Ascensions worldwide and in Kazakhstan, accompanied by the skilled mountain guide, and subsequent tourist programs. For skilled and beginners. Individual approach to each client, constantly expanded geography of ascensions, plus reasonable prices.
The mountain guide from Kazakhstan, Andrey Gundarev
The Whole Beijing in one Day.
You have never been to the Great Wall of China? You have never been to China! This statement enhanced our motivation to get acquainted with the Celestial Empire’s capital as close as possible. At the same time, we had only one day for this.
My next expedition to Tibet started in Beijing. The Aeroflot flight from Moscow was rather tolerable, it took only 7 hours and there were not many people on board. You can fly from Almaty with Air Astana or Hainan Airlines. During the flight I met a Russian language teacher working in Beijing. She gave us the first Chinese language lesson: «Gunian, wo ai ni!» which means «I love you, girl!».
We arrived in the capital late at night and in only 15 minutes after touching the ground, we were already getting into a car. We drove along a night toll road (there are 4000 toll roads in the world, 70% of which are located in China) to the hotel together with our Chinese guide with a Russian name: Boris. The center of the city is 28 km away from the international airport and the traffic is light in the night time. But in the day time there usually are traffic jams: there are 19 million people living in Beijing plus 5 million cars and innumerable bicycles and motorcycles. In order to reduce the traffic load, people are only allowed to buy a car if they have lived and worked for more than 5 years in the city. The same applies to real estate. The prices of apartments have already reached those in Moscow, while the average salary in this region is 300 dollars.
We stayed in a 4 star hotel called Howard Johnson, located next to the Central Railroad Station where the Moscow-Beijing express, known since Soviet times, still arrives. After a Chinese style breakfast, we were provided with a car driven by a woman in white gloves.
Due to lack of time, we had to hurry everywhere for the whole day. Inspite of that, we managed to visit almost all the famous sights, although, under normal circumstances, it would take at least two-three days to see the city more carefully.
The first site was the Tiananmen Square (the biggest in the world!) located in the center of Beijing. It was named after the Tiananmen Gate (translated literally as the Gate of Heavenly Peace) located north of the square, which separates the square from the Forbidden City. We had heard a lot about the 8-meter high monument to Confucius which had been put up at the square in January this year, but we did not see it: it turned out that the statue had been dismantled during the night on April 22 due to unknown reasons. In order to enter the square you need to pass through a frame metal detector. Having passed the mausoleum (I even don’t know if entry is allowed there) we got to the Emperor’s Palace — the Forbidden City. This is the largest palace complex in the world (961x753 m, 720 thousand m2). This was the main palace complex of the Chinese emperors in the period from the XV century to the early XX century. It is said to have 9999 rooms. There were lots of people inside. The complex is impressive only for its size; of course in the days of the emperor it used to be much quieter there. The emperor’s garden is very pleasant with its two hundred year old thuja trees and stone garden. It must be very nice there in the evening, but the complex is closed by that time. The entrance ticket costs 60 yuans.
After the Forbidden City, we went to the State Tea House for a tea ceremony. Its employees speak different languages, including Russian. We drank six kinds of tea: Puer (10 years old), ginseng, jasmine, milk, Black Dragon and Litchi. The first cup must be drunk in three gulps accompanied with wishes of happiness, wealthy and longevity. You can buy tea there (which is exactly what it all is arranged for), but the prices are rather high — a 150 g pack costs about 200 yuans. However, specialists say that this tea is worth such price.
The next point was the silk factory, where we got familiarized with the process of manufacturing silk blankets. Blankets, clothes, carpets and other silk products are very good but really expensive. A carpet, as well as a dressing gown, may cost up to 30.000 yuans.
