China trip – 9. China’s super rich

Around the corner from my youth hostel were many luxury hotels.  Some more from typical western type places, and some with more of the character of China itself.

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DSCF9445 1024China seems to be enjoying something of a massive economic boom in recent years.  There are shopping malls of top clothing brands from the west alongside traditional type simple stores and markets, being all made here in China of course.

As well as luxury cars parked outside the hotels, some big hotels have large windowed showrooms being rented out to sell new prestige cars.

Also, this vintage vehicle was there.   I think this belonged to a previous leader of China, maybe even Chairman Mao.

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8. The Great Wall of China Mutianyu district

10. Islam in Beijing and elsewhere



China trip – 8. The Great Wall of China Mutianyu district

At the Youth Hostel in Beijing, there was the chance to do several organised tours, there are live theatre events and guided tours around Beijing, but of course, trips to the Great Wall.   Actually, there are four different parts to the great wall you can visit.

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The bus ride from central Beijing to Mutianyu is about a couple of hours.  Once you get there, you walk upto the hills where the Great Wall, but many people pay for a cable car and so we did to save time.

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The Great Wall has characterised by these towers every so often maybe 3 per kilometer of wall, but the connecting bit where we went to has these small balcony sections, which are good for organised groups to visit and gather.

The Mutianyu district is the modern section as this was rebuilt in the 1500s.  My travel companion for this visit was a pilot for a well known US airline, young chap in his late 20s.

Things I learned about the Great Wall:-

  1. Its huge and spans much of China’s massive nation
  2. Its not visible from space, (old wives tale)
  3. The weather was quite nicely warm, actually really pleasant (was there April 2017)
  4. The atmosphere and nature here are wonderful, you can hear the buzzing of bees, lots of different types of trees and occasional honk of a pheasant.
  5. It’s physically demanding walking it, bits of it are very steep, its essential to be fit.
  6. In the event you get sick or an injury getting help could be difficult
  7. DSCF9532 1024Some people live up here, well there are locals who sell stuff to tourists and some folks earn money from just photos.
  8. You will see a lot of other foreigners including people from your own country.
  9. The bricks are black on the Mutianyu section.
  10. Not everyone is respectful of this beautiful world-famous landmark, there is graffiti in some of the towers.
  11. Perhaps this wall is the first example of the Chinese being the most industrious nation on earth.

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7. Beijing’s Happy Dragon Hostel and visitors

9. China’s super rich

Please help my friend’s church in Pakistan

I’ve helped create a blog for a friend’s church in Pakistan. 

Please show this to anyone who wishes to help the Pakistani people with prayer and donations.   This is a country I have not been too, but been chatting to my pastor friend for a number of years now, and am encouraged by how the gospel is reaching these people, and how the local body of Christ provides help to the poor and the needy in their community.

More content will be added soon.

China trip – 7. Beijing’s Happy Dragon Hostel and visitors


This is the Happy Dragon youth hostel in Beijing, its where I stayed, I really like it.  It’s in a small narrow street off the main roads but easy to get to from the Metro trains.

It’s wonderful, the staff there are welcoming, the front entrance looks like ancient Chinese with its painted doorway and orange lamps, and staff are friendly, has a decent bar, and easy to book day trips to the important places you will want to see.

Beijing’s massive city street plan are several concentric square-ish circles.  You won’t be able to see this map while you are in China – I’ll explain why a little later in this series.

The hostel pins up lists of tour groups to places like the Great Wall.   It also gives details of how to not get ripped off, as confidence tricksters are out to take advantage of tourists.

I met a lot of really interesting people.   A Canadian University lecturer who comes for a month at a time to teach English to Chinese students, me and him and a girl from Sudan had a few beers and chats about our previous travels, our plans to go next and my faith in Christ.    I also met American Christians just here for a few days and another Christian lady who had just come back from – North Korea!   I later met a secular Muslim from the UK who works as an engineer and was enjoying China and dreading going to Mecca in Saudi Arabia on a Hajj trip as he thought it would be boring!  I also met two different groups of Israelis, some on a trip to celebrate finishing mandatory army service and some others about 30.  I also met a lot of Australians and Germans.  There’s always the odd one in a youth hostel.   I’m sharing a room with strangers and its the way I have normally done travel, but some guy thought it was a good idea to make phone calls at 1 in the morning.

About two days after I got here, I wanted to make sure I was booked up for the Great Wall, as I wasn’t sure if the trips run every day or if there would be any problems with the weather.

6. Chairman’s Mao’s legacy

8. The Great Wall of China Mutianyu district

China trip – 6. Chairman’s Mao’s legacy

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Chinese communist leader Chairman Mao (Mao Zedong) died in 1976 but still leaves a lasting legacy in China.

He still seems well respected today, like with these framed pictures in a shop window.

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These little red books of his writings are on every gift counter.    Interesting enough, his teachings were collected by some people in the 1960s in the UK.  Communism seems cool to some in the west, just like the Che Guevara t-shirts were popular with students in Britain for a while.  This seems troubling.

