Day 0 – Landing in Beijing
Destination: Wangfuijing Street (王府井)
This was my second trip to China and my first time to the ancient capital of Beijing. We landed in Peking airport on an early afternoon after a long flight from America and we were absolutely exhausted–especially me since I have an extremely difficult time falling asleep on the plane. This time however, I was lucky and I think I got an hour or two hours of sleep in before we landed. Usually I stay awake the entire flight and I have gone 32 hours without sleep once, which I definitely do not recommend. At some point you start to wonder if you’re shaking or everything around you is shaking.
Since roaming charges are expensive, we decided to purchase a pre-paid SIM card when we arrived in Beijing. These cards come with a set amount of data and it makes traveling around in a foreign country so much easier. Unfortunately, the Peking airport didn’t really have what we were looking for. We eventually found a counter that sold pre-paid SIM cards but they were subscription-based and were pretty expensive. So we decided to forgo these SIM cards and used the airport wifi instead to find our way to our hotel.
In order to use the Peking airport wifi, you have to first find a wifi kiosk machine, which are pretty easy to spot. You then scan your passport picture using the machine and it will print out a receipt with wifi login for you to use. We also downloaded a map of the Beijing subway station which came in handy since we did not have access to wifi once we left the airport.
The Beijing subway station is the cheapest way to travel from the airport and it is friendly towards foreign tourists. There is a subway station connected to the airport so we headed there next after collecting our stuff. It was so hot and humid once we entered the subway station as half of it was outdoors. Oh, how have I not missed you, China’s dying summer heat.
At the subway system, there are ticket offices where you can purchase a metro card for 20RMB. This 20RMB is a deposit and you can return the card to the airport subway station and certain stations for a refund when you leave. The way these cards work is that you place whatever amounts of money you want and you swipe it on the turnstile before entering. Leaving or going to the airport will cost you about 25RMB each way but each ride to anywhere else will cost you about 3RMB irregardless of distance. That is super cheap and convenient!
However, if you are hauling heavy luggage with you (like us) or if you have small children, I recommend that you take a taxi to your destination as there are a lot of stairs in the subway and depending where you are going, you may need to transfer several times. At some point, I contemplated of just throwing my suitcase down the stairs, I mean they are built for that right?
After much asking around and hauling our luggage around, we finally found our hotel. It was already early evening by the time we had trekked from the airport to hotel. We put our stuff down and got ready for our first day in Beijing. That said, it was already nighttime and we were exhausted so there wasn’t much to do at all. We grabbed a quick dinner from a local shopping mall center near our hotel and we headed to the only attraction we planned for today — Wangfujing Street.
Wangfujing Street is a busy shopping street that is just crowded with tourists, locals, and lots and lots of delicious food. Everywhere you looked, there was a street vendor selling some kind of snack whether it is a grilled corn on a cob, candied fruits on a stick, or what they’re infamously known for–scoporions skewers.
If scorpions on a stick isn’t your cup of tea, they also have sea horses and starfishes as well. I’m ridiculously afraid of bugs and pretty full from our dinner so we didn’t try any. We walked around the street for a while, enjoying the liveliness and festivities, until we found a cellphone store tucked away in the corner. I’m pretty sure it was targeted at tourists because they charged us 300RMB for 1GB of data and that’s pretty pricey. But it was the only store we found and so we ended up buying 1GB from them before heading back to our hotel after a long day of travel.
End Day 0