Day 14: Exploring Beijing (August 7th)
Photos to come later.
A knock at the door at 7:40am by my brother woke Kim and I. I was still quite tired from staying up a bit late last night writing. Planned for the day was a trip to Tiananmen Square, seeing Chairman Mao (apparently his body have been preserved through some technology I don’t really understand) and going to see the Forbidden City Museum. As it often happens with traveling things didn’t quite go as planned. While we were able to walk around Tiananmen Square it was so incredibly crowded it lost some of the magic I was expecting. It was still cool stand in the square though. It’s quite enormous. Plans to see Mao quickly fell through though when we realized the line was perhaps the longest line I’ve ever seen in my life. There is a small chance I’ll try again on Thursday or another time, but it doesn’t seem likely.
Leaving Tiananmen Square we made our way to the Forbidden City. We were able to walk around a bit and see went into one building with some pretty cool bells. Tickets to the museum were sold out for the day though. I wasn’t t heartbroken since I’m not a huge museum fan. We talked about trying to go again another day, but I don’t think any of care enough about seeing it to go.
Having not eaten anything at all yet besides a couple of snacks we were all feeling pretty hungry. We took a short subway ride to shopping area and found a place inside with air airconditioning. The staff sees very rushed and distracted. We ordered a few dishes to share which were fine but nothing special.
After eating Jamie opted to go get a haircut and go back to the hotel while the four of us were keen to go see some more things. We started with the nearby Wangfuing Paleolithic Museum. A museum hardly seems like a fair name though since it was so incredibly small (I’m talking like 2 or 3 rooms) without much to see. Thankfully it was only $2 per person and my brother paid, haha. With that museum only taking a short time we decided we should probably go do something else.
We looked at the subway map and decided we’d go to the Summer Palace. We ended up going in through the west gate (which is a bit further) and it worked out quite well since there was a lot less tourist when we went in. The Summer Palace grounds are HUGE. You could probably spend all day there and not see it all. Exploring it was quite nice though and we took a small boat across Kunming Lake through lilypads which were quite pretty. We also wandered through a number of temples on the grounds, but I must confess I think I was experiencing temple overload since we’ve seen a lot on this trip now. The Tower of Buddhist Incense was pretty nice though and once we made it to the top we had a great view of the Summer Palace grounds on one side and Beijing city on the other. It was probably the highlight of Beijing so far.
Around 6:30pm we made it back to the hotel already for a much-needed break. Resting in our room Jamie, Kim and I talked about possibly trying to change our flights to an earlier time. Jamie confirmed it wouldn’t be possible for him and it didn’t look likely for Kim and I. After resting for a bit organized our plans with the hotel to go see the Great Wall of China early tomorrow morning. The part that we are going to see is supposed to be more scenic and less touristy so we’ll see what that looks like by Chinese standards.
Feeling a bit better after the rest and with our plan for tomorrow figured out we decided to go out and get some dinner before going to explore the night market nearby our place. Figuring out what to do for dinner let to so conflict since there was a split between us in how to deciding where to eat. Jamie and one of my brothers seemed to want to wander the streets looking for something appetizing and from my perspective weren’t being very patient or open to hearing any suggestions about other approaches. Speaking for myself (and I think Kim) we prefer taking a few moments to look up a place or two that have good reviews and can accommodate everyone. Dave was, of course, his typical flexible/laid back self. He’s easy to please when it comes to food. After walking for a bit and continuously feeling like I was being ignored as I tried to suggest looking up a place Kim spoke up saying that I’d found a vegan place about 10 minutes away. I tried to show the place to the others to get their thoughts and opinions, but no one seemed willing to take a couple of minutes to look it over to see if it was appropriate or not. My one brother refused to look at my phone to help with directions, said some unnecessarily mean things to me and was, in my opinion, being quite rude about things. So, with next to no information except that it served vegan food we made our way to the Kings Joy. When we got there it was clear the place was quite fancy (the kind of place Talaal and Yasmeen would really liked I think) and one quick look at the menu (it was 1300 Yuan/250 dollars for a fixed price) made it clear it was out of our budget. Frustrated that this could have been avoided if others were willing to spend a minute or two looking things over I gave up on looking for food options. Jamie then led us a short distance away (a couple minutes walk) to an area with some more restaurants and we luckily stumbled upon “The Veggie Table”. It had quite a variety of different food types and the vast majority of the options were vegan. I ended up going with a chocolate peanut butter smoothie and a yummy curry with rice. I’m not sure how satisfied the others were with their meals, but I hope they enjoyed them.
After dinner Kim, David and I were feeling tired and decided we’d save the night market for tomorrow while Jamie and one of my other brothers went out for a short bit. Once we got back to the hotel rooms we moved some stuff between the rooms because we were playing music beds a bit tonight so that we all take turns sharing the bed with someone else. Kim and I were set to share the bigger bed tonight. Before bed, in our rooms, Dave and I tried to crunch some numbers to see how much more Yuan we’d need to take out of the bank so we don’t have a ton leftover afterward. Dave and I discussed also the possibility of him leaving early of he wanted to look into it as an option. He did a bit of preliminary research into it, but by the time I’d shower he had pretty much fallen asleep. While Kim and Dave slept I got caught up on a bit of writing before heading to bed around 11pm.