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Other than the Great Wall, nothing about China has ever really screamed “COME HERE AND SEE ALL THE THINGS AND EAT ALL THE FOOD AND SPEND ALL THE MONEY” at me. It always seemed to me that once you get past all the on-the-surface seriousness and the bureaucracy and the red tape and the whole Tibet thing which, let’s face it, just ain’t good, it would be an absolutely lovely place to visit. It has everything you could ever want in a place: history, culture, pretty views, nice buildings, interesting food and lovely people.

But it has never seemed like my kind of thing.

And I’ve never seen the point of spending the time, money and effort on taking a trip somewhere if you’re just going for the sake of ticking it off a list and not because your heart is actually in it.

With that being said, I’m a big fat hypocrite and ended up only going to China to tick something off a list (that something being the Great Wall, of course). But I didn’t really have to put any money or effort into it – just a bit of time. And trust me, my heart was REALLY in that list!

I had to get from LA to Sri Lanka, and there were no *affordable* direct flights, so a stopover was inevitable, and Beijing was actually one of the cheapest options (along with Singapore and various cities in India). My only concern was the whole visa situation – one of the main turn-offs of China as a holiday destination in the first place. Luckily, a relatively new scheme (by relatively new I mean it’s been in force for over 2 years now, so not new at all) in China enables citizens of certain countries to visit the country visa-free for up to 72 hours. It’s way more complicated than it sounds though!

Read all about my visa-free China experience here.

I realise that the title of this post is “In Pictures” and so far there’ve been no pictures and I’ve just been waffling on about lists and visas and how I have never actually wanted to go where I ended up going, but it’s kind of relevant: I just wanted to explain why I was only there for 48 hours. Because tell someone you went to Prague or Barcelona or Dublin or even New York for the weekend and they’ll say “oh wow, that’s nice. Tell me all about it!” Tell someone you went to China for the weekend and they’ll be all like “eh? What’d you do that for?

And one last thing before I – or more accurately, my fingers – shut up… the reason this post is just all pictures and no actual explanations is because, quite frankly, I had no idea what I was looking at half the time! I don’t speak Chinese, I don’t read Chinese, and most of the time the random buildings that looked really cool and all “Wow, need to Instagram this” were just bog-standard restaurants.

So yeah, enjoy looking at my restaurant photos.

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19 Comments

  1. Looks like it turned out to be a good layover. The photos are lovely, even if you don’t know what they are ;). The Great Wall is worth a stop on Beijing all on its own. Glad you made the effort to get the short visa.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Definitely! The Great Wall is the only reason I made the effort really, but I’m glad I did as Beijing itself was super interesting!

  2. carlinn meyer Reply

    Seems quite a distance to travel for such a short time but when you get to do what you want and there is no visa involved ( like my worst thing ever to sort out! ) then I think it would definitely be worth it. I would love to see the great wall as well especially with no one in sight if that actually ever happens hehe 😛

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Agh, I know, visas are the worst! I tend to find myself gravitating away from countries that have lengthy visa processes. Like Russia. I’ve always wanted to go but just have no patience to sort out a visa!

  3. I was in Beijing 2-3 nights and I got a sore throat from the dirty air, that’s what springs to mind when someone mentions Beijing. Your restaurant photos are Instagram worthy, I’ll look for them on your Instagram page and like them in the near future! I spent about a month in China, but 48 hours would have been enough!

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Oh, well your last sentence really makes me want to go back for more 😛 Haha! I didn’t actually find the air to be that bad. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised how clean it was!

  4. I get why your blog is in pictures and you seem to have done a fabulous job capturing the places you visited in your short trip. But somewhere in your reservations against visiting China, i sense some unwarranted bias born out of ignorance. I have not been to China either but why say no when I dont know! Its okay to have reservations against it if you have been there, had experiences and didnt find it worth recommending but reservations without visiting is borderline irrational.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Hi, thanks for commenting! I’m not sure if you actually read my opening, but not once did I give any negative connotations about China. I don’t have any “unwarranted bias born out of ignorance”. In fact, if you go back to the first few paragraphs I say “it would be an absolutely lovely place to visit” and then go on to say “but it has never seemed my kind of thing”. As in, it has always seemed like a nice place but not the kind of place that interests me personally. The same could be said for Benidorm or even some of the islands in Thailand – they seem like wonderful places, but I know they’re not my kind of place. And I don’t think calling me “borderline irrational” is really necessary or appropriate, but thank you all the same.

      • Thanks for clarifying. I think you are right and i might have misunderstood-misjudged unnecessarily and probably in haste. I apologise for my overly critical remarks

  5. Wow Beijing looks incredible. The buildings are so distinctive. You’ve really captured what I imagine when I think of China. I would love to visit Beijing.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      I think I got lucky and ended up staying in a VERY stereotypical Chinese looking neighbourhood! 😀 But everything was so beautiful – all the lanterns were my favourite.

  6. Wow the photos are unreal! I have never been interested in going to China myself, I have Chinese friends who made rather negative comments about visiting and it really put me off!

    I am so wrong.

    What you shown me today is making me rethink about going to visit!

    • rhiydwi Reply

      I think people are always more prone to comment negatively on where they come from. I always bad mouth my hometown but to an outsider it’s actually quite a pretty place!
      You should totally go if you ever get the chance!

  7. I have mixed feeling about China. I almost booked ticket a few months ago because they were dirt cheap (like $400 return from Sydney cheap) but I didn’t when I realised it would be freezing in January. I have no issue with you going for a weekend. If you like it great, you can always return. And if you don’t, well you haven’t wasted weeks in a place you hate.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Oh yeah, don’t go in Winter, I’ve heard it’s enough to make your toes fall off!
      I wouldn’t have gone to all the effort if it wasn’t en route to where I was headed, but it worked out pretty well in the end! And like you said, had I not liked it it would only have been a weekend down the pan!

  8. Sounds like you had a good layover after all. I have always had the same idea about China as you. The Great Wall is on my bucketlist, but nothing else there is. Except from maybe Hong Kong, but I don’t know.. Love your photos. I’m sure there’s a lot more to China than what we think.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      If I hadn’t needed a layover somewhere between USA and Sri Lanka, to be honest I don’t think my feet would set foot on Chinese soil for years! Very glad it worked out as it did though because the Great Wall was incredible.

  9. We love some places, we hate some. I think it’s okay … some places don’t fit into our expectations. I always wanted to visit China but have heard people saying that there is so much population and pollution that it is difficult to breathe and moreover language is also a hindrance. Definitely, it is not very high on our list but maybe someday to tick off one more country from the list

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