One day after Lunar New Year, Beijing was empty. But the fact that there where just few cars driving was a perfect precondition for our sightseeing day in and around Beijing. We got to our destinations quickly and there was almost no smog! The first stop was at the Badaling site of the Great Wall. It was simply impressive to see a small part of the 8851km long wall. We were very astonished by the imagination of how many hours of work had to be put into this monument. Sporty people of the group started to talk about how it were if one would organize a (half) marathon on the wall; those were also the people who felt the urge to run instead of walking slowly. The decision to take the steeper route rewarded us with an even better view, plus we had a good laugh looking at the other side, where the majority of tourists went.
After an unsatisfying lunch (one of many in China so far) at a huge tourist restaurant, we proceeded to the Ming Tombs where 13 emperors are buried. One of them is Zhu Di, also called the Yongle emperor, who changed the capital from Nanjing to Bejing in the 15th century. To have a glance on his burial place, one has to pass various gates and buildings.
Every time an emperor died he would be carried along the sacred way to his grave. 36 big animals and some statues made out of stone are placed along the path to honor the deceased. We walked along this way next, before we headed back for the city.
At the end of our guided tour we obtained the opportunity to marvel at the bird’s nest – the Olympic stadium, designed by Swiss architects Herzog & deMeuron. The Olympic Park in Beijing consists of 23 stadiums and is located close to the City Center. The Olympic Village nearby has partly been transformed into a business area. Unfortunately, we have not been able to see the stadiums from inside due to organisational reasons. Some of us though took the chance to see the building from nearby, what turned out to be a great experience. The structure looks delicate from afar, but massive and impressive from near.
Back to the hotel, it was time to search for a place to have dinner individually. Besides, many of us booked a full body massage in order to liberate oneself of muscle tensions that accumulated during the trip.
During the whole day when we were driving on the streets of Beijing we realized once more how far China is already developed.
Day Team 14: Alfonso Aguilera, Philipp Döbeli, Adrian Naeff