While you’re in China a trip to it’s capital, Beijing, is a definite must. Especially if you are living in Shanghai, Beijing will give you an absolute different feeling. As a member of the TEAN program, you have the option to attend an included excursion with your group. For a first time visit, I would strongly recommend going with TEAN.
My all time favorite event in Beijing was hiking the Great Wall with our tour guide Toni and the group. Rising with sun we left our hotel at 6am to watch the day start atop the wall. We hiked the wall in the Jinshanling mountain area about 80 miles northeast from Beijing. Thanks to the off-season time and the colder weather, our group was alone on the wall for most of our three-hour hike. The Great Wall is one of the most breathtaking sights in the world in my opinion and walking it had an almost glorious feeling. It is also not as easy to walk that part of the wall since it is not as well kept and you do have to watch where you step. However, with some caution and good shoes, we had a blast as a group and the view was amazing.
While in Beijing, we also visited multiple popular sites like the New Summer Palace, the Beijing 798 Art Zone, the historically known Hutong area, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. My favorite of all those was definitely the Forbidden City. Situated in the center of Beijing, the area was build during the Ming dynasty around 1420. The city consists of over 980 buildings covering overs 180 acres. The Forbidden City was, until the fall of the last dynasty in 1912, the residence of the Chinese emperor and his family. With its thick walls, enormous mote around it and the beautifully painted buildings, the Forbidden City is a sight to behold. We spend about three hours inside the city and were only able to walk straight from the south gate all the way through the north end, which was already impressive. The next time I return to Beijing, I will definitely spend more time inside the Forbidden City to explore as much as I can.
Lastly, we also explored a lot of food options in Beijing, including onion-pork dumplings, liver soup, little scorpions and sugar covered hawthorn berries. The best however was the Peking Duck dinner with the TEAN group. The duck, braised in sauces according to the Beijing recipe, is a must have in the capital. It is traditionally enjoyed by slicing the meat up and then rolling it into a thin, almost tortilla like pancake, along with onion and cucumber slices. It sounds a bit strange, but that wrapped up duck is extremely delicious and we all ate until we were stuffed.
I immensely enjoyed the TEAN excursion to Beijing since it brought us as a group even close together. We got to see some amazing sights and thanks to our awesome guide Toni learned a lot about the history of the city and the sights we saw.
Katharina Gruenewald is a student at the Iowa State University and a TEAN Featured Blogger. She studied abroad with TEAN in Shanghai, China.