China: Beijing Day 2 (Pt. 3) + Day 3

Qianmen and The Ming Tombs.

After exiting The Forbidden City, we took a gypsy cab (cause we’re stupid tourists and were too tired to find a real cab) to the Qianmen / Dazhalan area. Cute stickers on the gypsy cab though!

We did not try this restaurant so I couldn’t tell you what makes Californa beef so special that it goes into the title of a restaurant.

Dazhalanxi Jie is kind of a touristy shopping are but the building were really pretty and there was a specific fabric store we were looking for.

We were looking for Ruifuxiang Silk Store. It was a really cool shop but way over-priced because of the tourist location. The brocades were still cheaper than we get in the U.S. but a couple days later,took us to the fabric district and we realized how much they were overcharging here. We all bought a couple pieces but luckily we did not go overboard until we went to the fabric district.

The shops also do tailoring so we spent an hour picking out something for Aimee. I was translating for her to the shop keeper while she was making her choices, and at one point he told me that my English was really good. LOL!

Judy was all, “Yeaaaah, she’s been working on that English for 30 some years.” =DDD

Marcus was such a sweetheart and played sherpa for us so we could shop with our hands free.

By the time we got done shopping, it was around 9pm and we were starving! Marcus said afterward his only thought was: uhoh FIND FOOD FAST! (We were getting a bit cranky from lack of food.) ^^;

We found this recommended Peking duck place called Quanjude. Obviously no duck for me, but everyone else said the duck was awesome!

Another very pretty Starbucks across the way from the restaurant.

The Qianmen shopping area at night.

Qianmen literally means Front Gate. This used to be one of the gates on the wall surrounding Beijing. Obviously the wall is gone now but a couple of the gates are still standing.

Beijing Olympic mascots are still around.

And one can always call the cops if you are in trouble! I think… Marcus and I had a hell of a time reading in Beijing. Our Chinese reading comprehension is shaky as it is, and it’s even worse in Beijing where they use simplified which neither of us have learned.

Beijing Day 3

Before heading out to the Forbidden City, we had booked tours to go to The Great Wall. Getting to the Great Wall requires you to either join a tour or hire a driver. We opted for a tour as it seemed easier. There are a couple sections of The Great Wall that are open to visit and after hearing about’s experience at Badaling (way too touristy and crowded), I did some research and picked Mutianyu – a section much farther away from Beijing.

But first we had to get there! Our tour bus picked us up outside our hotel. Since our hotel was in a hutong area, there was no way a bus could fit down the street so we had to walk out to the main street. Here’s a shot looking down the street to our hotel so you can see how narrow it is.

And onto the bus!

Some of the fun sights driving around Beijing. =D

So that’s the 12 zodiac symbols above that shop. No clue why there is a santa claus there… in April.

Freaky. >.<

Giant Yao Ming is also freaky!

Our first stop on the tour was the Ming tombs. As the name suggests, the Ming dynasty buried a lot of their emperors here.

The Spirit Way, a beautiful walk leading up to the tombs with statues guarding the way.


We did not actually see the tombs as the area was too big for us to see it all and still make the Great Wall.

This tablet was added by an emperor of the Qing dynasty. I believe it was part of the “adopt the local people’s ways to make them accept foreign rule easier” propaganda. =D

The dragon turtle supporting the tablet.

So there is supposed to be some good luck reason to touch the turtles tail and head. I totally forget now… longevity and good fortune or something?

So one of the lovely parts of taking a tour in China is that they funnel you through these enforced shopping trips. Obviously the tour gets a commission if they can get you to buy something.

The first stop was an Chinese traditional medicine shop.

They diagnose your problems for you and recommend medicine. They didn’t make you go up and get diagnosed, but we figured we might as well since we were there. We didn’t buy any medicine though.

To be fair, they really didn’t get pushy on us about not buying anything and just left us alone. This is what we thought of the stop though. =D

The next stop was a jade factory which was way cooler.

I don’t even remember seeing this but Judy took the photo: ancient jade burial suit.

And the tour got a commission cause Aimee and Judy both purchased jade bangles! I was totally envious of their bracelets so a couple days later, I convinced Marcus to let me buy one at another shop we stopped at. LOL

Next up: The Great Wall!