On our way over to Seoul and Tokyo, Jason booked us a 20ish hour layover in Beijing both directions. I was skeptical, seemed like a lot of hassle to see part of such an intimidating (at least in my mind) city but oh how my expectations were shattered.
We arrived around 8pm. Feeling brave we decided to take the airport express train and the metro to our hotel which meant navigating the Hutongs, alley way neighborhoods in Beijing, at night. we had about a 15 minute walk and then came upon the street! Luckily, it wasn't too hard to find the alley that would lead us to our lodging, The Orchid Hotel, an oasis in the heart of a big city.
Jason in front of our hotel room.
After venturing out the night before eating a dinner of dumplings and then running to a Chinese Brewery, we crashed at about 10:30pm. Having been up since 7:30AM in California and only taking two quick naps on the plane it was definitely time to sleep, even if Jason thinks he could have stayed out longer!
We we woke up and headed to the hotel's restaurant for breakfast. I can safely say I have never had food this delicious at any hotel in the States AND we didn't have to pay extra for it! This puts any continental breakfast to shame, even the hotels with the build your own omelette bar. I ate shakshuka with Chinese flat bread and Jason ate "The Chinglish", accompanied by unlimited green and black tea. I have to say the food even put to shame some of the best brunch spots I've been too.
We unfortunately didn't have much time to site see in Beijing, since we needed to head to the airport around 11am. Our hotel was located directly around the corner from the Drum Tower and Bell Tower and so we began our day there. It was definitely worth walking up the towers and we happened to catch the first Bell Tower performance.
After the towers we decided to wander around the Hutongs toward the Lama Temple and to the subway. We explored the streets and stumbled across some of the coolest little shops and cafes. As we were walking toward the subway we instantly regretted not staying in Beijing longer. From what we saw and experienced it is a beautiful city with wonderfully nice people and so much to explore. Needless to say I changed my mind am excited for our next layover in Beijing!