For the first time in 19 years, I went back to China to spend Chinese New Year.
It’s not that I haven’t been back to China in 19 years, but in the past I’ve only returned every 2 – 4 years, and never during Spring Festival. I hadn’t had the time (school; uni) or money.
Also, stupidly, I’ve always been afraid of going anywhere in case I booked my trip but then something big was to happen back home.
What if I went away and ended up missing something important here in the UK?
But thankfully I now realise how silly it is to think like that, and now that I finally have enough of my own money and can be in control of my own time, I can start doing things differently.
This year, I want to do stuff. I want to go places, I want to see people.
I’m so glad I planned my trip back. What could be more important than visiting my grandparents and relatives who raised and loved me?
So, way overdue, here are some of the highlights of my trip.
(Some, because some moments I simply enjoyed so much I forgot to take photos).
Still, there’s so much to share with you that I’ll have to split this into multiple parts.
I can tell you now that this one’s a looong post – and most of it was all just one day! You might want to get some coffee and snacks before we start.
Go on, I’ll wait.
Even before the plane lands, you can feel the air is different; dryer.
The second you reach the ground, you begin to see the full extent of the infamous Chinese smog.
In case you can’t tell, those are buildings in the background. It’s not the skyline; this is how bad the pollution is. See? That’s a plane taking off in the not-so-far distance:
This was on the inside of a bathroom stall, I found it so funny that people had to be reminded to lock the door that I took a photo.
Unfortunately I realised after a week that it wasn’t actually meant to be there as a joke. I once stood in a bathroom queue behind a Chinese lady who literally just walked into a stall and started pulling down her pants with the door wide open.
That’s an aubergine (eggplant, to all my American friends)! A round aubergine! I should not have been so excited about a round aubergine, but look!! And exotic fruit:
I arrived in Beijing on the 23rd, I was pretty shattered and very much jetlagged. I was living at my uncle’s (mummy’s lil bro) with my auntie, cousin [let’s call him C] and grandparents. After a couple days’ rest, my auntie (mummy’s lil sis), uncle and cousin [we’ll name him H] picked up C and I for a wander around the Forbidden Palace.
My auntie and I at Tiananmen before we walked across the bridge and through the gates into the Forbidden City.
My cute (not-so-)little cousins
who are now both taller than me… with their Forbidden City audio tours. We ended up exploring the entire place, including the Palace Museums that people rarely visit and I hadn’t even realised existed. I snapped some pretty decent shots until we hit the museum, then I got lazy. Luckily my uncle was there with his DSLR!
I’ll admit, perhaps the quality of his photos were just a liiiittle bit better than my Samsung Galaxy S4 ;)
It is possible for Beijing, despite the pollution, to have blue skies.
And I think there’s just something magical about these majestic, 600-year-old Chinese Palace buildings, don’t you?
H – auntie – moi – C. I’m the shortest of the family! Booooo!
Someone obviously wasn’t ready for his close-up ;)
See the row of doors on the right? Those are the Palace Museums. The Forbidden City has multiple exhibition rooms; a row on the far right of the palace, and these were the ones on the far left (from the entrance). The ones on the far right weren’t open, but these were. We made our way down for a little snoop.
My cousins taking photos of me taking photos of them. Cheeky!
This was taken inside one of the rooms in the museum. I didn’t take many photos inside, but it’s full of historical gems and artifacts from the Ming to Qing dynasties. I definitely recommend a visit if history is your thing.
Sadly I have never been good with history so it really was a bit of a waste on me. Perhaps it was jetlag, but I wandered outside and just rested on the steps for a while instead.
Because of the location of the museum we ended up back at the entrance to the Forbidden City, oops. So we took a different route and walked through the courtyards on the right this time.
This is definitely somewhere you could spend forever exploring!
There are so many more of these halls that I’ll never have space to show you them all.
Shall we head to the gardens and be on our way?
The gardens lead you straight to the exit, where if you don’t return your audio guide it’ll start screeching at the gate. Charming!
I wasn’t even able to get out of my seat fast enough to start taking photos when the chef popped open his little fold-up table and started expertly slicing our Beijing Roast Duck before us.
Just look at that speed!
We were all famished by the time our food came and my cousins had already began wolfing down everything in sight. I actually thought I took a photo of all the food on our table after the Peking Duck had been served… Guess not!
The day wasn’t over yet… but I fear this post is getting a little long. Stay tuned for Part II!
Here’s a sneak preview of the second part of our day’s adventure, as well as a photo H took of me looking extremely attractive — not!