I must say, things can change very very quickly. Yesterday morning I was skeptical about this trip, but it was quite better than expected. The group I happen to be with is quite small. Most are from Vancouver and a few surprises lay in store. 4 of the other 6 members of the group can speak English (unexpected, 2 of whom can speak Indonesian as well), 1 can speak Shanghainese as well as Mandarin, and the other speaks Mandarin only. Pretty cool.
I can’t help but notice how crowded tourist destinations are. For me, that makes the site so much less interesting. Seeing multitudes of people posing in front of monuments or objects taking photos in a way that says “Awesome, I was here” is a bit disheartening. It’s something I’ve accepted as inevitable when things become more and more popular, but seeing it in person is a different experience altogether. I’ve never liked crowds (and often I feel like it gets way too crowded in Vancouver during rush hour) and the crowds here are rather…annoying.
I think, if I didn’t have so much luggage to worry about (bringing some things for relatives) I would probably have been able to enjoy this trip a bit more. I find myself constantly worrying about my luggage while it’s in the hotel room. Something I want to follow: pack light, travel light for the more baggage you carry, the more it slows you down.
Being on my own in China is starting to seem more and more do-able. I’m not as sad as I was before nor am I as lonely as I was before. I can’t wait to get out of Beijing and finish this tour trip in HanZhou. Then, I can go to Shanghai and see if I can deal with the heat for a month and a half. I thought it was hot in Beijing yesterday, but I learned it was only about 20 degrees celsius or so. Today it’s going to hit a cool 30 (oh boy). On the plus of this trip, I’ve been able to sleep very very well. I am able to wake up at 5am no problem on my own. No alarm clocks, no wake up calls, and no sleeping in. Seeing the sun rise slowly from my window is unexpectedly pleasant (due to my impression that Beijing is covered in smog). I love it.
I walked a portion of the Great Wall and boy was that a workout. I’m glad I’m not sore today, but climbing up was hard. Coming down, was a bit more difficult. The steps are not all the same sizes (it was built that way so that enemies would have a hard time scaling it). The tour guide we have is extremely nice and talkative. The things he talks about are quite interesting, much of which had a health factor to it. Beijing is a lot more green than I thought it would be and I mean that in a color sense and not the environmental sense. Also visited the Bird’s Nest for the 2008 Olympic games and it looks a lot cooler on tv. Now for some photos: