Naturally I was afraid I had packed way too much for one week in Beijing, but when I saw the luggage of my fellow students I soon realized that I had even packed less than most of the guys! My Chinese teacher killed it by asking me if that was my entire luggage and if I wanted to buy a suitcase in Beijing!
After two alright flights with a stop-over in Paris, where I saw the Eiffel Tower from above (YAY!), we landed safely in Beijing. We were stuck in traffic for a looooong time, checked into our 5* hotel (interior design slightly over the top), and then headed out in our huge air-conditioned tour bus accompanied by our travel guide Tony (such a legend).
We had lunch on round tables with big, round turning plates in the middle where all the dishes were arranged and every one simply put stuff on their personal plate in front of them. Despite being exhausting at times, I used chopsticks!
Afterwards we headed to the 2008 Olympic Park where we were told that the designers are from Switzerland and it is the same guys who designed Allianz-Arena in Munich.
Our last stop for the day was the Summer Palace. A place where you can find yourself surrounded by colourful temples, bridges, a kind of sacred passage and a huge lake with dragon boats. With the blue sky and the sun shining, I did even forget the fact that I had been awake for more than 24 hours already travelling half-way around the globe.
Keeping this in mind, we didn’t make plans for the night other than get some Chinese money and – most importantly – buy food and water. It was a challenge to keep reminding myself that I can’t drink tap water in China, since that was basically what I was doing in every other country before.
First impression: If you ignore all the Asians, the Chinese characters and the occasional temple, the Beijing I’ve seen so far looks pretty much like every other big city. I thought there would be more pollution but we even had blue sky all day!