Peking duck.....are you Peeking duck??

Beijing Travel Blog

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The crowds trying to get to Tianamen Sq

So, after our workout on the wall we got dropped off at our hostel.

We had managed to find a hostel that wasnt as expensive as all the others, we bargained them down to half price after Rachel told them we would have to sleep at the station otherwise (a real possibility at that point). We were very sweaty from climbing the wall so the first thing on everyones mind was a nice long shower.

Proud Chinese
Unfortunately as I was going down the stairs I slipped, landing on my butt with a thud and managed to bruise my left elbow, right hip and right calf. I mean seriously, I climbed 12km over a dangerous, crumbling monument without mishap and then slip down some silly hostel stairs?!?!?! I so cant brag about these bruises. To make my humiliation complete there were several people sitting at the base of the stairs and the guys amongst them very maturely cheered and said the acrobatics had started. I picked myself up, trying not to go red and limped off to the showers.

Once I had got over my display of clumsiness we ventured out to join the throng of people filling the streets. We tried to get to Tianamen Sq which was about 500 metres from our hostel but found it impossible. The street had been closed off to everyone except incoming traffic.

Fuzzy fireworks shot
The road was packed with people but they were still letting cars and buses down, it was madness! After a few minutes of being packed against sweaty bodies and having our feet trodden on repeatedly we gave up and retreated to Leo's Hostel to watch the Opening Ceremony on the big screen TV. It took us longer than normal as we kept getting stopped by different Chinese people wanting to have their picture taken with us. The hostel was packed with travellers but there was also a large number of staff, all decked out in red, waving flags and cheering wildly everytime something happened. The Opening ceremony was fantastic, the commetary on the tv was of course in Chinese so we missed out on the explanations of what each display was about but the atmosphere in the hostel was electric. As the atheletes came out there were great roars as the travellers in the hostels cheered their country.
The Imperial Palace
The Chinese got the loudest cheers of the evening, and once the flame was lit and the fireworks started going off everyone shot out of the hostel to the end of the road to watch the fireworks which were being set off in Tianamen Sq. It was an amazing time, in one day we had trekked 12km over the Great Wall of China and watched the Olympic opening ceremony in the city hosting it!

The next day we had to check out of the hostel as we were catching a train in the evening but were able to leave our bags with them so we coud visit the Imperial Palace (formally the Forbidden City). The Imperial Palace used to be the home of the Emperors during the Ming & Qing dynasties, large rooms set within a huge courtyard, full of beautiful gardens. The day was amazingly hot, we were sweating like crazy and the place was FULL of tourists (yes we are tourists too, I know).

Rachel pleased after eating Peking duck
We spent a good portion of our time sitting down in the shade trying not to get heat stroke so didnt get to see the whole place but it really was just a maze of rooms and we figured we got the idea so retreated to somewhere with air conditioning.

Our next destination was Nanning, the closest place to Vietnam that we could get a visa. We had intended to get a train straight to Nanning but it was fully booked for the next three days and we couldn't afford to stay in Beijing because everywhere had hiked their prices through the roof so we made the decision to get a train to Shanghai, hoping we could get a train to Nanning straight away *crosses fingers*. The first sleeper was 13 hours long, not too bad as we went to bed soon after boarding and arrived shortly after 7am so didnt spend too long with nothing to do, but we almost missed it. After the Imperial palace we went to a Peking duck restaurant as Rachel said she couldnt leave without having it. The place was quite posh, the chef brought the duck (the whole thing, head and all *pukes*) to the table on a little cart and carved it in front of us then the waitress showed Rachel how to fold her pancakes. I of course couldnt eat anything so sat and watched as Rachel and Sarah happily munched away. By the time we had managed to get back to the hostel, collect our bags, flag a taxi down (not an easy task) and fought our way through traffic, we boarded the train five minutes before it pulled out of the station! Once we arrived in Shanghai we went straight to the ticket desk, hoping there would be space on the train that day. Thankfully there was space on a train that was leaving at 5pm. The bad news was that it was going to take 30 hours! *groans*. We had some time to kill so put our bags into storage at the station and headed to the hostel we had stayed at when we were last in Shanghai. We were able to get something to eat and drink, plus relax out of the boiling heat.

At three we caught the metro back to the station and reclaimed our bags, then caught a taxi to Shanghai south train station, making sure we were in plenty of time for this one. The station was packed so we found ourselves a patch of floor to settle down in and played a game of cards. We quickly found ourselves surrounded by a group of very interested Chinese people, watching us. It was a surprise to suddenly find ourseves the centre of attention but tried to ignore them and focused on our game. After a while they seemed to get bored and drifted off, leaving us to it. We were able to board our train a short while later and were happy not to be stared at anymore. The short version of this journey was that it was long, very very long. and B.O.R.I.N.G. There were many games of cards played, many fizzy drinks drunk, and lots of stupid games played and by the end we had gone slightly mad with cabin fever and were glad when we arrived in Nanning.

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The crowds trying to get to Tianam…
The crowds trying to get to Tiana…
Proud Chinese
Proud Chinese
Fuzzy fireworks shot
Fuzzy fireworks shot
The Imperial Palace
The Imperial Palace
Rachel pleased after eating Peking…
Rachel pleased after eating Pekin…
photo by: Deats