China : at the other side of the world

I have now arrived … through inner Mongolia towards Beijing. No, I’m not really ready for a big city. The hutongs will make the switch to me somewhat smooth.

Beijing: in the middle of the hutongs

No skyscrapers, but cozy alleys. Fortunately, I chose my accommodation without knowing it. Beijing is huge, but you can almost forget it here. It may be because it is the days before China’s 70th anniversary that the streets are not so crowded. How pleasant.

Until I realize – caught up with my “I don’t plan attitude” – that downtown Beijing will be completely sealed off for the anniversary. Complete means that all hotels and hostels close, nobody comes out or in. Ah yes! No problem, then I’ll just go on … wrong thought! All of China is on its feet or wheels for the long free week – across the country. No more train or plane tickets available. I am comforted a little that the ignorance not only affects me, but almost every traveler. Not even the accommodations know exactly when to close. Ok, plan C is needed. I book a small hostel close to the Great Wall and with this I am supplied. Time for some sightseeing …

Temple of Heaven

I stroll a few blocks and reach the Temple of Heaven with its large park and various stations. I continue to stroll, a photo here and there, unfortunately I can’t read boards, everything in Chinese. And as I stroll around, I notice how much sightseeing has bored me. I am aware that this does not do justice to the Temple of Heaven and all of Beijing. But I can not change it. They are buildings, somehow dead. I have to admit to myself: I am probably not the typical traveler. For a while it was just fun. In the medium term I’m interested in life, people! And that is certainly not wrong – I attest to myself.

Modern Beijing, life

So I devote myself again to the here and now, today and life. I meet up with friends, Chinese people who live in Beijing. We met in Siberia. I test exciting, outstanding food, we cycle through “their” city and we simply spend time together. Yes! That’s it. This is me. That enriches, fascinates, inspires me. Provides food for thought, knowledge and broadens your own horizons.

Take the fishing rod, get started…

Plan C and what became of it: As mentioned at the beginning, I had to flee – leave the city, release it for the big parade and celebrations around the 70th anniversary. When I arrived at my accommodation, it turned out that for the equivalent of € 7 a night, I was not staying in a dorm, but in a brand new, chic single room with its own, even more stylish bathroom. Free family connection on top.

Means: A next first-time thing is waiting for me. It goes out for fishing in a reservoir about 1.5 hours away. That kind of peace here. Just a few other anglers – apparently you know each other. Not much is said anyway. Super pleasant hours. And then, of course, we drive to the next town to eat fish – hot pot, what else ?!

Great Great Wall

And then there was the one thing I was actually here for: the Great Wall of China. At sunrise, before the big rush. We had an impressive, great hour almost alone there. We hiked up and down the wall, with no end in sight. On the way back, we were also grateful for the morning hours on the Great Wall. I mentioned that all of China is traveling because of the holidays? And, of course, especially to one of the most important sights in the country. The buses had arrived in droves in the meantime … and we are luckily on our way back.

You can find some impressive facts about the Great Wall here.

Things I learned in China

1. To eat a whole fish with chopsticks. Dissect, remove bones, enjoy the tender meat – all with these two sticks. And it works. Not that difficult actually. At least I’m not starving. And of course I also learned how to fish. Nothing comes from nothing.

2. {Khhhhrrrr tfuuuu} is really an ordinary Chinese sound. Means: You really do it. Pull up the mucus vigorously and remove it. Constantly and everywhere. Also in the kitchen after I just ordered something to eat. I cannot say that you will get used to it at some point. At least not so quickly.

3. You don’t get very far with English here. Although it is the capital. Even menus are often only in Chinese and without pictures. This makes the selection a little more adventurous. After all, you can’t be sure, there is a lot on the table in China. So I don’t really know what I’ve eaten. But it mostly tasted good.

4. Nothing works without WeChat. Somehow impressive, how every age group is traveling digitally as a matter of course. Communication, evening planning, translation, payment – all about WeChat. If you are not in there, you are not in there.

5. Hot pot as far as the eye can see. And in all variations. Ooookay, dumplings are also very high up. Main thing: it has to be with meat. A few vegetarian things can also be found. Few.

6. Touch my freedom and I turn red. You know it, China has its own systems, the Internet is not free and and and. I never thought it would hit me so hard. And I realize that I find it difficult to endure, to keep still.

7. Public toilets on every corner – practically… until we realize that they are not primarily for the tourists, they are needed by the residents. There is no bathroom in the hutongs.

8. Smog – visibly abundant. I didn’t notice it the first few days. Then it became clear on the Great Wall, when the fog was still not gone until noon. The flight from Beijing to Seoul then showed the whole truth, bluntly. Just 3 minutes after the start, you break this veil floating over the city like a lid. Not just over the city. I only saw the bottom again when the sea was already below us.

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