The Great Wall of Taxis

Our Beijing cab zigzagged through the night as rain fell onto the busy city. Trisha and I sat in the backseat, excited to get to our hotel and fall into bed after hours of travel. I watched the water veins trickle down my window as the driver muttered to himself. The  guy behind the wheel seemed friendly enough, although it’s hard to say because he spoke zero English.

The cab stopped in front of a long, dark alley. I looked at Trisha, then the cabbie. He pointed down the alley and spoke some Chinese. Dear God.

Is this where tourists go to die?

After picking up on our look of dread, the chubby cabbie flung his door open and stepped out into the busy street. Trisha and I watched as he waddled down the alley with haste.

“Babe, this is sketchy,” I said to Trisha.

The cabbie emerged from the alley and gave us the universal thumbs-up. We grabbed our backpacks from the trunk, popped our hoods and followed the cabbie down the dumpy path.

With rain sprinkling down, we came to our hotel. After paying the cabbie, we shot inside the musty hotel. A kid behind the counter, who also knew zero English, looked up our reservations we booked online. His head began to shake and he dialed a number. Moments later, a voice came through the phone’s speaker to say our room was given to another person earlier on. Frick (as Josh would say).

We spent the rest of our night going from one hotel to the next. Finally, we found a spot to crash a couple hotels down the road. Welcome to China.

But don’t get me wrong—China was rad! Here’s our trip in photo form:

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The Terracotta Army

After taking an overnight train from Beijing to Xi’an, we took a cheap bus to this incredible mausoleum. I’ve never seen so many man buns in my life. Like many spots in China, you’ll be navigating through crowds to get a view like this, but it’s so worth it.

This clay army was made to protect an emperor who died in 209 B.C. According to my memory, the soldiers were found by a group of farmers.

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The Great Wall

This was my first Wonder of the World and it won’t be my last. Trisha and I took another crowded bus 45 minutes from the heart of Beijing. Again, it was just a few dollars—cheap like the rest of China.

The Great Wall was packed, so try to leave your personal bubble at the gate…

There’s also a sweet market just outside the main entrance to the Great Wall.

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We ate lots of sketchy things. Not because we tried to, but because we couldn’t read the menus in China.

The Forbidden City

This was another spectacular sight to behold. Located in central Beijing, the Forbidden City served as the Imperial Palace during the Ming Dynasty. Damn, that sounds cool! Although the photos make it look like a barren wasteland, this location was also chockfull of people. To be honest, I started calling it “The Forbidden Shitty” for awhile there.

But in the end, we were so lucky to have made it to China. It’s a few thousand miles farther than we normally adventure on a normal basis, but it’s one for the MTN Talk books.

Have you ever been to Asia? Let us know what your experience was like in the comments below! Thanks for reading.


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