Beautiful Beijing


We recently took a trip out to Beijing to see the sights and sounds the city had to offer. As it was not a long break, we had to decide what we wanted to do and see, and make a list of priorities. I was content with seeing Tianamen, the Forbidden Palace and the Great Wall (of course)! Coming to China would be incomplete without seeing the Great Wall. Now… onto seeing the other sight that is visible from the moon – the Great Barrier Reef! (one day!)

We arrived in the afternoon and boy what a change it was! It looked overcast and was far colder than the temperate climate we were used to in Yunnan.

Smoggy street when we first arrived
Smoggy street when we first arrived

The haze was something we were warned about and came prepared with 3M’s 9002V face masks (the ones with little vents). And almost immediately, we had to use them. It was like fog, but there was a distinct smell, like a mix between exhaust fumes and something burnt. Not a super strong odour, but definitely present.


It was actually really nice to experience cold weather. Autumn is my favourite season and it was very pretty.

Autumn leaves on the footpath
Autumn leaves on the footpath


On the 2nd day, we headed to Mao’s Mausoleum, Tianamen Square and the Forbidden Palace (all walkable distance from each other). It was a day for walking and we were both so sore afterwards. The haze had not lifted so all my photos turned out a little lifeless and grey. A bit depressing. Also, it did drizzle a little here and there.

Map of the Tianamen area
Map of the Tianamen area
Chairman Mao's Mausoleum
Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum

We didn’t go in…. super crowded and we weren’t that interested at seeing his resting place. Outside was fine.

The People's Monument
The People’s Monument
Giant flower basket display in the middle of the square.
Giant flower basket display in the middle of the square.
Cute grandma in traditional dress carrying her little princess.
Cute grandma in traditional dress carrying her little princess.
The entrance
The entrance
Inside the Forbidden Palace - it was too huge!
Inside the Forbidden Palace – it was too huge!
The back exit of the Forbidden Palace
The back exit of the Forbidden Palace

The following day, we decided to go to the Summer Palace. This was where the Royal families would come to retreat from the main palace. It was absolutely massive (290 ha). We caught the subway there to Bei Gong Men stop on Line 4. Even though this is the back entrance to the Palace area, it is a downhill journey from there to the lake.

Beijing Subway Map

One must pause here to dedicate a few words to the subway system in Beijing. One of the best underground railway systems I’ve experienced. Easy to navigate, English signs and easy ticketing system. 2 RMB from any one stop to the other (no matter how far you travel), aside from the Airport Express Line (which costs 25 RMB). Even the automated ticket machines were relatively easy to use. Super convenient and we didn’t get hassled at the airport with taxi drivers. Well done Beijing, well done.

Bridge Reflections
Bridge Reflections

Back to the Palace… It was originally built in 1750 to celebrate Emperor Qian Long’s mother’s birthday. The gardens are so peaceful and the lake (Kunming lake) is huge, taking up about half the garden area. If you visit here, I suggest you get those walking shoes on, because we made the mistake of thinking we could hire bikes inside the palace to ride around (read on Tripadvisor somewhere), but were mislead.

Autumn colours in the palace
Autumn colours in the palace
Kunming Lake with the Tower of Fragrance of Buddha in the backgound
Kunming Lake with the Tower of Fragrance of Buddha in the backrgound

While sitting at this spot, overlooking the lake, I was sketching in my sketchbook. This young boy, probably around 4, came and snuggled next to me (it was cold) and watched me sketch. He told me how he enjoyed drawing, and encouraged me whilst I was drawing. His embarrassed parents kept calling to him to leave, but he stayed for quite awhile. Such a cutie! Made my day for sure.

Pagoda ontop of stones in the Palace
Pagoda ontop of stones in the Palace
Nan Luo Gu XIang entrance - night markey street
Nan Luo Gu XIang entrance – night market street

The following day, we took it a little easier as the day after would be the Great Wall. So we visited San Li Tun village (Soho) and spotted the biggest Uniqlo I’ve seen.


And there were foreigners everywhere. Almost more than locals. To be honest, it wasn’t really our scene. Too modern and ‘high-roller’ for us. I thought when it was ‘village’ that it would be vintage with old buildings, but that was definitely not the case.

Tree lights display along the road to the Birds Nest Stadium and Water Cube

The Birds Nest Stadium was actually a bit difficult to get to. Due to the APEC summit in Beijing occurring during the time we were there, many of the main roads were blocked off. We couldn’t physically get to stand infront of the Stadium and Water Cube (Aquatics Center). We even climbed a raised highway area (like around 60 other people) to get the shot below. It was ridiculous.

The Bird's Nest Stadium
The Bird’s Nest Stadium

My favourite and most amazingly blessed day was definitely the Monday we went to the Great Wall. We hired a private driver who was recommended by a friend. We requested we go to the Mutianyu part of the wall. The Badaling wall section is supposedly more crowded, tour bus – ridden and expensive. I’m so glad we went to the Mutianyu section. It was such a great experience.

