Peeking Around Peking
Trip Start Oct 12, 2010
84Trip End Mar 24, 2011
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Where I stayed
The Tiananmen Gate is located in the north section of the square and it is the entry to the Forbidden City which was the Chinese Imperial Palace for many emperors and dynasties
It was really interesting to walk through the outer courtyards and to see the various entry gates inthe Forbidden City. We had the chance to tour through the many buildings and alleyways of the inner court with it's residences of the concubines, various museums and collections but it was a cold day and after an hour or so of walking around the large outer courtyards, most of us opted to head back to the hotel and warm up.
This day ended with an overnight train ride from Beijing to Xi'an
The train itself was very basic but clean and orderly. On this train, we had 'hard sleepers' which were sleeping compartments housing 6 bunks in each. Once we boarded and were assigned our bunks, these were our seating and sleeping areas for the next 12 hours. There were no lounge areas or chairs other than a few fold down seats in the aisles. To pass the time, people chatted, read, played Uno (which had dire consequences for those who lost and had to approach and say ridiculous things to local Chinese people on the train :). Train staff went up and down the compartment aisles all evening with carts of food and sundries but most people brought instant noodles and used the boiling water located at the end of the compartment to heat up their suppers. The only western bathroom was 6 train cars away and was unheated and rudimentary. The compartments didn't have curtains on each bunk or between the compartment and the aisle but it was relatively dark at night, just not private in any way. I must admit, I am not a fan of night trains and didn't sleep much on this one. We had a chance to see how Chinese people typically travel around the country, but for me, I have to admit that I prefer flying, buses or day trains with lounge chairs. I do have one or two more night trains to go on this journey when I arrive in Egypt so I am steeling myself now!
Bye bye Beijing - we are off to further adventures in China!