A city of Yesterdays and Tomorrows—Written by Gapyearcloealex

It was 4 am, on the 2nd of september when we arrived in Beijing, the first city of our 42 days trip around China.

For the first two days we would wake up at 4am and hit the many parks of the city and watch the chinese people dance ( and joined them > amazing!), do tai-chi, stretch or play cards).

We visited Beijing on our bikes, it was amazing to ride among the locals and ride really fast on those huge road along the forddiden city at night.
We would get lost which enabled us to discover new places, we had no fixed plans so we would just go ” ou le vent nous mene”. (i.e Where the wind takes us”)

In Beijing, you can really sense that you are in another world from the west, politically and culturaly, chinese flags are everywhere, Mao’s enormous face stands at the centre of the city, policeman are on tianenmen square, not a lot of people speaks english, the food is different and the remaining”hutongs” and beautiful temples contrats with the brand-new skyscrapers.

At 10 pm on the 3rd day, we packed and took a 2 hour bus to a small village called “Gubeikou” near the Great Wall ( Jinshanling, a less touristy area of the wall because it hasn’t been renovated yet) and stayed in a hostel.

At sunset we climbed one of the 3 “roads” to the wall and got lost on it for one hour.
When we finally reached the wall, the view was just breathtaking, there stood mountains and mountains on the horizon, the sky was turnning orange and pink, the sun was slowly coming down and you could see the wall stretching for miles, it was one of the most beautiful moment we ever experienced!
We walked on the wall for a while wandering, then we met a group of 4 canadians and french guys who were going to sleep on the wall! (and later also a couple) (yes apparentely it is possible!), unfortunately we couldn’t joined them cause ther was an american girl with us and didn’t know the way down.

After having promised ourselves to come back and sleep up there one day, we took our sleeping bags and slept outside our dorm, on the terrace of the hostel to look at the stars (also because we had no watch, no phone, no computer to wake us up at 4.30 am, (in order to go back and see the sunrise).
And as it turns out, the light in the earliest hours of the day is a effective and natural alarm clock

The sunrise was magical also!
We took another road from the previous night and walked the part we hadn’t walked on, we crossed roads with the 4 guys again (cold night up there for them) we had breakfast on the top, and we screamed with all our souls at the mountains (we had always wanted to do that!),
it was just amazing.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay a day longer, we had a night train to Shangai at 8 :)

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Getting to the Great Wall by train from Beijing—-Written by Fluffydragon

There isn’t much information regarding taking the train from Beijing to the Great Wall (by Gubeikou village 古北口), but I am here to report it can definitely be done and done cheaply. If you would like more information about the sections of the wall near Gubeikou, there is a fair amount of information here on the Great Wall Forum.

As for getting the train, you’ll want to ask for a ticket to Luishuigou 流水沟 on the train 4471 (the incredibly slow train between Beijing and Chengde). The ticket sellers most likely will have no idea what you are asking for so be sure to tell them the train number and also consider writing down the stop in Chinese, even if you speak Chinese well. The ticket costs 12 rmb, leaves from Beijing North (Xizhimen on subway lines 2, 4 and 13). The train is indeed very slow, taking about 5 hours to go the 145 km to get to Gubeikou. On the plus side, there are very few passengers and the scenery is nice. Though buying a ticket directly to Gubeikou currently isn’t possible, the train will stop there. It is the station right before Luishuigou. Make sure to let the train workers know where you want to get off and they will alert you when the train arrives. Our hostel, Great Wall Box, arranged a driver to pick us up from the station. It was 20 rmb for the van and worth it as I didn’t see much around the station. You might have to look around a bit and negotiate for a driver if you don’t arrange pick-up.

As for places to stay, the Great Wall Box is one option. Their prices are high (150 rmb for a dorm bed 1500 for a private room), but the setting and hostel are beautiful. They can be booked on hostelworld. There is also a very cheap Chinese guesthouse I found in the village that is friendly and has good food. The price is about 120 rmb for a room with a bathroom, though other options are available. The don’t speak English. The phone number is 010-81051469 and mobile is 15910427153. The address in Chinese is: 古北口隧洞前下车售票处往前10米。

You can access part of the Great Wall for free from Gubeikou, though at some parts you’ll have to pay admission (25 rmb).

Getting back to Beijing can be done by taking the bus to Miyun and then switching for another bus to Dongzhimen. Otherwise getting back by the slow train is possible. It leaves just after noon and arrives at Beijing North at 4:30 pm. If you want to head north to Chengde take the 4471 train leaving at just after 2pm which will arrive in Chengde at about 7 o’clock in the evening.

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Homemade Wine

I know there will be a nice dinner seeing Pang busy in the kitchen. After a moment, the dinner is ready, which looks really really good, tastes even better. When can I make such a nice dinner! Pang brought his homemade wine today, which is super- delicious. It’s so nice that even I who is not fond of drinking had several cups of it. I really enjoy this day. Then we have other wines. Somebody who got drunk is talking on and on and on.

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