Welcome to the journey I took in China. By far, it's one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen.
Let's start this journey where all journeys start...at the beginning. So grab your China map and let's get moving.
I arrived to the Beijing International Airport late at night only to be greeted by one of the BEST guides. Her name is Jessie.
Jessie's hometown in nestled in Southern China in the province of Guangxi. She, and Mr. Chao *our driver" took me to my hotel-the Bamboo Garden Hotel.
Here's the basic scoop on hotels in Beijing, the best ones are either in the Hutong Province OR close to the Forbidden City. I stayed in the Bamboo Garden Hotel in the Hutong Province of Beijing. A total gem. The hotel was once owned by a prince and is now owned by the government. Most homes in the Hutong Province are characterized by the size of their courtyard. In old days, the wealth and status of a family was noted by the size and privacy of its courtyard. The Bamboo Garden Hotel boasts a large courtyard surrounding by traditional Chinese architecture rooms. Stay there if you can, it's lovely.
My second day was all about the Great Wall of China, that and food (but we'll get to the food later).
The Great Wall of China extends from the far East of Inner Mongolia to Liaoning Province on the coast of Eastern China. While there is a spot located near Bejing which would minimize your drive time, by all means take the drive and visit the Jinshanling section. It's about a two hours drive from Beijing, but beautiful beyond measure. Here's an insider's trip: bring trekking poles. I'm an avid hiker here in Missoula, but even I needed to take multiple breaks along the 4 mile stretch. Of course, you don't have to walk a full four mile section of the Great Wall, there are multiple exit points along this stretch...but do yourself a favor and tackle it if you can. You can either start in the further parking lot and hike downwards (the easier way) or park at the lower parking lot and hike upwards (the more difficult path). Either way is beautiful and either way you'll have to pass over the "Stairway to Heaven" which is a very steep portion of the wall (thus the suggestions of the trekking poles). My day consisted of hiking along the Great Wall of China and asking my wonderful guide, Jessie, to pinch me every so often as to remind me it wasn't a dream. Back to Jessie's greatness, she guides hiking trips in China and specializes in more active trips. She was knowledgeable, personable and a great companion for a solo traveler such as myself.
After the hiking, my day ended in the Hutong Province at a local restaurant where they made their own wine.