5. Chinese police

7. Beijing’s Happy Dragon Hostel and visitors

China trip – 5. Chinese police

It seems China is serious about protecting citizens and tourists from petty crime or terrorism which is a good thing, I often feel that Britain and Europe are too trusting and naive when it comes to try to accept everyone and not screen out those who are a risk from radical Islam and other terror threats.

China’s police are everywhere.   As this is a communist country, does this provide reassurance from crime or worry?  I am not sure.

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In malls and places popular with tourists, the Chinese cops have these golf cart type vehicles.   I’d like to know how fast they go and if they could keep up with an escaping shoplifter!

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Underground stations in Beijing and Shanghai are well protected, each station requires bags put through an xray by staff as well as stern warning signs about not bring explosives or firearms onto public transport.

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This huge station in Beijing has a looped cartoon showing how the police protect citizens.  More on the trains of China soon.

4. Snowing seeds in Beijing

6. Chairman’s Mao’s legacy

China trip – 4. Snowing seeds in Beijing

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I think I have seen this from martial arts movies set in Hong Kong or Japan.

It seems at certain times of the year, this “snow” appears from the sky.    Its actually seed or blossom from trees.   It gives the parks in this area of the world a completely different look.  There is lots of it that blows everywhere in these parks.

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DSCF9436 1024The parks here are often among the major attractions in Beijing such as the Forbidden City, Summer Palace and Tiananmen Square.

These wooden huts tend to be beautifully decorated, even looking upwards in the rafters.

3. A few million bicycles in Beijing

5. Chinese police

China trip – 3. A few million bicycles in Beijing

9 million bicycles in Beijing was a song by Katie Meula, I’ve not found out how many there are.   There are a lot.   The main roads have dedicated lanes for bikes of all kinds.  In the two weeks I was in China, I witnessed two accidents with bikes hit by cars, which thankfully neither were serious, and folks appearing to have just a few scratches and bruises.

The weird thing is the variation of bikes, mopeds and scooters kind of blur together, and also some are almost cars.   You know in Europe and US you have the tiny Smart car which can be driven in the UK with a motorcycle licence and before then the strange and eccentric Reliant 3 wheeled car?

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So bikes and scooters can often by simple vans for deliveries or a simple crude taxi.

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So, I have seen motorbikes with two or three wheels, some electric and some petrol (actually less given plans to drastically reduce pollution) some with handlebars or steering wheels and some like this have a plastic car-like body on them, some are even four door.

2. Beijing’s industrial aftertaste

4. Snowing seeds in Beijing

China trip – 2. Beijing’s industrial aftertaste

Walking around Beijing, the sights of this massive city is everything is huge.   Very quickly I realised one China’s most biggest challenges in society.   In the middle east, I am used to political instability and the threat of war of neighbours.

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In Beijing, the number one concern is pollution.

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The government has taken the drastic step of forcing old and polluting cars off the road.

The thing that surprised me was Beijing doesn’t immediately seem to have many poor people.   I am sure they are, they seem to live in other districts of the city.   Ancient cars like the ones I saw in Morocco and Turkey simply don’t exist.  People on low incomes simply don’t have cars, they have bikes and scooters, which I’ll explain later come in lots of unconventional styles.  I think much of China’s manufacturing is in another city, as I didn’t see any obvious factories belching out smoke.

Pollution in Beijing means local people have an app on the phone that tells you the toxicity of the air and in some cases, people might not go out at all, and many people are wearing face masks.

My observations with pollution were the skyline in the distance was a murky brown colour, and on my first night sleeping meant I have a funny taste in my mouth.

1. Introduction

3. A few million bicycles in Beijing


China trip – 1. Introduction

In the last year or so I had a real interest in China, a nation both ancient and modern on a large chunk of Asia with over a billion people.   I have heard stories about how China has the largest number of people coming to Christ, good relations with Israel, although a nation with restrictions and still officially Communist.   Today, although China is manufacturing capital of the world by a long stretch, everyone wants to do business with the Chinese as the economy is booming and folks there want to buy British and European made products.

I got offered to go on a 9 day mission trip in April 2017 to teach the Bible to current believers there in Beijing, and after a while trying to get my work to get me the time off which took me weeks, I had 16 days to use.    Later on, I found that the trip was full.   I was disappointed but as I already got a flight with Alitalia to fly Gatwick to Beijing via Rome for a real good deal of £395, I decided to make my own plans.

Getting a visa is tricky.  I left it a bit late and most sources online were recommending me get one from a Chinese travel shop in China town area of London.   This was frustrating as I had to get two lots of photos from a nearby post office, as the first ones were the wrong size.   The visa is £180.

This isn’t China, but I do like this part of London.  There are 2 maybe 3 churches of Chinese believers round here.   It would be really interesting to see what its like for Christian to live or work in this district.   I’m also keen to see how Chinese people respond to the life of Jesus.    My trip is purely a holiday and to see and document this fascinating place.

2. Beijing’s industrial aftertaste