Happy Birthday Han!!
Beijing Travel Blog› entry 31 of 35 › view all entries
We arrived in Beijing on the evening of March 31st, hours away from my birthday! We got a taxi to the biggest and cheapest hostel in Beijing, dropped our bags in the room and went to the bar for a birthday drink (as it had now hit 12 'o' clock!). We woke up the next afternoon - MY BIRTHDAY!!! - and went for a nice stroll around the Ming City Wall Ruins Park. On the evening we went to try a 'cook your own' restaurant (more like let it fry on your plate! and thats if they let you do it yourself!) which was a bit of a disaster as they didn't seem to have any of the dishes we wanted (apparantly!). But the evening ended well in our room with a box of chinese sweet snacks and a bottle of plum wine (don't forget the Oreos!!).
We did lots of sightseeing over the next few days, beginning with The Temple of Heaven Park. This massive complex housed many temples such as 'The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests' and 'The Imperial Vault of Heaven'. They were impressive buildings built with the purpose of offering sacrifices to the agricultural daities in a bid to bring good fortune. The sight was a bit of a maze to get around and some of the buildings on the outskirts were closed which we thought was the workings of our spy (a note on our spy: whilst in Japan we were informed by an enthusiastic Australian friend that every visitor to China is assigned a personal spy, and whilst walking around the old city wall, thought we spotted ours in the form of a woman and a Chihuahua who walked past us several times in the space of half an hour!)!! On exiting the park after a lovely day we were delighted to pass a group of old Chinese men playing games of Chinese chequers and traditional instruments (without forgetting trance-granny, who was part of a group of old ladies dancing their hearts out to some hardcore trance in the ornate corridoors of a chinese building!).
We spent an hour or two at an ancient observatory strolling around its courtyard, museum and rooftop, with a set of old, exciting astrological instruments (this was extremely interesting and informative as in the mid-19th century German soldiers took the instruments, returning them only after the 1st world war.). Afterwards we embarked on a trek in an attempt to locate Beijings Hard Rock Cafe (we'd seen it in the taxi on the way from the airport and thought it would be nice to pay a visit!). We failed and after 2 hours of walking settled for a Baskin Robbins icecream instead (rocky road! I wouldn't ask for any more!).
We awoke on Easter Sunday, having designated it a 'lazy day' and with no easter eggs, treated ourselves to a couple of bars of chocolate (any excuse for a bar of Snickers!). After that small pitstop we jumped back into our busy regime with a trip to Wangfujing Dajie - the shopping street (she just couldn't resist!). We browsed the shops and snack street (I don't know what they think the word snack means but scorpions, starfish and seahorses don't qualify! However, the little sugar sculptures were amazing!) before making a visit to the cinema to see Alice in Wonderland with Chinese subtitles (we felt like the only people in there that actually understood the jokes)!
For our 8 year anniversary we spent the day in Tianenman Square (the notorious square that saw much political unrest involving students and their protests, and the home of the Chairman Mao Memorial, another embalmed communist!). We finished this day trip with a look around the front gate inside which there was a museum telling the history of the square and it's walls during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. We went for a taty meal in the evening at what had become our favourite Chinese restaurant (more like fast food outlet. I have a feeling all the food here is quite bad as the chinese are notorious for using MSG), Yoshinoya, then had a good few celebratory drinks in the bar of the hotel (with our favourite barman serving! The nicest guy in China - he gives us free peanuts and knows what we want before we order!)!