Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Beijing Day 1...or the day I wandered around lost

Our hostel
Well, I finally had my trip to China last week! A friend from elementary school, Anna, is teaching in Zhengzhou and we decided to meet up since we are both in Asia. We met in Beijing on Sunday. She came by train and I came by plane, so I had to make my way to the hostel on my own. I booked our hostel and they sent me a map, which was helpful.

The map looked very clear. It said to take exit C, Tiananmen Square was across the street and I would turn left, walk down the road a bit and see McDonalds, then turn right.

Unfortunately, the map did not show that there were 4 smaller streets before the street with the hostel was on. Also, I didn't realize that they had underground passageways instead of crosswalks.

So, I wandered around feeling stressed. I couldn't find anyone who spoke English to help me find the hostel. I decided to try a hotel that was on the corner, assuming they might be able to speak English.

They did not.

They did, however, assume I spoke fluent Chinese. Obviously I didn't.

They were able to convey that it was 4 streets down.

I walked for quite a while, continuing to feel stressed, not the one to two minutes I thought it would be, then asked someone again who pointed to the next street. I finally found it and was very relieved. I got to the hotel about 12 PM and Anna wasn't arriving until 3, so I decided to walk around a bit before she got there and get my bearings.

The world is a lot friendlier place when you aren't lost. The weather was great.

The McDonalds near our hostel.
The architecture is beautiful and everything was intricately painted, which is nice. I'd always heard that China was really dirty, but Beijing wasn't too bad. (Zhengzhou is another story).

They have these streets called Hutongs, which are pretty cool looking with shopping.
Our hostel was just down the street from Tiananmen Square and these cool looking buildings.

The public toilets looked like this. Almost all the toilets in China are squatting toilets, but luckily I was able to find western toilets all but one time.

The streets had huge bike lanes, which were also for motorized scooters and tuk tuks and carts.

I tried to get across the street to Tiananmen Square, but there was a guard preventing anyone from crossing the street.

There was not a guard on the other side, so people were just sprinting around running across the street and no one understood why we couldn't cross. I figured it out later. They make you go through the underground passageway so they can x-ray all your bags.

I headed back and met Anna at the hostel.

While waiting for her, I accidentally walked into a hallway that was under construction instead of walking to the front desk of the hostel.

I glanced inside a room and immediately saw a blog stained mattress.

I thought, "Oh great, I've entered the Bates Motel."

Upon closer inspection, it was a bed frame that was being re-stained. There was no blood to be seen.

Anna joined soon after and we decided to wander around. We went to Tiananmen Square first.

We were a bit hungry and bought these strawberries, which were dipped in some sort of sugar. The were ridiculously delicious, though extremely unhealthy.
We walked around Tiananmen Square for a bit, looking at the different statues and buildings.

Some are rather blatant copies of famous American statues....

There was a heavy military presence there.

The gate of the Forbidden City is right across from Tiananmen Square, with a gigantic picture of Mao hanging on the front. I went to the Forbidden City on Tuesday (I arrived on Sunday).

We then walked around a bit and got dinner

There was a shopping area near our hostel, which had very Chinese shops like H&M and Uniqlo.

We got Peking duck, which if you notice on the menu, specifically says "excluding the head."

We made sure we didn't have the head.

We accidentally ordered more food than we intended.

You wrapped the duck with the sauce and vegetables in these little flour bread/tortilla things.
The sauce, whatever it was, was amazing. A thick soy sauce, perhaps? Who knows but it was delicious.
These green beans were fantastic.
Lotus root.
We walked around a bit more at night, exploring the area by our hostel, which is really beautiful.

They had Christmas lights, of course, since it was the middle of March.

China and Japan seem to have some sort of delay when it comes to removing lights.

If you notice, there's a ghost dragon in the sky. Fitting, since I was in China.

Tiananmen Square at night

The Forbidden City at night.
We walked around a lot that night, which was fantastic. We didn't get lost. I was able to orient myself to the city and the maps pretty quickly once I figured out how it worked and what the area around our hostel was.

The next day, we went to the Great Wall,  which was amazing. I will write about that in my next blog!

1 comment:

  1. Great photos -- your hostel looks so quaint ... the neighborhood surrounding does also. Make me want to go to Beijing!