The next point was the Temple of Heaven and surrounding park (admission charge — 35 yuans). That temple and palace complex has the only round shaped temple in Beijing. the Temple of Harvest (this is the complex’s main temple, which is often called as the Temple of Heaven). It was built not far from the Emperor’s Palace at the same time as the Forbidden City. It is interesting to note that it was constructed in strict compliance with the rules of feng shui. For almost 500 years emperors came there once in a year on the day of winter solstice in order to bring generous gifts to heaven after a strict three-day fast. The emperor of the Celestial Empire was believed to be of divine origin and he was the only one who had the right to refer to heaven with prayers and ask for prosperity for the country. The emperor preformed invocations in order to make wind, rain, heat and cold come at the due time in accordance with the everlasting natural cycle — this was the guarantee of a rich harvest.
In the park surrounding the temple people play kick-sock, perform mass qigong exercises, Uigurs dance their national dances, children paint in watercolors — just idyllic.
After quite an active walk in parks, temples and factories, the time had come to have dinner. Noodles, Korean cabbage Kimchi, roasted mutton and local beer — all this will cost you up to 80 yuans in the city center.
After dinner we had time for shopping, so we had an opportunity to compare the prices and quality of goods sold in Almaty with those sold in Beijing. I didn’t notice much of a difference.
Later, we went 60 km northward to the fortress complex Ju Yong Guang at the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall is the largest architectural monument stretching for almost 9000 km (including its branches) in Northern China, and the Badaling section is close to Beijing. Contrary to the current opinion, the Wall can not be seen from a space station with the naked eye, although it is seen on satellite photographs. For two hours we walked along a rather long circuit with rapid ascents and steep descents. At the Wall we met a group of our «fellow countrymen» — tourists from Kyrgyzstan who came to China to acquire experience in the sphere of railroad construction. It turned out that Kyrgyz were interested in the construction of a new railroad to the Celestial Empire through Naryn. However, it will be constructed by the Chinese in exchange for exploration of some deposit.
In order to finish up our day in Beijing we ordered the most famous Beijing dish for dinner — Peking Duck. Even if you stay for only one day in the city, having Peking Duck is a must, just as visiting the Forbidden City and the Great Wall.
There is a chain of branded restaurants where this dish is cooked in a professional manner. A duck rubbed with honey is roasted in a special oven, and then the meat is sliced and served. The flesh, as well as the skin, which must be crispy, thin and not fatty, is served together with tangerine flat cakes, green onion and sauces: sweet sauce from burdock or Haixian sauce. Other ingredients such as cucumbers sticks can also be added. A complex in a branded restaurant (a duck plus 5 salads and appetizers) costs 250 yuans per person. It is incredibly delicious!
In the evening we decided to go for a walk around our hotel. Beijing is a huge and well-attended city, at least in the city-center. Among its sights there was a toilet located in the highest building of the city — 330 m high — the international business center Guomao. At the exit we were invited to visit another tourist site — a massage parlour, which was, in fact, a brothel. We refused since there was no such a point in our program. The more so, the intensity of the only day in the capital of the Celestial Empire had just manifested itself — I had never slept as deeply as I did after all that diversity.
The Chinese authorities will always try to accomodate foreigners in expensive hotels. You can save your money by booking hotels on the Internet or directly in Beijing — at the railroad station you can find helpers who will lead you to a cheap (15-25 dollars) but comfortable hotel for «friends» for a small percentage compensation.
Tourist agencies specialized in domestic tourism in China are a powerful support. That is why it is better to let them organize your excursions: all the key sites (together with free meal) will be two times cheaper for organized tourists. However, on the way you’ll visit at least one factory producing silk, jade or some other products — the cost of the excursions is covered partially by the owners of such enterprises.
If you have a couple of days, you can lease a bicycle at the hotel. It will cost you not much and you’ll be able to avoid traffic jams. Traveling in Beijing by taxi is rather problematic because drivers do not speak other languages as a rule.
Astana + 2 hours
Moscow + 4 hours
London + 7 hours
Istanbul + 5 hours
10 CNY = 45 RUR = $1.55 = 225 KZT
The weather in Beijing is rather specific — each time of year has its own peculiarities. The climate is moderate continental. The Winter is long and cold as a rule; summer is sometimes rainy, but always hot.
The best times to visit are summer and autumn.
Flight: Almaty — Beijing — from &730 (offer by Hainan Airlines subject to early booking).