~ / Brian Norlander / travel /
Beijing, Fall 2018

Visiting Beijing from October 26 to October 30, 2018.

During late October I took a long weekend trip to Beijing with two of my Swedish friends from HKUST, Viktor and Rebecca. The weather was mild during the day and got very chilly at night. In the mountains surrounding Beijing the leaves were changing color and it was clear that winter was coming.


Formerly known as Peking, Beijing is the capital of China as well as the third most populous city in the world. Beijing is the center of the political, cultural, and economic activity of the largest country on earth. It's subway system is the busiest and second largest in the world.

Beijing is very symmetrical with gridded streets. The Forbidden Palace is in the center of the city. The subway lines and highways make several rings around the city. Overall it was an incredible world city and I was very impressed by its combination of modern aspects as well as a long, rich history of China's impressive empire.

To enter China as a foreigner you need to have a visa. Americans are able to get a 10-year multiple entry visa, which is what I got in Hong Kong. My Swedish friends were only able to get 6 month or 1 year visas.

The streets were very large and gridded
The view from our hostel

Forbidden City

From 1420 to 1912 the Forbidden City complex housed the Chinese emperors of the Ming and Qing empires. It sits in the center of Beijing and is one of the most recognizable images of China.

Standing near Tiananmen Square
Left: View from above the Forbidden City Right: Jingshan Park
Viktor, Rebecca and me

Summer Palace

The Summer Palace is a place that Chinese emperors could relax and enjoy nature. It has a large pond surrounded with trees, temples and pathways.

The air quality was very bad during most of our trip. It was hard to see very far away and I noticed that my breathing was more difficult. Many people wore masks.

The Great Wall

We visited a section of the Great Wall called Mutianyu. Part of this section was rebuilt in the 1980s, along with a cable car to get to the top. After a 1 hour hike along the wall we came to an original section of the wall that was over 2000 years old.

Original section of the wall
This part of the wall felt so ancient it was a little bit surreal. It was so quiet and peaceful far away from the crowds.


There was a lot of amazing food in Beijing. From Peking duck to the street markets that included nuts and sweet potatoes we were able to taste many great foods.

Peking duck: Beijing is very famous for this dish in Beijing. You put some duck in a small pancake and then put sugar and vegetables inside too and then eat it.
Left: Roasted sweet potato - gooey on the inside Right: Chocolate ├ęclair
Cow stomach and other various animal parts

With full bellies and sore legs we flew back to Hong Kong after a 4 day unforgettable trip to Beijing.

/ Travel