When my friend and coworker Hanchi started planning his wedding in his hometown of Xi’an, China, he half-jokingly invited myself and some other coworkers. I half-jokingly accepted, and took a quick look at flights. For the week in question – the last in September – flights were an extremely reasonable $600 for round-trip, multi-city tickets.
Both myself and my coworker Geoff booked tickets, sent out our passports out for tourist visas, and arranged hotels. All-together we booked the flights, travel, and lodging for under $1,500 a person. I’d spent time living and working in China in 2012 and 2014, but it was Geoff’s first time in the country. so we planned to spend some time sightseeing in Beijing before heading to Xi’an for the wedding.
We flew out of Seattle on a Friday afternoon via Hainan Air. I’ve had some really bad experiences with Hainan in the past, but our flight to Beijing was relatively uneventful. Geoff and I got off the flight in Beijing, and Hanchi and his now-wife Norah continued on to Xi’an.
We were welcomed by a particularly smoggy day in Beijing, and got a Taxi straight to our hotel. We stayed in The New World Hotel, which was clean, and well-located. That evening we met one of Hanchi’s college friends for dinner at a Beijing-style hot pot restaurant.
On our first full day in Beijing, we woke up early and jet-lagged. We walked from our hotel to Tiananmen Square and watched Chinese tourists line up for the various museums and attractions around the square. We had a street-side breakfast of dumplings and fried dough.
After a quick nap back at our hotel, we walked to the Temple of Heaven. The grounds of the Temple actually contain a number of structures: The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, The Imperial Vault of Heaven, and the The Circular Mound Altar. We spent a few hours exploring the grounds.
We had a late lunch of Soybean paste noodles at Old Beijing Zhajiang Noodle King (老北京炸酱面大王). That evening, we had Peking Duck at one of Beijing’s oldest restaurants Bianyifang (便宜坊).