Break 4 & Train Journey 5 – Beijing and Train to Shanghai

Day 18:
03.11.2009 (Tuesday)

As this is Dav’s first time in Beijing and my third time, I let him make the decision of where to go and what to do. We set off by walking around the hutong to have breakfast. We tried a few Chinese food bought from the stall and ate while we walked towards Tiananmen Square.

I noticed from our walk, the city has changed alot since my last visit, 2 years ago. The roads now are very big (6 lanes) and there’s lots of traffic. The most odd is every 500 meter there’s public toilets. Then when we reached the square, I was shocked. This is because the square is fenced up, with dedicated entry points where visitor and their bags have to be scanned. There was also a lot of local tourist, probably from other parts of China. We noticed decoration in the square from the 60th Anniversary celebration is still there.

From the square, the whole crowd slowly move towards the Forbidden City (now named Palace Museum). As we moved into the area, we encountered more people. Surprisingly Dav didn’t quite enjoy the sight seeing. So we quickly went through the main highlights and got out of there.

By then, it was already late afternoon, so we walked to Wangfujing Street in search for food. This street is a pedestrian shopping street but it was quite boring. We wanted to try pork burger in McDonalds but they didnt have it. So after lunch it was more walking until we were tired.

From the guide map, we found a street full of bar (Sanlitun Street) but it was quite a distance from Wangfujing Street. So we took a taxi there. It turns out I went to the bar street before when I was on holiday with my colleague while working in Korea. We went clubbing at that time and I remember the road was still under construction. But now the whole area is developed. We decided to take a rest and found a Japanese restaurant to try some sashimi.

After that we headed back to the hostel and had hot pot for dinner. You can’t leave Beijing without trying the hot pot!


Day 19:
04.11.2009 (Wednesday)

Today’s itinerary is more exciting for me as we’ll be visiting places I’ve never been before. First thing of course must be breakfast. Again we walked around the hutong but different direction and we found a wet market. Naturally Dav got excited (you should be able to tell that Dav love to go to markets by now). We tried some sort of a pancake bought from the market and had dumpling soup as well with yau char kwai. It was a full breakfast. So yummy!

With our stomach full, we started walking towards the Beihai lake. We were told that the area surrounding the lake is still well preserved with old Beijing houses. We walked around the lake and saw a group of senior citizens gathering to dance, comparing birds and learning chinese swords. Quite a pretty site.

Next stop, we went to the Beijing Zoo because we wanted to see the panda. It was quite cheap to enter the zoo but you have to pay extra to see the pandas. We were quite excited to see so many pandas in the zoo. The zoo compound is quite huge, so we selective of the animals we wanted to see, like the foxes and white tigers. There was also a huge aquarium on site. But again we have to pay extra to enter. Almost 10 times the zoo entrance fees!! So we decided not to enter.

After the zoo, we headed to the Beijing Olympic Park to see the National Stadium (aka Bird Nest). Quite an impressive stadium. The National Aquatic Centre is also just opposite the bird nest. Luckily there was metro station in the park, if not we will probably not make a trip to the park seeing there’s only stadiums all around the park.

Following the guide book’s recommendation, we went and check out the Friendship Store. It was quite a disappointing and boring visit. The store is supposedly the largest store in China catering to foreigners selling lots of Chinese souvenirs. The store is huge BUT empty. We were probably the only visitor in the store that afternoon.

Once we have completed what we planned to see, we headed back to the hostel to take our backpacks and head to the railway station to catch the train to Shanghai.

For once we didnt have difficulty looking for the correct train station. In the train station, each train has a designated waiting area. In the waiting area, we were conned into buying an expensive cup of tea in exchange for a seat while waiting to board the train. We waited for about an hour before it was time to board the train.

The train we took was very modern and new plus the bed is huge. Also we were given duvet as a blanket. Each bed has it’s own tv and everyone gets an earphone for the tv. We bought a 4 bed berth train ticket so we shared the berth with a Shanghainese couple. They were quite noisy, chatting until late at night and played games on their PSP and laptop, which disturbed my sleep! I had to finally put on my earphones and listen to music while trying to sleep. So annoying!

Click to read on: Shanghai and train to Hong Kong

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