Our last full day in China was mostly spent on a train. We finally used a DiDi (Chinese Uber but way better) to take us from our Airbnb to Shanghai Huangpu Train Station. It took us about 30 min to figure out that at this station you need to go through passport and bag security before you pick up your tickets. (Oi, it’s tough navigating a place when you can’t read the signs or ask anyone for help!) But once we were in it took all of 3 minutes for Addam to get our tickets thanks to multiple pickup points. (Best experience yet!) We went to McDonalds where we got some breakfast. Addam recorded a time lapse video of the station, which gives you a little glimpse into just how many people are there at any given time.
Our day started with a quick ride on the subway and a short walk to the Yu Garden. This peaceful, beautiful classical Chinese garden was built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Walking through it was like navigating a maze.
This morning we had a private tour to see the Terracotta Warriors. guide, Jenny, and our driver picked us up at the hotel. The Terracotta Warriors are located about an hour north east from downtown Xi’an. Along the way Jenny told us some of the history of how the Terracotta Warriors were discovered in the 1970s, and that they were built “to guard” the tomb of China’s First Emperor Qin Shihuangdi. She also described the painstaking efforts made by archaeologists to preserve them.
We woke up very early and sat in the courtyard, sipping tea while we waited for breakfast to open at 7. The breakfast at our hotel was a delicious Chinese buffet, which included dumplings, stir fry, steamed vegetarian and pork buns, sausage, and fruit.
We were picked up at our hotel by a private tour guide and driver in an air conditioned van for a full day of Beijing sightseeing. Our day started at the nearby Tiananmen Square, which despite being one of the largest public squares in the world, was packed with Chinese tourists. All 80,000 tickets for the day were sold out in advance.
We had the loveliest first day in Beijing. After landing at around 2:30pm local time, we made our way through security and customs within 30 min, which was much faster than I expected. I suppose we had already done the hard work at the Chinese Consulate in Houston where we had to submit a mountain of paperwork to get our visas. It also helps not to have checked any luggage.