Beijing, China

I can’t believe I finally made it out here! China, I can say that I’ve touched your soil. Years prior, coming to China was a thought I could never fathom. Believe it or not, I used to be vehemently afraid to fly. Yes…me!

One of my motivations for visiting Beijing…The Great Wall!
Welcome sign inside Beijing (PEK) airport
Growing up, I used to get panic attacks when I thought about flights. Yes, I’ve had my fair share of flights as a youth, but it was always a struggle. I always said if a flight was longer than 3 hours, then I couldn’t do it. I made peace with myself at a young age that parts of the world was going to be off limits to me simply because of flight time. Fast forward many years later, and that time has absolutely no bearing to me on whether or not I will see a certain place.

Riding the subway in Beijing
I didn’t have too many expectations prior to coming to China. The main reason for my coming here was as an entry point to Southeast Asia. I decided to go with Beijing, because I figure I could knockout the Great Wall since I’d be coming here.
Cute location right down the street from our AirBnb
Surprisingly (inset sarcasm) I stayed at an AirBnb, located in one of Beijing’s residential areas. 
Nearby street in the neighborhood of which we stayed
Everything was fine with this place and our overall trip, until our last few hours in the country, when I was startled by a very disturbing message from our host. Long story short she didn’t follow the proper measures to register us with the local authorities, and they found out we were staying there undocumented. 
We had to spend our last night at a local hotel (paid by the host) in order to avoid an unpleasant encounter with law enforcement. 

This situation was crazy, to say the least (and sounds much calmer here than what it actually was). It really put a damper on my last day, because half of it was spent dealing with this fiasco.

Another thing worth noting that any attention I’ve received while abroad was magnified times 1000 in this country, and it’s undoubtedly because I’m black. I’m totally OK with garnering attention, after all, it happens frequently in my everyday life, but the one received here was on a whole other level.

For three days literally almost every person we passed did a double take, tried to sneak pictures of us, or outright asked to take a photo of or with us. Upon asking a local what they fascination with us was, we were told that many of the people (especially in the tourists areas) weren’t natives of Beijing. A lot of them were on vacation as well, coming from various parts of the country. It was explained to us that many of these people have never seen people that looks like us, which is why they acted in that manner.

I totally get it. When you finally get to see something in person of which you’ve never seen before, it’s fascinating. However, these people (overall) lacked a sort of couth about themselves. Pointing, laughing, subtle giggles and trying to hide behind others to sneak a snapshot…

It should also go with saying that there were some people that actually had manners and asked politely to take pictures with us.

But it was simply overwhelming at many points and times, to say the least but we made it through 🙂
Kalina taking a photo with locals
Because of the way our trip ended with the AirBnb fiasco and stared at (or dismissed) almost everywhere we went, made this trip simply OK. I’m more than glad that I came, because I got to see so many historically sights, but it’s a place I’d be OK with not visiting again. There are other places in China on my list for sure and I’m certain that I will get there in the near future. 

Check out some photos below of my time in Beijing!
Yummy noodles I had for breakfast on Day 1
Outside the famous Tiananmen Square
Inside the Forbidden City
Just outside the Forbidden City

The ladies I traveled with
Sitting on the side of the Great Wall
Very nice young fellow we met from Hong Kong while climbing the wall

With our tour guide
One of the highlights of my time in Beijing: a tea ceremony
Have you been to Beijing? Any other parts of China? 
Have any desire to visit this country? 

Let me know below!


This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. denise Fraser

    Wow, thanks for sharing Jo. I find it very hard to believe that “they” have never seen “people like us” up close and personal….really?? I don’t get the laughter and finger pointing ?!? I’m sorry to hear about the accommodations snafu. The Great Wall visit was historical. Okay…been there, done that…don’t have to visit there again. Looking forward to your Thailand blog. I’m vicariously traveling with Jo !! Next….

    1. Jo

      Yeah, it was just a bit much. I did try my best to not let it damper my mood though! Also, AirBnb was notified about this mishap and are investigating the host, so its all good!!! I'll be working on the Thailand post soon, and as always, thanks for your continued support. It's much appreciated 🙂

  2. Janine Ella

    Sorry to hear about your experiences but I'm glad you didn't let them get into you. Wish I can visit China though. I want to see the Great Wall myself 😀

    1. Jo

      Yes, I try not to let situations put a damper on my experiences. I count them as such…experiences! Cheers to making it to the Great Wall, it's a great thing to see in person!

  3. Namra Saleem

    Sorry to hear about you experiences. It sounded very stressful with having to deal with the Airbnb thing, but glad you got to check out the sights. I would like to go to China too, now I’m more prepared incase of paparazzi and people pointing😬

    1. Jo

      Stressful indeed, but overall a good time! Hope you can make it out there!

  4. Unknown

    I would love to visit the places in your photos! They look amazing. I can't imagine that I'll ever get to go because of the cost and the fact that I've got a fear of flying.

    1. Jo

      Yeah, that flight is no joke, but if you do make it there I'd say save all of your sleep for the plane ride!

  5. Anneliese

    Super interesting and good to know! What a journey indeed!

  6. Nancie McKinnon

    I've to Beijing, Shanghai, and numerous places in between. My favorite city was Xian because of the terracotta warriors. I probably won't go back to China. The airport security is beyond belief, and twice I have almost missed a flight because they insisted on going through my luggage piece by piece. Very stressful!

  7. Nandita

    These things surely put a damper on the experience you could have had. I would have said 'ignore', but at this scale that's not practical. It's tough to enjoy the beauty of a place when you're turned into an exhibit by other visitors. However, I am sure there were quite a few reasonable people too, just the ratio must have been askew.
    – Nandita

  8. kumamon jeng

    Wow, I can see you have a great time in Beijing. I can see your big smile in the train! The way you do Beijing and mine are totally different. You catch train like the local and stay in Airbnb, what a true experience. Wow, you were the celebrity in Beijing and how do you feel? I hope you did not get annoyed and pose for them. I guess some people living in other part of China have not seen any foreigner before, that is why. I like your Bejing story very much as I got a different perpective! Keep smiling you look so sweet with that smile!

  9. I love this. I am happy you had a great time other than the mishap with the Airbnb and the glares of locals. The food looks amazing though.

  10. Elizabeth O

    I am sad to read your trip wasn't amazing and just okay. It is really disheartening to hear of the stares and the way you were treated.

  11. eliza

    I still remember the first time I visited Beijing. I felt like the its so big, that I cannot visit most the places even if I spend a week or two. I ride their train and that experience marked so as visiting their local market. But overall I can still say I enjoy exploring it.

  12. Danielle

    I absolutely love your photos! I need to get to China! It looks like such a cool place to visit.

Leave a Reply