There are 2 main highlights on this day: the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China. It was awesome standing at the Tiananmen Square. The space!!!! The people!!! There are constantly many many groups of local Chinese tours. However, China has improved vastly from the past where tour guides would be carrying their loudspeakers and competing among the groups to be the loudest. Apparently, the government has banned loudspeakers, replacing them with microphones for the tour guides and earphones for their designated group. Hence, based on the designated specific frequency, each tourist is able to listen to the tour guide as if he is right beside you without the necessity of a shouting competition.
But my Chinese tour guide was very good. He practically memorized the English script of the sightseeing tour, so he was able to give us a basic description of the place. If I ever return to China, I think I would prefer to tour on my own at a leisure pace.
The Great Wall of China was really an enjoyable moment. It was there that my tour mates were patient to see me climbing really, really slowly. I was glad the tour agency brought us to Mutianya section instead of Badaling section. Mutianya is a much quieter section and I am free to climb on all fours. The view was excellent and I even experienced my first toboggan down the Great Wall of China! If you don’t know what toboggan is, I didn’t know what is that at all as well! It was really hilarious as I was displaying my super lousy skills at maneuvering the stick that control the speed of the toboggan sliding down the slide. I had many firsts in this trip: meeting new people from across the world for the first time, climbing the Great Wall, trying toboggan. It was really fun subsequently to have dessert and lunch with my tour mates on the way back,while exchanging our experiences in China so far.
As a solo traveler for certain trips, I began to realize such local land tours, preferably a public tour, is the best for me. I get to meet strangers in a secured settings and able to enjoy my own privacy when I am back in the hotel. It was during this trip that I decided to incorporate more local public tours in the future for my holidays.
The next day, we headed for Jingshan Park. With an entrance fee of RMB2, elderly often go to this park for morning activities, like dancing or calligraphy. We caught a panoramic view of the Forbidden City and proceeded to Beijing Olympic Park (the most boring itinerary IMHO). Please skip this if you are visiting Beijing, especially during the hot summer days. You are just going to bake yourself under the sun, feeling hot and bored.