Our second day in Beijing was one of my favorite days of the whole trip. We didn’t have to get quite as early a start so we were able to sleep in an extra hour before having a leisurely breakfast at the hotel. Though the buffet options remained the same, there was so much variety that we got to try other items we didn’t get on the first day.
After breakfast we took a short drive to see the Olympic village, where the 2008 Beijing Olympics were held. I really enjoyed this particular Olympics and it was great to see the iconic Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube, both of which were pretty huge.
After we walked around the Olympic village for a bit, we had some time to kill before lunch so they took us to a “Jade Museum”. Translation: shop selling really expensive jade wares that gives the tour company a cut on the sales. There was one guy behind a glass working on a piece of jade (carving, polishing), and that was the extent of the “museum” aspect. There were some pretty spectacular pieces on display though, with the giant cabbage being our favorite.
After window shopping.. err.. browsing? viewing? the pieces (all of which are for sale), we got on the road and headed for the highlight of our trip, the Great Wall of China. On the way we stopped at the Friendship Shop to have lunch. It was basically a huge souvenir shop and a tourist restaurant combined as one.
The food wasn’t spectacular but we definitely needed to fuel up in anticipation of our next stop, the Great Wall of China. This was by far the highlight of our trip, and is really something pretty spectacular. We drove for an hour into the mountains, and our first glimpse of the wall just made my heart race. There are several different “sections” that you can visit, and we went to one of the more popular ones, at Badaling.
We spent several hours walking on the wall, and some sections are pretty steep. Unfortunately it was pretty cloudy and hazy on the day we were there, so we didn’t have much visibility in the distance. Luckily the weather held up until after we got off the wall, as it started pouring rain as we were waiting to get back on the bus. Out of all the sightseeing destinations in China, the Great Wall is my favorite.
We were pretty exhausted from climbing up and down all the stairs on the wall, so most of us slept on the drive back into the city. Our next destination, however, perked us up right away. We arrived a restaurant for our peking duck banquet, something that we had been looking forward to. I don’t know the name of the restaurant though, because I’m illiterate. We took a picture of the sign in front, if someone can read Chinese and let me know what it says, I’d really appreciate it!
The duck turned out to be decent, but not wonderful. The skin was crispy on the outside but there was still a big fatty layer underneath that I found off-putting, and it was greasier than I prefer. They slice the duck right in front of you, which was impressive, but I didn’t like the thin slivers they gave us, as I like a meaty bite when I eat peking duck. Still, I thought this was one of the better meals we had on the trip.
And now for the highlight of the meal: the peking duck!
As I said, the duck wasn’t the best that we’ve had but it was pretty good. They did give us a lot of duck, though we ran out of crepes in the end so we just ended up eating it plain. We were pretty exhausted after climbing the Great Wall so we got back to the hotel after dinner and promptly fell asleep. It was a pretty good day overall, jade “museum” aside.