, curated from her 11 Days China Tour – Two days in Beijing China, and a trip to the Great Wall of China. If you’ve ever wondered about climbing the Great Wall of China with a young child and a toddler with a stroller, read on!
We spent 11 Days in China, covering the cities of Beijing, Hong Kong and Xian in the trip. I went on this trip expecting the most foreign customs and exploring a very different culture and we certainly experienced it!
Beijing China is a long way from home. From Salt Lake City, it was an 11-hour flight to Narita Airport (Tokyo). We had use of the Delta Sky Lounge (thankfully) during the layover, before continuing with another 4-hour flight to Beijing, the first stop of our trip.
Our kids were troopers and travelled well! Even after almost 20 hours of travelling, B managed a smile when we finally landed in Beijing.
We were picky with our hotels on this trip. Knowing that we were in such a foreign country we wanted some normalcy, so we stayed in an American-based hotel chain we were familiar with. Upon arrival, we were given a welcomed surprised – an upgraded to an Executive Suite. It was the perfect place to unwind after our long, long journey.
On the itinerary: Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, Beijing Hutong Tour, Jingshan Garden
After breakfast in the hotel, we started our day sightseeing in Beijing.
Definitely packed with people so we didn’t linger too long. It was then onwards to the Forbidden City.
Just outside the city were many little shops with fun things – souvenirs – to buy.
We just selected a few things to see and carried on. Way too big to see everything – well maybe with a golf cart but they don’t offer that option!
After walking in the heat and humidity for a few hours, we decided it was time to exit.
Next we went on a tricycle tour of the Hutong.
The Hutong is the oldest neighbourhood in Beijing. The area is full of little alleys, tiny homes (holding up to 10 families), run down streets, and extremely humble living conditions. We welcomed the tricycle bike ride more than anything, so we could rest. This was truly an eye opening experience, and we felt we saw a slice of the real Beijing.
Jingshan park is right across from the Forbidden City. We headed to the gardens after our Hutong tour. The park was a nice break from the cars, crowds and buzzing sounds of the streets.
The views up at top were totally worth the hike! I had no idea there was a lake there, haha! The view at the platform – just a very small portion of the city of Beijing…
Further up the gardens was a Chinese Temple. Just opposite the temple was a stall with authentic Chinese clothing. For a small fee we got all dressed up and took pictures.
Unfortunately there was no shade and the sun was blazing down – it was hot and we were perspiring!
Our kids got a lot of attention everywhere we went…
On the itinerary: The Great Wall of China
Our big stop for the day was none other than THE GREAT WALL of China. We hired a driver for the day since the wall is about 1 hour from the city. He picked us up bright and early and we were on our way to see one of the 7 Wonders of the World!!
We picked the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China, because its further away from the city and thus a little less crowded. At the bottom of the wall are a ton of little shops. Still, less crowded is still quite crowded – as you will see!
We had taken a quick cable car ride up the Great Wall of China. Only to realise how foggy it was up there. And hot – oh the weather was hot in Beijing in June! We were sweating by the time we disembarked from the cable car! From then on we took refuge at every tower we reach – that will be the covered shelter in the picture. It was cool and windy in there.
Still we had a long way to go. When I mapped out our path I picked the direction that would take us downhill so luckily we didn’t have to worry about climbing up otherwise we would have probably passed out.
The fog was a little disappointing because it blocked the long distance view but our driver/guide told us it was a blessing, it made the weather less hot and more bearable.
The wall is truly magnificent. I cannot believe it was built so many years ago in such a difficult terrain. I loved seeing my little man exploring around the Great Wall of China – it filled my heart.
Our guide Steve was such a huge help. He totally helped us in anyway possible with our kiddos, even pulling the stroller so daddy can walk with the kids and I could take pictures.
Okay so I know we are crazy for taking a stroller to the Great Wall of China – who does that??! People were looking at us like we were idiots, and I would do the same if I saw someone else do that. Well these were the reasons:
1) We were trying to protect MN from himself. From wondering off and grabbing every little piece of rock / trash off the floor to play with.
2) The stroller offered some shade and protection from the blazing sun.
3) The stroller was the only place MN will take naps outside of a car seat or a crib.
4) The stroller serves as a carrier for the diaper bag, souvenirs, snacks and water.
5) I have strong husband who does not mind carrying it down a million steep steps!
Another huge reason why we picked the Mutianyu wall section is because they have a sliding car track as an option for getting down the wall. We knew our daughter BN would be thrilled to ride it. She definitely deserve a reward for walking the whole distance and enduring the heat!
I mean, how cool is this? Where else in the world can you slide down a cart from one of the most AMAZING structures known to man, one of the seven wonders of the world?! It was such a long course, you could go super fast and it was surrounded by greenery everywhere – we LOVED IT!! Brielle kept telling me to go faster and we were both laughing hysterically. One of my fondest memories of the trip, for sure…
For our late lunch, Steven (our driver) recommended The Schoolhouse. This was an American owned restaurant that served excellent (familiar) food, located just at the foot of Mutianyu. It was a great place to chill and cool off after a hot day on the Great Wall.
I wanted to get a photo of our driver Steve too. He was such a genuinely nice guy!
We didn’t cover the Beijing Zoo during the first two days of our visit, but we visited Beijing Zoo on our last day in China, before flying home to USA.
I had promised Bri she could see the Giant Pandas. After all we could not go to China and not see a Giant Panda!
Well the exhibit was quite sad as one of the Pandas looked like it was missing an eye… Luckily the kids liked it anyway.
The zoo was beautifully landscaped and we enjoyed the scenery. The stone sculptures were lovely and the kids enjoyed playing with them…
The exhibits however, were not as attractive… I just felt sorry for the elephants and could not bring myself to take any pictures.
The Beijing Zoo was the only activity we did that was not touristic. I meant, we were the only tourists there. Everyone stared at us, probably because it was such an unlikely place to go for a foreigner? We saw true Chinese living there and had fun soaking in the local vibe.
So ended our “Two Days” sightseeing in Beijing China. We were booked on an early flight to Shanghai the next morning, for a connection to Hong Kong (a 5-hour journey). More on our time in Hong Kong coming up!