Well, we made it to Beijing with no more issue than the usual screaming children on the plane and half an hour on the runway. It took a while to get through customs simply due to the number of people, we didn’t have any issues. By the time we made it to the hotel it was 7pm, neither of us had much sleep on the plane so we bought some instant noodles, and went to bed.
I must say that our first night’s accomodation was much more luxurious than we were expecting. With a western style toilet and even shampoo and body wash provided. We are staying at the Chongwengmen hotel for the duration of our time in Beijing. I got a full 11 hours of sleep on the slightly hard beds and my husband slept even longer.
We had a fairly relaxed morning exploring the area around our hotel, finding a familiar but very different looking poster next to what looks like it might be a play about Chairman Mao as well as a humungous bouqet of flowers. We got ourselves a chinese sim card from China Unicom, we got 30 GB and a some minutes for 400 yuan which is about £50 and my husband’s VPN works, so we are connected, horay!
In the afternoon we decided to check out the Drum Tower which I had read a review on Lonely Planet and fancied checking out. We took the subway, which althought crouded seemed very orderly and was actually nicely air conditioned. When we got to the Drum Tower we found out it was actually closed, but Beihai park was very pretty and there were lots of areas to explore. We even came accross some people doing some kind of photo shoot in traditional costume.
We suddenly heard the “Match Of The Day” tune amongst the scerene landscape, so we followed it and came accross a pavilion which was over the water of one of the lakes in the park. There were people doing swing dancing in the pavilion to the tune, it was slightly surreal, and only got stranger when we were walking back later and saw them dancing to “Boom Boom Boom Boom!” which was a blast from the 90s.
We continued to wander for a little bit and then a storm hit, with full on thunder and lightning. We saught shelter in one of the other pavillions with some locals. There was something quite special about sitting there watching it pour down over the lake.
We eventually made it back to the hotel in time to meet our group for the Essential China tour. We had a breifing and then our guide took us our for dinner, where we tried real peking duck!
So far I am having an amazing time in China although, somehow it is not what I was expecting, I am not sure how, but it is. Also it is very hot!!!!
We went to The Great Wall today, but I will cover that in a different post.
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