Friday, November 26, 2010

Planning China

I'm planning my first trip to Beijing. I don't know how long I've been talking about seeing and hiking The Great Wall of China but the opportunity has presented itself. I made a list of some of the "adventures" I have yet to do in a previous entry. Hiking the Great Wall was one of them. You can take para-sailing off the list because I took care of that in August.  The butterflies are already building. I am super excited!

Husband and I are thinking that we're going to spend two days there. Day one will be spent at Yaxiu Market. Thanks to my cousin, Jared, who went to Beijing earlier this month I know where the best shopping can be found. He told me to start in the basement of Yaxiu Market and buy some suitcases then work my way up and fill the suitcases. The Market boasts on-site tailor's to whip up an outfit and floors of bargains. Husband and I have set a budget of $300 to spend there. According to cousin, $150 went very, very far so we'll see what we can get for double that. This is our Christmas Shopping! I'm totally excited to be able to combine my Christmas Shopping with travel. **Smiles**

Day two will be total sight-seeing. We will hit The Great Wall in the early morning (even if the temps are super freezing, as it is now) then maybe The Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, and Tian'anmen Square in the afternoon. I'm presuming that everything will be very quick since these attractions are all outdoor and it's FREEZING. I know how I get in the cold. CRANKY!!! I'm thinking I should go hunt down a pair of ugg boots to keep my toes warm. I got rid of all my winter gear when I left the mainland. Part of the reason for Day One being shopping is so that I can at least get a warm coat for the outdoor sightseeing. I'm not banking on them having boots in my size. Not in China! I think they would faint if they seen my feet. China is the nation that once practiced footbinding. Would these people even believe that I'm Chinese with my very large body frame and feet?!!! hahahahaha

Sidenote: In Alabama, my favorite Chinese restaurant is Tai, in the city of Madison. Tai is the surname of my great-grandfather on my father's side. He was pure Chinese and married my great-grandmother who was pure Hawaiian. The owner spoke to me after our meal and was impressed with the way I order my food, my selection of food, and how I eat with chopsticks. He said it is "very Chinese". I think about that interaction often. I requested that my rice be served in a rice bowl, separate. I asked for a steamed vegetable since it wasn't on the menu. The waiter asked the cook what could be done and they informed him that they would kindly oblige. When the meal was served. I had my bowl of rice, a generous helping of steamed/ stir-fry pak choi, and ginger chicken. On the mainland, it is assumed that everyone eats with a fork. The waiter almost fell over when I requested chopsticks. The owner -- dazzled by my chopstick skills. I tell this story only to illustrate what might have inadvertently been passed down through the generations. Maybe my "very Chinese" way of eating is genetic. **laughing**

December seems like the best time to travel because it is the off season in China. It will be bitter cold (hate it) but I know I'm coming home to the beautiful tropics so I think I can bear it for a couple of days. I'm thinking that we'll stay at the Marriott there. It's near downtown Beijing and the subway. I'm so excited.

I'm trying to avoid having to hire a private car and tour guide. My cousin said he hired one and it ran about $215. That seems like a small price for excellent services but husband and I are not "balling" like that yet so we're on a tight budget. Our day trip to San Francisco last week went just fine using public transportation. I'm assuming it will be fine in Beijing as well. The olympics was just there so I know they had to make everything user-friendly for speakers of all languages. I find comfort in that.

If you have travelled to Beijing, what are some tips I should keep in mind?

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Ui said...

woot woot!!! when you guys goin?!

The Songer said...

Sorry No tips... Never been there.. Only dreamed of going there! But this was a great post! Both hilarious and informative! LOL! You go with your Chopsticks skills! haha! (Cause mine are very mediocre)

I hope you have an awesome trip.. I am truly jealous of your ability to jump on a plane so easily! But am so glad that you are taking advantage of your flying benefits! Right before I quit the airlines, Continental got routes into China and was so sad that I never got there! Have fun!