Beijing Travel Blog

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People i met here, who contributed to and improved my trip: Julia (Russia)

I was elated to have finally made it back to Beijing and after dumping my bags, enjoyed taking a nice hot shower. This cleared my head a little, although my body was craving sleep and food. I went online at the hostel to check my email and find out Julia's progress, so i was a little concerned to find my inbox without a message from her.

It was nearly 01.00 and i didn't have a clue where i could get anything to eat, and i didn't want to go to bed before she arrived, so i sat up with the owner of Qianmen Hostel, a guy named Cain and chatted for quite some time about his beautiful hostels history and also what hope we had of making it to Tibet.

At 02.30 he had to go to bed and i didn't much fancy sitting in cold reception all alone, so left a message with the girl behind the desk to send any lost looking Russian girl up to my room!

Around 03.30 i heard a rat-a-tat tatting on the door and our 7 weeks apart had finally come to an end! It was strange for the first few seconds, but very soon it felt like we had never been apart. Her hair was now curly, but everything else seemed just how i had remembered. Both of us were completely exhausted from all the travelling that we had partaken in and after an hour of catching up, agreed that the rest of the news could wait until morning!

I slept like a log and it felt great to have someone beside me again, to keep me warm and  steal the duvet from! The rain was pattering on our roof all morning, so it was a great excuse not to move and keep drifting back to sleep.
Eventually, as so often happens, my stomach dictated that it wanted feeding, so we donned our rain gear and headed out.

The Hostel was actually located just a 2 minute walk from where we had stayed on our previous visit, so we went into the Hutong near us, to try and find a nice little restaurant. Not wanting to be out in the rain too long, we settled on an establishment that we found had photos and some English descriptions within their menu. I forgot just how big the Chinese portions could be, so the Chicken and peanuts, Sweet and Sour Pork, Egg Fried Rice and Plain Rice proved to be a real bellyful. 40 minutes of gorging ourselves to bursting and we had to ask for the rest to be packed, so as we could eat it later!

There was a lot to talk about at night, so we sat in the hostel bar and enjoyed some 5RMB ($0.
70), 660ml bottles of Tsingtao, whilst also finding time to play a bit of ludo and cards. The food that we had brought back with us from earlier not only proved enough for our Dinner, but supper too! Our first day back together had been a slovenly, idle one, it was great to get back into the swing of things :)

The following day we revisited the restaurant from the previous day for brunch. This time we settled for one serving of pork with mushrooms, to be accompanied with some egg fried rice, and this proved to be more than enough. It was then only a 5 minute walk to reach Tiananmen Square, where we looked around the South Gate and Mao's Mausoleum, making jokes that we probably shouldn't have, about 'pickled Mao'.

Along with the Mausoleum, the square is also host to the 'Monument to the People's Heroes' and a huge flagpole, from which the Chinese flag flies proudly and is guarded by two soldiers.
On either side of the square, you can find the Great Hall of the People and the China National Museum. There is also a clock doing a countdown for the Olympics.

The weather had begun a bit gloomy, but as we reached the Gate of Heavenly Peace, where Mao's portrait is hung from, the sun began to peek through the clouds and this was our welcome to the Forbidden City. The ticket to gain admission was a reasonable 60RMB ($8.50) although this frustratingly didn't cover all the rooms, some of which had additional charges.

The next three hours were spent wandering between the buildings and getting lost in the smaller passageways. The sky looked great for half an hour or so, giving me a chance to take a few nice photos. As usual, the Chinese tourists there were playing dumb and standing in the photo at any given opportunity.
I swear i could ring their necks sometimes.

At one point there were a procession of them who seemed to walk along, see i had a camera pointing at what was behind them, so just stopped and dilly dallied around, until a group of people came to take that persons place. I would wait for the group to leave, then one other person would do the same as the original person. I stood for over 5 minutes, just waiting to get the shot i wanted and felt so disappointed that people could be so petty and immature. The fact is that they saw what i was doing and were deliberately getting in my way, why? This happened on several occasions around the complex and it started to really get on my nerves.

By the time we left it was 17.00 and the sky had turned dark and looked like it could rain at any second.
We ummed and arghed about whether to go home or not, and in the end decided to head into Jingshan Park. The park is well known as the place where Chongzhen, the last Ming Emperor hung himself. Today there is  small memorial, to mark the sight where a dynasty finally collapsed. Heading up the hill, you eventually come to a pavilion, where there are 360 degree views of Beijing. The most impressive direction is facing south, as the vastness of the red tiled Forbidden City becomes apparent.

We circumnavigated the park in another 30 minutes, before heading along the Forbidden City's moat and finally making our way back across Tiananmen Square towards our hostel. In the evening we took a little walk through the hutong that was nearby, but i was a bit disappointed at the lack of action, as everything seemed to have closed up by 22.
00. Last time i was in Beijing i remembered street stalls selling all kinds of tasty snacks and a real buzz about the area. Maybe the government have closed all this down due to its proximity to the centre of the city, but i think it will be sorely missed.

