Thumper…

April 1, 2013

Beijing!

Made it to Beijing, off the train for the last time, bringing to an end the epic 6000km train trip from St Petersburg Russia to Beijing China, which started on my blog here. Then to look around. For me it was a repeat visit to Beijing, so no visit to the wall this time. Saw Tienanmen Square again – a couple of extra big screen tvs (like huge – makes our “outdoor big screens” look miniature) – I suspect seeing as the opening ceremony of the London Olympics was on this night, they were having a gathering to watch it. There was certainly something going to happen, we were screened to get into the square (that may be normal now, I don’t know) and plenty people were making their way there.

Tienanmen Square

Tienanmen Square

Our group farewell meal that night was at a restaurant I’d actually been to 6 years ago! I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s tucked away in some side streets not far from the Beijing City Central Youth Hostel where we stayed. The meal was good then, as it was this time, and not a lot had changed in the restaurant. That night, in keeping with capital city tradition on this trip, it absolutely bucketed down as we were leaving the restaurant. We finished up in Macca’s opposite the hostel for coffee and ice cream, which accidentally became a bit of a haunt for us these few days in Beijing.

Farewell Meal

Farewell Meal

Spent the Saturday morning shopping at the silk market – bargain hard with these people who are out to sell fake stuff to westerners at high prices. Don’t be afraid to walk away. Got a few good bargains though – a pair of ski pants for about $38, a few t-shirts and stuff like that. Spent a bit long shopping there, so had to really hurry back as a couple who were in our group were due to catch the plane pretty soon. Helped them pack (read madly squeeze last minute bargains into already overfull packs).

Too much shopping!

Too much shopping!

In the arvo Ev and I went to the temple of heaven and had a quick look there. I know we didn’t get to see it all, but a lot of what we did see was just overgrown gardens (by Chinese standards). Saw some people singing in the park inside. They were actually quite good. That was until they started singing jingle bells. We’d had Jingle Bells played to us on the bus a few days ago (just after crossing into Mongolia), so we’re like what’s with the jingle bells at this time of the year…

Tennis at the temple of heaven

Tennis at the temple of heaven

We went for hot pot that night for tea, a restaurant tucked away in the basement of the shopping center opposite our hostel. It was not as good as the night before, so after that we headed back up stairs to finish with some supper at Macca’s… I was just there to watch the olympics on the tv’s they had there! Actually that was one thing, the Olympics were playing everywhere you went. Train stations, shopping centers, big screens in public places – you were never too far away from the action. There were 3 channels to choose from on free to air tv and they showed sports that we never get to see in Australia, although the commentary and writing on the screen was all in Chinese and just like every other country, they mostly showed their own athletes…

Watching the Olympics at Tian Tan Dong Men Station

Watching the Olympics at Tian Tan Dong Men Station

Found Beijing subway/metro to be much easier to get around on this time round. The Olympics were good for Beijing in that respect – they have made the town much more accessible for non Chinese speaking tourists – English is written underneath in many places, including all of the subway.

Ok, I’ll leave it there, and finish off Beijing and my trip evaluation in the next post!

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