Saturday, August 29, 2009

China Family Trip - Beijing Day 2

Since no uploading of photos is allowed in China now, even through a VPN, I'll just keep going with text posts and upload pictures when I get to Hong Kong or back home.


The plan today was to visit Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City. Since we don’t get breakfast along with our room, we went to a small street behind our hotel and had some local food. We got bowls of soybean milk, mung bean porridge, some fried dough, and some steamed buns for ~¥20. We also got some weird egg pancake thing that has fried pork rinds in it. Yum… not. Anyway, we got on the subway near our hotel and soon found out that most of the stations near Tiananmen Square were closed due to rehearsal for the 60th PRC anniversary. Since it appeared that the entire square was closed off, we decided to go with tomorrow’s itinerary and go to the Temple of Heaven first. However, we were already in the subway traffic mess and got stuck on a very busy line 1. It was really like those pictures you see of Tokyo subways; we had to push our way into the train and it was so packed that you didn't need to hold on to the handrails. Lines 1 and 2 are the old Beijing subway lines so I don’t think the train had air conditioning. When the door opened, we could feel a blast of hot stinky air blowing out of the car. Anyway, the train stopped several times along the way and we were stuck on the train of horror for about 15 minutes.

The Temple of Heaven park was very crowded. I was here 11 years ago and there weren’t a lot of people. We walked around for about 2 hours and took lots of pictures (which I can't post right now).

Next on the itinerary was the Olympic Park. By now we were tired of the subway even though it was cheap so we took two cabs. Since the city center was closed, the cab driver was asking me how to get to the Olympic Park. I ended up telling him to follow the other cab. He pulled alongside the other cab and had an argument about how to get there. It didn’t matter that much in the end since the lead cab (dad, sister, and Rebecca) drove fast and ditched us (me, my mom, and Shundi). Luckily my dad saw our cab drive by where they got off and we were able to meet up.

Last September, I was in Beijing with Newsong NOC and we went to a Paralympic event. Since then, not much has happened here in the Olympic Park but a lot of tourists still come here. My sister and Rebecca got ticket (¥50) to go inside the stadium while the rest of us waited outside. After walking around some more, we decided to call it a day and skip the Summer Palace. We split up to go back to the hotel with me, my sister, and Rebecca taking the subway, while the rest of them took a taxi back to the hotel.

After taking a short nap, we went to dinner at Bellagio, a Taiwanese cafe that I went to last year. The food was pretty good and we got the huge shaved ice dessert after dinner. The entire bill was about ¥400. Last night while walking around Wangfujing, we saw the entrance to the night market but it was closed due to "cleaning" or something. Since all the foreign journalists did a story here for the Olympics last year, we had to check it out. After dinner, we took a cab directly to the night market (or close since the area was closed to pedestrians) and walked around for awhile. Like all night markets in China, it was loud and noisy and dirty; I can't imagine what the placed looked like before they "cleaned" it. Unlike other night markets though, there were the freaky insect on a stick vendors. This was the fried scorpion stories we all saw on TV last year though I didn't see anyone eating that stuff. Somewhere in the market I caught a whiff of raw squid/cuttlefish and almost threw up. Maybe that triggered something and I started feeling sick (stomach). I think my parents weren't feeling well either so we ditched my sister and Rebecca and walked quickly back to the hotel.

During one of the taxi rides, I asked the driver about the anniversary rehearsals. Supposedly they're done this morning at 2am so Tiananmen Square should be open tomorrow. The downside is that it will probably receive twice the number of visitors today. Oh well... nothing ever happens according to plan in China anyway.

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