Beijing, China

April 14
We woke up early to get to the train station in Shanghai. We took a 5-hour bullet train to Beijing and then took the subway to our hostel near the Forbidden City. The hostel was the best yet in China and finally felt like a hostel that we are used to. We ate lunch and took the subway to the Silk Market, the best place in the world to buy quality knock offs at great prices. This place is six stories and has everything from clothing to electronics. We bargained pretty hard and Matt got some great deals on Nike shoes and running clothing. I got some Beats and we both got some North Face Jackets. It was a solid day at the Silk Market. We took the subway back to our hostel to drop off our stuff and then took the subway to the Olympic stadium. It was all lit up with colorful lights and was great to see. The subway station looked almost abandoned because business in the stores down there probably dropped drastically right after the games and there was no point in staying open afterwards. We saw the Bird’s Nest, Swimming Cube, and all of the surrounding structures in the area. It was very neat and still in decent condition. We then took the subway to an outdoor bar area that was known as the traditional area to go out. It was a pretty cool area with traditional buildings and some caf├ęs. We drank some beers at a tapas place and then called it a night. The subway closed early so we had to dish out for a taxi. I have no idea why the subway closes at 10:00 pm in one of the world’s major cities, but it does. We chilled in out hostel for a little with the kids in our room and then went to bed.

April 15
We woke up and walked to Tienamen Square, which is actually a lot of nothing. It may be the largest in the world but there are no places to sit and nothing there but space because the government doesn’t want people to hang out there long, probably because of its past with democracy protests not so many years ago. Many Chinese are sheltered from the truth that their government killed many protestors and they aren’t allowed to talk about it. We then walked across the street to the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City was cool to me because last time I was here, I didn’t get to go in. It closed right when I arrived so I’m happy I get to this time. It was basically a really big palace that was long but not too wide and had a few small squares leading up to stairs and rooms. It seemed like a boring place to live but was nice to visit. We then walked out of the north entrance and crossed the street to go to a park on a hill. Apparently the hill is there because when they dug out the most for the Forbidden City, they piled the dirt here. Now it is a park and you get great views of the city. Pollution makes it pretty foggy but it’s still cool to see the Forbidden City from above. We then took the subway to the western bar street. There was a nice new outdoor mall and across the street was a line of small bars and hookah bars to chill. It was still pretty early so we just walked around. We planned to come back tomorrow night. We went back to our hostel and chilled for the night. We planed things for the rest of our trip and hung out in the hostel restaurant. We went to bed fairly early because tomorrow we were waking up early to go to the Great Wall.

April 16
We woke up early and a van took us to the second most touristy part of the Great Wall. This section is supposed to look amazing and was restored so you can walk it. After a two hour drive, we arrived and it wasn’t crowded at all yet. We were some of the only people there, which was cool. We took a chairlift to the top and Matt and I walked the wall pretty far. It was mostly stairs and was very tiring. We saw a few different parts before we turned around. We then walked passed where we started to the ruins section. It showed how much they actually restored the wall because it was almost completely deteriorated. We walked around that section for a little while avoiding the abundance of plants that’s growing on top through the rocks. We then took a fun luge down the mountain to where we started and we walked to lunch. We sat next to this crazy older American lady who spent the last 40 years moving to places in the world who just had conflicts and were recovering. And she did this for apparently no reason. She was one of the first people who moved to Vietnam after the war, just because. She was so interesting and fun to talk to though. We took the bus back to the city and slept most of the way. We chilled in the hostel for a little bit and then went to the Bar Street again tonight. We got some beers and walked around before heading home because the subway closes too early.

April 17
Today, is our last day here. We did everything that we wanted to do, for the most part, except see the Summer Palace. We took the subway for an hour and arrived. It was really nice and glad we went. There were some buildings on a hill and a huge lake with lake house mansion. We wandered around there for a couple of hours and then went back to our hostel to finalize our travel plans for tonight. We had a 9:00 pm flight to Kathmandu, Nepal that connects through Seoul, South Korea. Apparently, Seoul is rated the best airport to have a layover in the world because they offer free city tours, free showers, free massage chairs, free computers, and so on. We took the subway to the airport and got on our flight. The Seoul airport really was great. We didn’t sleep all night before our connector because we enjoyed the amenities so much. It was a relief to be out of the chaos of China, and back in civilization. But that only lasted a couple of hours until we boarded our flight to Kathmandu.