Ill in Beijing
Beijing Travel Blog› entry 9 of 20 › view all entries
By the time we came to leave Ulaan Baatar, by train for Beijing, I had become iller to the extent that I managed 24 visits to the toilet in one day. I hope I don't need to write any more details; you can imagine the sort of thing. The prospect of having to get on a train for the next day and a half, including a several hour border crossing during which the toilets would not be accessible, was not the ideal scenario. However, the Lonely Planet suggested that medical facilities in Ulaan Baatar were rudimentary compared with those to which we would have access in Beijing, so I decided to do my best to get to Beijing. I suspected that I might have giardia, and you're not supposed to take Immodium if that's the case, but in the end the prospect of the border crossing was just too much and I decided to take them.
By this point in our trip we'd somehow accumulated a whole load of extra stuff. This was mainly due to the two wall hangings we'd bought in Mongolia. We each had a large pack on our back, a small one on the front, and a plastic carrier bag in each hand. Luckily the hostel in Beijing was right across from the main train station, and we were able to stagger in. How glad I was that we'd booked a room with a bathroom, given my current state of health.
The next three days were spent mostly in the room, or visiting the Internation Medical Centre. I saw two different doctors, and underwent all sorts of tests, after which they told me they couldn't find anything wrong with me, and gave me more Immodium and some other stuff to bung you up.
We managed to get out and see some of the sights as well. We really enjoyed the Forbidden City, and the Summer Palace. Had some great food, and were really impressed with how cheap the food was. In a small Sichuan restaurant just near the main entrance to the Lama temple (which is well worth going to see, incidentally) I had the hottest food I have ever had: a bowl of Dan Dan noodles, which consisted of noodles in a red-black evil-looking soup which smelt of pure chilli. It was impossible to eat any of the liquid, so I carefully lifted the noodles out and let them drip dry a little before eating them! Our visit to the Temple of Heaven park was slightly spoilt by the fact that it was being renovated for the Olympics, so we weren't able to see one of the main features.
One evening we went to eat at the night market, which is supposed to be authentic but looked to us like it was all done for the benefit of the tourists.
We spent a total of a week in Beijing, and by the end my health was improving greatly. (Little did I know that it was a cyclic thing, and within about three or four days it would be back with interest.) We managed a trip up to the Great Wall. We tried to get a bus up to the most touristy bit at Badaling, but a local taxi driver appeared to have a deal going with the bus drivers whereby they would tell us that their bus wasn't going there, and then he'd offer some ridiculous price to take us in his taxi (ridiculously low price, which would have suddenly increased massively once we were in the middle of nowhere with him).
We really enjoyed the shopping in Beijing. There are some great malls and department stores. And lots of places selling a great range of cheap souvenirs. I really loved Beijing, and could have stayed a lot longer, but we knew that our time in China was limited, because we had a firm date for getting to India.