Oct
8

Beijing

So we arrived safely in Beijing post Trans- Siberian and the first port of call was the shower. Our hostel happened to be right opposite the train station so was pretty good just to roll in and get sorted. The hostel in a new modern building and is like a really budget hotel. Rooms are clean and tidy and showers, although communal aren’t the worst - thank heaven I bought my shower flip flops or would be totally freaking out by now. Hostel also has washing machine, so able to de-mank our clothes and bodies from six days of filth!! First night just took it easy both like spent pennies amd chilled in the bar with a local brew - Tsing Tao…

Day one we decided to get up and have a stroll around - on the map looked like we were right near Tienenan Square and forbidden city so off we went. Turns out map scale is slightly off and was actually about 3 Km away - but pretty good to stretch the legs.

There is currently a Full moon festvial on in Beijing so the place is over run with Chinese tourists. We were the only few white faces amonst the crowds which seemed a little wierd. Also was getting very paranoid as every one was staring at me - firstly I debated do girls here not smoke and then wondered if is it not accepted to be in a skirt??? Then we realised it was just the blonde hair thing.. Felt like a celebrity as every where you went people were asking to have their photos taken with you - strange….

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So anyway made it down to Forbidden city and just as we were approaching the gates some Chinese guy started talking to us. He seeemed very pleasant and was asking all about life and saying how he would love to come to the UK. Continued talking as we were walking along and even had our photo taken with him. Then as we approached the Forbidden City he said we would show us a less public way in to avoid the tourists, so we followed him through the gates. As we were through he suddenly announces that he is an art student and leads us into his studio (which just so happens to be at the gates). Needless to say we were kind of backed into a corner about buying some of his work and ended up with 4 paintings. As lovely as they are we did feel a bit “primed and scammed” into the purchase and vowed not to talk to any more friendly Chinese!!!

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So after feeling alittle stung (40 quid on paintings) decided not to pay the tenna to go into forbidden city and just had a wander around..

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As we were walking, bumped into 2 guys from the train - Seamus and Anya, told them about our scam and decided we’d meet them later for drinks. So continued on our jaunt about the city and came across some pretty interesting sights…

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So went out that night with Seamus & Anya, looking for a duck restaurant which had been recommeded buy our chinese art student. Managed to find the restaurant, but unfortunately was shut (everything seems to close about 9:00). However went to wee restaurant opposite, which was much more authentic and had lessons on the use of chopsticks and Mandarin….Interesting set up and when I went to the loo later in the evening all the women were doing their washing in the toilets - water and soap everywhere.

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Next day took it farly easy and caught up on web site which seemed to take much longer than first anticipated… and had a fairly early night as we were going to the Great wall the next day.

Awoke later than should have done and had “Trevor” are Chinese guide for the day on the phone asking where we were..so had to dress quickly and haul ass!!Got into mini bus with three Sweedish guys, (Dave, Chris & Phillip) and a Canadain guy (never worked out his name). The lady minibus driver was quit possibly the scariest driver evr and at one point managed to get us onto the completely wrong side of the road facing the oncoming traffic - mad !!!!

So the trip started with a visit to 2 Jade factories, where we had to pretend to intially be American then Australian, as apparently the factories have allocated times for each group of foreigners… So had a brief insight into Jade and purchased a dragon braclet for me and a Budda for Al.

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After that it was on to the Ming Tombs, where we were given a brief history into the Ming dynasty etc.

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After a feast of lunch, (Chinese & chips), it was onto the Great wall at Badaling (where we had passed in the train on the way in). Place was mobbed but managed to climb amongst all the others and ascend the steep wall. I only made it to the fourth tower but Al and the Sweeds went up to the sixth - amazing views and mind blowing that they could have built something so big and steep so many years ago. Apparently you are not a true man until you have climbed the wall - so I guess that makes us now, both true men!!!!

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After the wall we were taken to a tea factory where we learnt the finer art of tea drinking. There are three ways to drink your tea - all of which involve a noise of some kind. The first is kissing the tea, second eating the tea and the third is noodle tea (which is where you basically make as much noise as the chinese do sucking up noodles…) An interesting experience but at the end turned into a bit of a hard sales pitch and all felt rather embarrassed that we didn’t want to buy any bloody tea….

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That evening to back to the hostel and had arranged to meet Seamus, Anya, Caroline & Paul. Met up and Seamus & Anya revealed that they had also been scammed into buying a painting and then even worse had been tricked into going to the ost expensive tea house in china where the tea flowed and they were then chargedaround 70 quid….(made for a good story though…)

So all headed off to a restaurant which Paul had found in a guide book and was open beyond 9:00. Restaurant was interesting to say the least and toilet were nothing short of discusting (in China all toilets are squats). However food was fab and Paul was very kind to treat us all to our meals. After went to a local street (big ex pat community) and had a very expensive pint.

