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Beijing March 27

Beijing Travel Blog

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Decided to have a lay in since we still had some sleep to catch up on. Realised we were overspending already so today we would stick to a budget and try to get each meal for about £1 each. Off we went down the backstreets to look for some breakfast. It was here that we found a guy on the corner selling fresh pineapple on a stick for 10p each so we got 2. Next Andy found an unknown bread with bean sprout thing for 10p so he had that as well but I was already full. On the way to the tube station we saw roasted chestnuts so we got a big bag of those to take with us on our trip.

Arriving at Tian’an Men Square about 12 noon we had expected it to be busy but nothing had prepared us for the absolute hordes of people that were there.

It was crazy, we could hardly move. We spotted people coming out of the Mao mausoleum which our guidebook had told us was closed for refurbishment. It must be open though so we want to go in and see the corpse of Chairman Mao but at the gate see the sign saying it closes at 12noon so we are too late! That’s what happens when you get lazy and have a lay in!

We head for the Forbidden City instead, stopping for a few chestnuts along the way and trying to avoid all the people trying to sell us tours, art and toys. Once inside what we think is the Forbidden City we see a courtyard full of more crowds. We go to the ticket booth but they are only selling tickets to walk to the top of this courtyard. We walk for what seems like ages and enter another courtyard which looks much the same as the last one but still we’re not there.

This goes on for what seems like miles and just when our feet and backs are aching we arrive at the entrance. Once inside we find ourselves in….guess what? Another courtyard! This one has a few bridges in it but looks pretty much like all the rest. On and on and on we walk, looking at building after building, all with a different name but the same appearance. Bored we race through it all just to get to the back and be in the imperial gardens, these are much more enjoyable and scenic. All this time I’m trying not to drink anything so I don’t have to go to a squat toilet but by now I’m bursting. Andy says that they have some western toilets in the block he went in so I look and there is one out of about 10 cubicles that has the western toilet sign on it. I’m so excited as I stand outside the locked door waiting to go in.
I wait for ages, surely nobody can be in there that long? I try the door but it is definitely locked so give up in the end. Think they locked it on purpose so I couldn’t go!

Exiting the Forbidden City we decide to go to the park opposite and sit in the sun for a while but when we find out there is an entrance fee to get in there too we give up that idea. We can’t afford all these entrance fees for everything, it’s such a rip off.

We start the long walk back but we’re so tired from all the walking and people keep offering us rickshaw tours around the old Beijing Hutongs, then one guy says he’ll drop us off at our tube station after the tour so we agree, stupidly thinking it may be a good laugh. This guy starts out giving us some interesting facts on the walk to his rickshaw but then it turns into more of an exam.

He asks how many concubines the emperor had, Andy guesses 20 and I guess 1000 but he laughs at us and says NO 3000, as if we are really stupid!!! He asks lots of stuff we can’t answer and makes us feel like idiots. We pass lots of nice shinny new rickshaws then he says here’s ours and it’s a grotty old blue ripped thing. Typical! Sitting in the back of it we feel a little scared since there is nothing to hold on to. Then he rides straight out into the oncoming traffic, arggghhhh! It’s a hair raising ride which gets really boring after 5 mins and it lasts for a whole hour! Our cyclist driver puffing and panting the whole time like he was going to drop dead any second. Andy reckons he was putting it on. We just kept willing it to be over!

Back near out hostel (Red Lantern) we grab some late lunch of chicken and rice which is £2.

50 each so bit over budget but we’re starving and annoyed so don’t care by this point. I eat quickly so then I can get back to the hostel and the toilet!!!

After a rest we realise we have to find a bank as we’ve run out of Chinese money. Andy goes off on an adventure of his own but comes back with hands empty and a filthy look on his face. The bank was shut, the money changer wanted ID which he didn’t have with him and the ATM declined his card!!! Oh dear, by then everywhere is shut, we want some tea and only have £1.80 left!!! Lets see what we can get with that then! We look at the menu at the hostel and realise we can get a large bowl of noodles each with a water and a beer. Not bad really, the noodles were surprisingly nice and filling so we are pleased with ourselves.

Now it’s off to get a shower in our freezing room and get dry with a towel which hasn’t dried since day 1.

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photo by: Deats