Golden week gave me my first opportunity to travel outside of Beijing. I had six days off, so I made plans to go camping at the Great Wall with other foreign teachers and explore Shanghai on my own. As it was a national holiday, most of China was on vacation too. Travel guides discourage people from coming to China during this time because of the crowds. I even read online people urging others to cancel their flight and plans because traveling in China during the holiday was supposedly a horrible idea. I was a little bit concerned, but I didn’t want to waste my holiday. Quickly, I bought train tickets and booked a hostel. Wanting to make the most out of my vacation, I decided to be patient and expect chaos. Actually, I had a wonderful time and never really saw the chaos I was anticipating.
While climbing up the ruins of the Great Wall, we did not pass many people outside of our group. Hiking the unrestored section of the wall was more challenging than I expected, but it definitely felt adventurous. After hiking and eating dinner, we camped on the Great Wall for the night. Our tents were actually on top of it. We really were allowed to sleep there. It felt so cool to sleep on one of the greatest wonders of the world. In the morning, we woke up very early to hike higher up and watch the sunrise. The view was breath-taking.
After camping on the Great Wall, I traveled independently to Shanghai. The city was busier, but I never experienced the overwhelming crowds I imagined. There were long lines for the Shanghai Museum and Oriental Pearl Tower, but I could just walk into smaller museums like the Shanghai History Museum, Jewish Refugees Museum, and Propaganda Poster Art Center. I skipped the Oriental Pearl Tower but decided the Shanghai Museum was worth the three hours wait. Once inside, I enjoyed admiring China’s ancient artifacts without ever feeling crowded. Unfortunately, the Yuyuan Garden was closed during the holiday, but I enjoyed wandering around the city instead.
At the end of the week, I returned to Beijing after a fun holiday full of sightseeing. Although I enjoyed my time at the Great Wall and Shanghai, I felt comforted when my train arrived in Beijing. I was surprised to realize Beijing now feels like home. I’m happy I made the decision to make my home on the other side of the world. You can also make Beijing your home. Would you like to teach and explore in China?