Map of the Mutianyu section
Map of the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall

We went to the right side. And ventured even past the end of this map. It was great. There were hardly any people around. We didn’t arrive super early, around 11am. The walk/climb wasn’t too bad. I was expecting worse. There were some hairy bits where I felt like the wall was in my face as I climbed (almost vertical).

The view of the left side of the Great Wall from the chairlift lookout
The view of the left side of the Great Wall from the chairlift lookout – it stretches away to the left!


Looking backwards after climbing this section. Scary stuff. The hand rail is there for a reason. Probably the steepest part we climbed.
Looking backwards after climbing this section. Scary stuff. The hand rail is there for a reason. Probably the steepest part we climbed.
The view of the 'left side' that goes towards the Badaling area over the hills.
The view of the ‘left side’ that goes towards the Badaling area over the hills.
My favourite part of the wall, the unrestored crumbly version. Amazing!
My favourite part of the wall, the unrestored crumbly version. Amazing!


It was lovely just being able to sit at one of the crumbling turrets on the unrestored part of the Great Wall and look out over 3 large sections that split off. It was amazing. I was able to sit there and sketch 3 points of view of the scenery. It was amazing. I loved the rolling, fading, misty hills, the crisp, but sunny weather and the contrast between the restored and ‘nature-reclaimed’ wall sections. We spent a few hours just up there. I sketched, whilst hubby went for a walk on the old section and ended up hiking a fair bit away. Amazing. Definitely a very memorable experience.

Coming down - a scarier experience than going up
Coming down – a scarier experience than going up

Also, we could see little villages settled into the hills on the ‘other side’ of the wall. I kept having the Intro Credits song from Mulan playing in my mind. It was beautiful. I tried to picture how they could have built this mammoth of a structure. Something man-made that can be seen from the Moon. WOW.

All up, this was definitely the highlight of my trip.

Street Food vendors
Street Food vendors

With all the heavy packed part of the trip over, we hit the street food that night. This is a street off Wang Fu Jing Da Jie (the main night scene street).

All kinds of skewers
All kinds of skewers
The 'traditional-looking' Wang Fu Jing Snack Street
The ‘traditional-looking’ Wang Fu Jing Snack Street
Really love how the man dressed like people used to
Really love how the man dressed like people used to
Live, yes, live and wriggling scorpions on sticks
Live, yes, live and wriggling scorpions on sticks
Hubby really ate 3 of the baby, deep fried scorpions.... He said they were crunchy o.O
Hubby really ate 3 of the baby, deep fried scorpions…. He said they were crunchy o.O

They sold all kinds of other delicacies on skewers – like Huntsmans, water snakes, lizards, starfish, silk work larvae, locusts, grasshoppers, beetles and seahorses. The scorpions in the picture above were 25 RMB a stick. Rip off! But… once in a lifetime for hubby – I hope! FYI, I didn’t eat them!


So all up, I really enjoyed my first taste of Beijing. I think it was a pretty enjoyable trip.

Thanks to hubby for organising the whole thing. I was very impressed by how smooth it went and all of Father’s amazing blessings along the way…. Including the 35 RMB cup of hot tea (tea bag and hot water) at the bottom of the Great Wall. o.O”

Love him
Love him

Anyway, that’s it. Leave any questions you have in the comments. Next post will be the video I made of our trip.

DnA Diaries 9 ~ Affliction and Hobbies


So I’ve not given a proper update in a long while. And was wondering what to do about it. Was actually going to vlog it, and still may, but wanted to write something first. To be honest, I’ve been taking a break from emails, blogs, etc. I think with the sudden influx of responses and support (which is all good to me), I was a little overwhelmed. But I think I’m about ready to get back to it!

Anyway, how’ve I been going? Well. I’ve since been back from a trip to Malaysia to visit family and most importantly, my parents. They actually arranged this for me which was such a blessing! I was a little nervous about the trip as a whole as I would be travelling alone, without my hubby. And I’d not done a solo trip overseas since I was 16. Which was a long…… time ago. So, I was a little emotional on the bus to the airport, and on the plane.

So, I was in Malaysia for 2 weeks and it was such a blessing to me in so many ways. Every family member, and friend who I met were so lovely and made me feel so welcome. Most probably did not know what I was going through necessarily, but were so hospitable anyway. My parents were very understanding, and I think them seeing me in the flesh also put their hearts at ease. It was a good time and at the time, definitely what I needed. I was also able to share with some extended family about my struggles and it was just so great. The reaction and support I received was very positive and I felt very encouraged. Thanks to my parents for being so generous and supportive of the rest and family comfortableness (?!) that I needed. Thanks to my dear cousin and husband for allowing me to stay with them whilst I was there. It was such a good break and a lovely home. Thanks also to my Aunt who was so lovely and accommodating at the beginning and end of our trip, as always!

It was a bit of a different trip for me. I felt like I was able to really talk and spend more time with my cousins and family. It was really such an uplifting time overall.

But, glad to be reunited with my hubby after 2.5 weeks. This was definitely the longest we’d been apart since getting married. But at the same time, good that I was able to do that too. To know that I can still do things on my own without freaking out.