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Ended up a pretty late night and subsequently a lazy day the next day. When we did eventually drag our butts out if bed, decided tio check ourt a local market as I felt some retail therapy was in order. Hilarious place, (kind of like Blackbush market inside) loads of people grabbing your arm as you walked through, shouting “Hey Lady you wanna buy a tie/watch/bag etc”. Al bought some trousers, which she intially wanted 200 quid for (got them down to 10) and I bought a couple of skirts (around 3 quid each).

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From there crossed the road to the Temple of Heaven and had a wee stroll about as the sunset- very pretty…

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That evening met up with Seamus, Anya, Tom, Silke & Leon and decide to try out a street near a lake ful of pubs/restaurants. Fab place with loads of tourists and bars - managed to find a Thai restaurant and had a private room where we found 2 pint pitchers of beer and lovely food…

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Saw a load of random Chinese dancing in the street and Alasdair met Fou Man Choo (a stinky little chap who was after anything we would give him).

Me and Fu Man Chu Outside Houhai Street

Needless to say another late night…

Met up with Leon & silke the next day and decided we would go to the summer palace on the out skirts of town. Al and Leon in their wise minds decided we would cycle - however on cloer inspection and with much winging from me decided against it as the man in their hostel said it would take around 2 hours (no chance). Took us about 15 minutes to locate Leon & Silke as their hostel was down some back alley (Hutan) in the middle of nowhere.

Anyway got a taxi there and had a good tour round followed by hiring a pedalo and going around the lake - stuning place and was used by the Imperial family as a holiday retreat to get away form the “hecticness” of the Forbidden city.  

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Saw several dragons along the way and needed a photo with every one…

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Left the Palace after a couple of hours on the eternal mission for food. Had gone back to the ex-pat area in search of some proper food (enough rice alreasy..) Managed to stumble across an Aussie Steak house which was like a mirage in the dessert (was quite apt as well as Silke had just found out that she had been granted an Australian residency visa). Was like heaven - Bud on tap which was served in frozen glasses, chips and cheese and huge steaks. I even had chicken with cheese and bacon - never tasted so good…

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Continued into a dodgy chinese back street restaurant where we sampled a few more authentic beers and then back to the hostel.

So today has been a failry lazy day and has given me the chance to catch up with this log, and some washing and Al has downloaded all the photos. Think we are meeting Leon ad Silke later for some more food - but will just wait and see.

Am just about to go down and book train tickets for Shanghai and we leave tomorrow.

Will keep you posted on our travels when we arrive in Shanghai, until then bye bye…

23 Responses to “Beijing”

hairy said:

just caught up with all your travels sounds amazing! coping admirably with the sanitation and food challenges Mrs Reid! (if in doubt more beer!) look forward to the next instalment. Take care x x

Posted on October 8th, 2006.

Sarah said:

Hello hairy one, good to hear from you - hope life is treating you well !!! Off to Shanghai tomorrow then to Hong Kong - Paul and Pauline have booked fights to Phuket - 24th feb to 14th March - so hope you can join us too…. Take care speak soon
S n A xxxxx

Posted on October 8th, 2006.

Ray said:

Hairy how did you manage to leave a message I didn’t think you did the internet????Hurry up and book ya flight to Phuket ya big fury monster or book a flight down south so I can see ya..
OH HELLO MR & MRS REID…Hope you managed to get to Shanghai without missing the train because you’ve drank too much beer..

Posted on October 9th, 2006.

Sounds like you have had a great time so far. Al please tell me you have pictures of the Mongolian border guards? Sarah avoid the markets and any dodgy looking Chinese art students. Have a great time and will catch up soon on the Reids World Tour.

Posted on October 10th, 2006.

Keri said:

This is brilliant, I’m loving all the stories and photies, it all looks amazing!!!
Things here are grand…I climbed a Munro, i’m officially in training! (about bloody time).
Well….be sure to do the ‘Shag’hai Shuffle…I know you’re both proficient!
Kxxxxx
PS/ My bathroom’s still broken……..don’t laugh Sarah!

Posted on October 11th, 2006.

Iain said:

Any sign of the wedding DVD yet? xx

Posted on October 11th, 2006.

Ben & Babs said:

Just imagine us in Beijing, i know i’m blonde and pretty, but you try having a ginger bird with you! How much finger pointing can you possibly get!

Posted on December 18th, 2006.

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