PhotoBackpackers

Beijing, China

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China. 5 thousand years of history. One of the biggest countries in the world. The most populous one. Huge economic power. The place that is so different from everything else that, if it doesn’t happen there, it doesn’t happen anywhere. Beijing, the capital of all this craziness.

Before going any further, it’s important to highlight that Beijing is situated at the north of the gigantic Chinese territory. That means that during this time of the year, winter at the north hemisphere, the city is incredible cold. We even got to see some snow over there. But that’s ok, because we love snow! We just weren’t expecting to face it in Beijing. The locals told us that we were lucky to see the city all white. And they were right!

 

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To make our experience even better, we got there during the Chinese New Year festivities. A time where the streets are decorated, everyone is celebrating and people are outside enjoying the city parks! Awesome!

 

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The local people are very friendly, and curious about the foreigners. Among the 1,3 billion Chinese people, we are a very exotic sight! It was very common to see someone pointing and smiling at us. The problem is they only speak Mandarin, hehe. We got to say some “ni hao”s on the street, but since we know nothing further that “hi”, it was impossible to engage in a real conversation. Lucky for us that in our hostel we met some Chinese polyglots, that spoke English and even Spanish! Then we could talk a little bit more.

 

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"Olha, tio! Olha a medalha que eu ganhei!"

“Hey, you! Check out this medal I just won!”

We found out many truths and lies about China.
Does the government censure the access to many websites? True! A 20-year-old Chinese asked us about the protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989, since he had never seen anything, just heard the rumors. For those who don’t remember, it was on that event that this picture was taken, one of the most famous images in history. He didn’t even know the picture.

 

Jeff Widener/AP

Jeff Widener/AP

Do the Chinese eat dogs, snakes and scorpions for breakfast? Not true! This kind of food is sold at some restaurants and fairs, but they are exotic even to them. Either way, it’s still a bit odd to check out a Chinese menu, because they eat some parts of the animals that seem a little gross to us: duck head, chicken feet, pig kidney, and so on.
We didn’t eat anything too odd, by the way. The weirdest thing was a kind of wine that was kept in a gallon full of snakes (which is great for your health, according to them). And it was quite good, can you believe it?

 

A tentação foi grande, mas ainda não foi dessa vez que experimentamos. :)

Temptation was big, but it wasn’t this time that we tried it. :)

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Now, the most common thing in Beijing is history. Actually, the most common thing is people, but after that, it’s history. The city was the capital of China from 1421 to 1911, during the Ming and Qing dynasties, and it was capital again in 1949, with the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. That’s why so many building that are important to the Empire and the Republic are located there. And we went to visit them, of course.

 

A lendária Cidade Proibida não é uma cidade, nem é mais proibida. É um grande palácio, onde viveram os imperadores chineses por quase 500 anos. Durante esse período a entrada de pessoas era bastante restrita. Mas hoje, transformada em museu, a Cidade Proibida é um dos pontos mais visitados de Pequim.

The legendary Forbidden City is not an actual city, nor forbidden.
It’s a great palace, where Chinese emperors lived in for almost 500 years.
During this period, the entrance was very restricted. But today, now a museum, the Forbidden City is one of Beijing’s most visited spots.

O Templo do Céu, construído há quase 600 anos, é um dos principais símbolos de Pequim - e provavelmente o templo mais bonito que conhecemos.

The Temple of Heaven, built almost 600 years ago, is one of the main symbols of Beijing – and probably the most beautiful temple we met.

By the way, you just have to walk around the city streets to take a walk through the history and culture of the Chinese people. On some neighborhoods, the architecture still translates the city’s old atmosphere, with the old houses called hutongs. On others you can feel and see the modern spirit, through the great glass and iron buildings. But the lion statues, the dragon signs, the ideograms, people and their local meals, clothes and costumes are always there, to remind you that you are in the capital of China.

 

Há alguns séculos as habitações de Pequim eram todas assim. Hoje os hutongs estão dando lugares a prédios modernos, mas os que restaram ainda servem de moradia aos pequineses, além de atração turística.

Some centuries ago, all of Beijing’s houses were like this. Today the hutongs are being replaced by modern buildings. But those which survived are still used as housing to the local people (and also as tourist attraction).

Eles produzem praticamente todos os aparelhos eletrônicos da sua casa, é toda essa tecnologia não é só para exportação.

They basically make every electronic product you own, and all of that technology is not only for export.

Opa! Vai aí uma fruta caramelizada no palito? A Tati viciou.

Can I interest you in some caramelized fruit on a stick? Tati LOVED it.

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Esse é o xadrez da china. Jogar é tão fácil quanto falar mandarim.

This is the chess game they play in China. Easy as speaking Mandarin.

O dragão, símbolo de poder, é uma das imagens decorativas mais representadas.

The dragon, symbol of power, is one of the most common decorative images in China.

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And of course we went to see it. The reason most travelers are there, the biggest tourist attraction in China (in all senses), the Great Wall! This huge monument crosses most of the north area of the country, and some sections are close to Beijing. A one hour train ride and we were there. During the week and facing cold weather, we even got to be alone in some parts of the Wall. No better word to describe it than AMAZING! Well… tiring as well, hehe.

 

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Vandalismo made in China.

Vandalism made in China.

Beijing was, in many ways, a surprise. After seeing all that craziness in India (the second most populous country in the world), we didn’t expect to find anything different here. But we found a place that is organized, clean, rich (not moneywise) and, most of all, with very friendly people. This city became one of our favorite destinations. Unfortunately, we had to leave. From here we fly south, to find the modern feel in Shanghai, and the traditional feel in the old villages. Soon we have a post about all of that. See you then. 🙂

 

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So, what do you think ?