Trip Start Dec 12, 2010
156Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Another busy journey on the way back, picking up loads of people. Took a little longer as we hit a little Beijing traffic, but we made it back which some afternoon to spare – A successful visit to the Great Wall by ourselves for about a third of the price of our hostel tour. We then decided to head over to the Birds Nest – which Simon did have to explain to me was the Olympic stadium, not some famous nest of a famous bird... Blonde moment!
Got the tube there and a really cool thing about Beijing is that all tube rides are 2 yuan. It doesn't matter how far you go, or how many changes you make, always 2 yuan. London... take notes!
So a short ride and a couple of changes we were on the new line – towards the Olympic stadium..
When you leave the tube station, you enter a pretty smart shopping area, then walk through some modern garden and up the escalators to be greeted by the Birds Nest and the Water Cube. Pretty special sight. What a stadium. If you haven't seen it, check it out on google – its a mishmash of metal and concrete that creates a really cool outer layer to the stadium, that does in fact look like a birds nest.
We walked a little closer and were approached by loads of men shouting tickets, tickets... Didn't think you need a ticket just to look at it, but we later found out that there was an Opera show on, so they were trying to sell us tickets for that.
Got some great photos of it, and some sneaky ones were taken of us. People pretending to take pictures of their friends and at the last minute turning their camera to take a picture of me?!? Don't quite understand the attraction really, but maybe I should start charging for all these photos. And where exactly are they going to end up. There's no facebook here, so am I on top of fire places all around China? Or is it just something to show their mates?
Back to the hostel and yesterday when we were walking around looking for food, we came across a really posh restaurant – I mean, park your car for you posh – and were looking at the menu, which was really cheaply priced
Went back to our place as they were having a dumpling evening. We just missed the dumplings being made, but got to try them once they were cooked. Not the greatest things, but then I'm not sure if that was just because they were being cooked by novices.
Got chatting to our room-mates, a great couple of guys from Canada, and one from the States – who when we asked what everyone did today, his reply was “had my wisdom teeth taken out” Did not expect that!?
Saturday 21st May:
So we only had 2 full days in Beijing thanks to our ticket fiasco, one of them being a Saturday – and that's apparently the day when the Chinese tour groups flock in their thousand to see the sights. So we had to choose whether we did the Great Wall or the Forbidden City on the week day. Well as you know, we chose the Great Wall and today we were off to brave the crowds at the Forbidden City and Tiananmen square. So onto the tubes we went, and already noticing how busy it was getting and we arrived at the Tiananmen station, headed out and were actually shocked at how many people were there. You'd think I was exaggerating when I said thousands, but I'm pretty sure that's how many there were. Its was heaving. But well controlled. Queues being ushered this way and that. We were soon within the city walls and standing in a queue trying to buy our entrance tickets. Of course, we had people pushing in front of us, but after about 20 mins we had our tickets and off we went
There is some crazy number like 800 rooms, or something close to that, that make up the Forbidden City. I couldn't quite believe the numbers. Even with all these people, Si and I managed to find quiet areas to get some photos. Not sure why everyone else was bunched together and following the crowed even though this place was huge with plenty of space elsewhere. It just went on and on and on. We wandered around for at least 3 hours and still didn't see it all. It was huge! Pretty special though, even though it seemed quite newly renovated. Prefer to see things in their naturally state, but at least its being looked after.
We had walked from one side to the other, and went out through the exit. But had to walk back around the outside. This still took quite a long time. We reached the beginning and saw the square – on the other side of the road – then headed back on the tube.
After lunch we decided to check out a trendy art district, called 798. Found out the local bus number and managed to get it quite easily. Had the number of stops which we counted then got off and walked about 5 minutes – hoping it was in the right direction. It was, as soon we were amongst such a cool area
Back onto the bus, and my fault, I presumed it'd be the same number of stops on the way back, but we got off about 1 mile to early – so had to walk a long way. Popped into the shopping area again just for one last look around, then went back to the hostel and had a massive burger! They had a BBQ on, with loads of yummy food – but the burger was just so huge!