So, how’ve been since coming back? I’ve been ok. Got sick almost immediately after arriving back. Flu, then got infections, then got allergic to the medication I was taking for the infections. Had cold sore attacks that I’ve never seen that extreme before. Seriously gross and recurred. Which was so so frustrating and discouraging. It was so uncomfortable and sore. So yeah, had a bit of a down period. I was thinking up how to discribe how I felt, but ‘afflicted’ is the best word for it. A friend sent me Lam 3. And I would encourage anyone going through afflictions to read this and be encouraged.

So yes, more bad days than good in the last month. But having all these allowed me to spend quality time at home. I picked up crochet, cross-stitch and of course, drawing. Love it! Couldn’t believe I could crochet a scarf in like two days… Cross stitch I chose was a huge one…. and it is taking some time to complete. Drawing has been such a fantastic activity and hobby for me. Wow. As Dr said, I need to spend a bit of time daily doing a hobby. It definitely de-stresses me and is actually quite fun. Helps when I have insomnia too. Was encouraged by a friend to do a blog post of my DnA doodles. Might do that, or a video of it next. Will see. I’ve also discovered certain forms of doodling create feelings of stress relief. So I might share that too. Not sure.

Been thinking of vlogging (video logging) my feelings and how the days go for me. Not too sure. But it would be alot easier to do that than to spend ages typing out what I’m wanting to say. Also, it may show people back home how we are going and how life is for us here. Anyway, any feedback on that would be appreciated. Not that there would be much to vlog on…. but still.

I’ll leave you with the encouraging passages I’ve drawn so much from, in Lam 3. The bolded section was especially helpful.

I am the man who has seen affliction
    by the rod of the Lord’s wrath.
He has driven me away and made me walk
    in darkness rather than light;
indeed, he has turned his hand against me
    again and again, all day long.

He has made my skin and my flesh grow old
    and has broken my bones.
He has besieged me and surrounded me
    with bitterness and hardship.
He has made me dwell in darkness
    like those long dead.

He has walled me in so I cannot escape;
    he has weighed me down with chains.
Even when I call out or cry for help,
    he shuts out my prayer.
He has barred my way with blocks of stone;
    he has made my paths crooked.

10 Like a bear lying in wait,
    like a lion in hiding,
11 he dragged me from the path and mangled me
    and left me without help.
12 He drew his bow
    and made me the target for his arrows.

13 He pierced my heart
    with arrows from his quiver.
14 I became the laughingstock of all my people;
    they mock me in song all day long.
15 He has filled me with bitter herbs
    and given me gall to drink.

16 He has broken my teeth with gravel;
    he has trampled me in the dust.
17 I have been deprived of peace;
    I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18 So I say, “My splendor is gone
    and all that I had hoped from the Lord.”

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke
    while he is young.

28 Let him sit alone in silence,
    for the Lord has laid it on him.
29 Let him bury his face in the dust—
    there may yet be hope.
30 Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
    and let him be filled with disgrace.

31 For no one is cast off
    by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
    so great is his unfailing love.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction
    or grief to anyone.

34 To crush underfoot
    all prisoners in the land,
35 to deny people their rights
    before the Most High,
36 to deprive them of justice—
    would not the Lord see such things?

37 Who can speak and have it happen
    if the Lord has not decreed it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
    that both calamities and good things come?
39 Why should the living complain
    when punished for their sins?

40 Let us examine our ways and test them,
    and let us return to the Lord.
41 Let us lift up our hearts and our hands
    to God in heaven, and say:
42 “We have sinned and rebelled
    and you have not forgiven.

43 “You have covered yourself with anger and pursued us;
    you have slain without pity.
44 You have covered yourself with a cloud
    so that no prayer can get through.
45 You have made us scum and refuse
    among the nations.

46 “All our enemies have opened their mouths
    wide against us.
47 We have suffered terror and pitfalls,
    ruin and destruction.”
48 Streams of tears flow from my eyes
    because my people are destroyed.

49 My eyes will flow unceasingly,
    without relief,
50 until the Lord looks down
    from heaven and sees.
51 What I see brings grief to my soul
    because of all the women of my city.

52 Those who were my enemies without cause
    hunted me like a bird.
53 They tried to end my life in a pit
    and threw stones at me;
54 the waters closed over my head,
    and I thought I was about to perish.

55 I called on your name, Lord,
    from the depths of the pit.
56 You heard my plea: “Do not close your ears
    to my cry for relief.”
57 You came near when I called you,
    and you said, “Do not fear.”

58 You, Lord, took up my case;
    you redeemed my life.
59 Lord, you have seen the wrong done to me.
    Uphold my cause!
60 You have seen the depth of their vengeance,
    all their plots against me.

61 Lord, you have heard their insults,
    all their plots against me—
62 what my enemies whisper and mutter
    against me all day long.
63 Look at them! Sitting or standing,
    they mock me in their songs.

64 Pay them back what they deserve, Lord,
    for what their hands have done.
65 Put a veil over their hearts,
    and may your curse be on them!
66 Pursue them in anger and destroy them
    from under the heavens of the Lord.