In the hostel we had a few beers whilst playing Ludo and cards and couldn't help but laughing at the couple on the table next to us who were playing scrabble. The guy was blatantly cheating, coming up with words that didn't exist, after been told that all his other attempts at spelling were incorrect. I believe he won with some huge score on a triple letter word, which he claimed was the name of a Rasta God, amidst protests from the poor girl!

The following day we moved into a 6 bed dormitory from our private room, so we could minimise on costs.
This sorted, we went for lunch in our favourite restaurant, just down the road. Looking at the photos, a selection of a small plate of dumplings with some chicken and peanuts and rice was selected. The dumplings came first and our jaws nearly hit the table when we saw the pile, which was about 4 times bigger than it looked in the photo. I'd estimate there were between 30 and 40 dumplings, but it could have been more! Been people who don't like to see food go to waste, we did our best to plow through it all, but eventually had to give up, even though there was a fair bit left. Waddling off to the subway station, i realised how we had become so fat the last time we were in the country.

First real stop for the day was Silk Street, where we went and bought ourselves a pair of waking boots each.
As you may recall, mine were pilfered in Busan and my trainers both had holes in, so it was a much needed purchase. The bargaining was fierce and although we walked away happy with the price we paid 170RMB ($25) i later began to feel i should have got them a bit cheaper. But as i always say, if you are happy at the price and they are happy, then it doesn't really matter what the best price was, so better not to think about it.

We had arranged a meet up with some travbuddy's for the late afternoon, so decided that before hand we would take a look around a part of the city that we hadn't really had chance to look at before. We meandered along Jianguomennei Dajie from Yonganli subway to Dongdan subway, then down to the Railway Station and finally along the Tonghui River as far as Guomao.
Some of the architecture was fantastic and i enjoyed the pedestrian friendly, wide boulevards.

We arrived at our designated meeting area a little early, so went into KFC for a coke and a legendary egg tart, which were already proving to be an addictive treat. At 17.30 travbuddy Charlene turned up with her friend Lisa and after introductions had been got out of the way, we caught a taxi back to the apartment, which they were renting during their stay in Beijing.

A rather round abouts taxi ride eventually got us to our desired destination and we were soon to be introduced to Charlene's husband Steve and like any good hosts, they had a beer in our hands before our bums could touch a chair, they obviously knew how easy it was to find favour with me :)

For some time we sat around the table in their living room and just chatted and shared some drinks and nibbles.
The apartment they were staying in was really beautiful and i must admit i felt a little envious to know that we'd be slumming it in a dormitory that same evening!

After discussing numerous topics, we got round to talking about our future plans in Beijing and by coincidence, we were all planning on going to the Great Wall the following day, only different sections. After a little gentle coercion, they were persuaded into roughing it by local bus to a section that i had earmarked as worth a visit.

Our stomachs were now rumbling, so we had to make a choice on where to eat. Original discussions had centred around Peking Duck and then Fish and Chips, but after finding out that Charlene and Lisa were vegetarians, it seemed a little unfair to be dragging them to either of these places.
Instead we took option three, which was a noodle restaurant, recommended in their guidebook.

Surprisingly we somehow managed to get two taxis to take us to our desired restaurant, which looked doubtful at first, as the lead driver had no idea of the location! A loud greeting was given as we entered through the door and soon we were been surrounded by every member of staff within the restaurant.

Charlene had the thankless task of ordering, as she was left with the only menu when the music stopped :) As the staff clambered around, a young waitress was nominated as the 'translator', even though she spoke less English than we spoke Chinese... or so it seemed! Normally hand gestures and pointing work just fine, but the added complication of pretending to know English became a little too much and it was hardly surprising that shortly afterwards, we found ourselves with a table full of food, some of which we hadn't ordered!

The main dish delivered to us was 4 beers, but equally important were the massive portions of noodles, which came accompanied with several small side dishes that you could add.
Charlene and Lisa opted out of the fatty, greasy meat dish, which was actually what contained the real flavour, whilst i foolishly added two servings, which was a little bit of overkill. As a result i needed to drink some rice water to flush the grease out of my mouth.

Other dishes included spring rolls, a huge portion of broccoli and some small potato like items, which tasted pretty good warm, but a bit congealed and minging when left to cool. The meal was an overall success, with the conversation been the highlight. It was interesting to meet travellers who are doing a trip on a different budget and listen with envy at the luxuries they afford themselves :)

To finish the night, we tried to go and eat scorpion in one of Beijing's night markets, but it was surprisingly closed by the time we arrived at 22.
30. We therefore said our goodbyes and arranged a meet up place for the following days tip to the Great Wall. Julia and I walked home via the Gate of Heavenly Peace and Tiananmen Square, before retiring for an early night, in anticipation of the big day ahead!

Deats says:
Not long untıl another sımılar ınstallment :)
Posted on: Jan 13, 2009
mybu84 says:
i read it again and i love it:)
Posted on: Jan 12, 2009
portia says:
just wanting to know you guys are doing OK. ;) julia said she has been wearing the ear rings.
Posted on: Apr 23, 2008
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photo by: Deats