So I’m finally here in Beijing on the start of my trip to China and North Korea and it feels like I’ve had an adventure already.
Yesterday I got up prompt at my hotel near Gatwick airport and, after final checks of my hand luggage, drove up to the Airparks car park at the airport to park my car and transfer to North Terminal for my flight. I decided to fly Emirates to Beijing via Dubai as it was one of the cheapest and definitely more desirable than Aeroflot, Air China or the risk of a British Airways strike.
After some last minute research to double check how the Beijing Subway worked I boarded my flight on an Emirates 777 on time. The flight was smooth and the on-board entertainment was amazing. More music, TV and films than you knew what to do with plus a sky map and cameras looking forward / downwards.
There was a long queue for transit in Dubai but the departure lounge was amazing… so many shops, cafes, restaurants, bars, a Starbucks and free wi-fi which helped pass the time.
My flight to Beijing was on an A380 in the early hours of this morning. After what seemed like an eternally long take-off due to the size of the plane we flew towards Beijing – passing over Iran, Pakistan, Tibet and China along the way.
Immigration in Beijing was so informal. The person in front of me didn’t look like his passport photo so they let him in on his driving license, before greeting me with “hi mate”. After clearing immigration, health screening and collecting my bags I made my way to the Airtrain terminal for my ride to Beijing.
I managed to get my Airtrain ticket ok but trying to get my subway ticket for the main subway was a whole different game. I read online that the best thing to get was a “Yikatong” charge card and put as much money on it as you needed for your visit so asked for one of those… she sold me a ticket back to the airport which I didn’t need. I tried buying a single ticket from the machine but it wouldn’t let me as I didn’t have any money small enough. Eventually a woman at another desk sold me a single ticket so I decided to just give up and buy singles from the machines during my time in Beijing… It doesn’t cost any more just make sure you have 10Yuan notes or less ready.
After finding my way to my hotel I relaxed for a bit before heading to Tiananmen Square for some night-time photo opportunities. I couldn’t stay long as I need to catch up on some sleep ready for a long day tomorrow, however while I was in the square taking self-photos of myself to try to save time an old Chinese man came up to me and offered to take my photo outside The Forbidden City which was really nice – it seems the people of Beijing are quite friendly compared to some of the reviews I have read.
Here is a video of the Forbidden City / Tiananmen Square water show that I saw of which there is a photo earlier in this blog. It also contains a sweeping panorama of Tiananmen Square: