Miscellaneous touristy tidbits.
Beijing Travel Blog› entry 42 of 251 › view all entries
April 26th, 2008 – by: cmgervais
Steve and Lisa waited around for me to finish blogging in the morning, then we headed off to Bally's for a much delayed workout. Again, we pretty much had the place to ourselves -- so odd! After Bally's we decided to check out the Starbucks (haven't been to one in China yet) where we treated ourselves to expensive iced drinks and lattes. It was so nice out we decided to sit outside awhile and enjoy the sunshine and our drinks.
Back to the apartment for showers and lunch (we picked up various noodle dishes from Carrefour and had a splendid noodle buffet for about $5!), then we set off with a full agenda for the day.
Would it kill the cabbies to let their passengers off at their exact destination? Must we always be let off in the "general vicinity" of our intended destination? Of course, we were let out about a half mile from the bridge. We soon found ourselves in the midst of an accidental visit to the Museum of the War of Chinese People's Resistance Against Japanese Aggression. (We thought the ticket booth was selling tickets for the bridge.) I am sure it's a fine place, but we just walked around the grounds in confusion, and did not go in. From there we walked along a "cultural street" with various shops -- no cars allowed -- then finally we found the bridge.
The "Marco Polo Bridge" (a.k.a. Lugou Qiao) was originally constructed in 1192, and has since been damaged and rebuilt, then widened in 1969. This structure is a very interesting composite of different eras, lined with carved couching stone lions spaced all the way down the railing. No two lions are alike, and Lisa and I admired their cute little scary faces. There were some good statues in front of the bridge, and all-in-all it was a very nice visit.
From there, a challenging search for a cab. We walked by a memorial-type park (this area was the original attack point by the Japanese in 1937. It began an 8-year occupation that was especially terrible for the Chinese. Millions lost their lives.). We finally got a cab and made the long drive to Drum Tower, where we met Steve.
Drum Tower has been the home to the 25 time-marking drums of Beijing for hundreds of years. Drums used to be beaten at regular intervals to announce the time, a practice that was outlawed when the last emperor left the Forbidden City (1910 I think). Now, only one of the original drums remains, and it is not in good shape. We checked out the view of Beijing from the tower (nice on two sides, bad on the other two), and then were treated to a drum performance on the 24 replica drums. From the Drum Tower we had a good view of the Bell Tower, which had been our next intended stop. We decided to skip it (good enough to see it from afar), and instead headed off for a walk around Houhai Lake.
We walked to the northern end of the lake on the street, through neighborhoods, then followed the lake path back down to the touristy restaurant area around Qianhai. Remember we went to this area before and had a good impression? What was I thinking?! It was overrun with pedicabs, overpriced bars and terrible restaurants all vying for the attentions of the hoards of tourists streaming the streets. White people in pedicabs were literally lined up to go into the hutong neighborhoods... people's homes have somehow become a main tourist draw. It seemed contrived and awful. After having an overpriced beer (me and Lisa) and a counterfeit Jack Daniels (Steve), we got the hell outta Dodge.
Our next stop was dinner at a vegetarian restaurant we read about in Fodor's called Jingsi Su Shifang.
After dinner we walked to Wangfujing Street yet again. No seahorse snacks this time... I wanted to check out the foreign language bookstore I had scoped out there. They had an enormous selection of travel books -- nearly all Lonely Planets and Rough Guides. No Fodors :^( I bought a book for Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos since we hope to do side trips there from our base in Thailand.
Then back home, where Lisa packed up her things for departure tomorrow. I hate to say good bye! But she will meet up with us again in Dubai. Or maybe sooner...?
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