BootsnAll Travel Network


We arrived in Beijing on Sunday afternoon after a rather train ride from UB across the Gobi desert. It was pretty flat and uninteresting most of the way – just the odd camel to relieve the boredom. The highlight of the trip was the border crossing where the bogies are changed because the Mongolian and Chinese trains run on a different gauge track. This took place at around midnight. We didin’t have to get off the train at all, the carriages being raised up and the new bogies slid in underneath. All very hi-tech and operated by guys wearing what appeared to be patent leather dancing shoes.
Beijing is fearfully hot and the pollution is appalling – a thick smog hangs over the place all the time. We explored Tiananmen Square after we had settled into our hostel (Jade International Hostel which is excellent and is very central to all the tourist attractions). The scale is quite overwhelming and it is crowded with thousands of people (the square not the hostel!) We found a good place for dinner. Our criteria are that it doesn’t have tablecloths and is full of Chinese people rather than tourists. We haven’t been isappointed yet and have had some excellent meals which have been very good value for money. On Monday we did the Forbidden City which took all day. Again it is huge, with countless palaces etc. And lots of interesting exhibitions (and some boring ones – two whole buildings full of official stamps). Yesterday we went to the Temple of Heaven where the Emporers used to go to pray for a good harvest. Then we explored the centre of Beijing which is full of huge office blocks and designer shops- very modern. In the evening we went to the Beijing Opera which was an experience and a great spectacle. Today we have been to the Great Wall. We went on a tour in a minibus with a few other people and went to a part of the wall off the tourist beat which wasn’t at all crowded. We hiked about 4 hours along the wall. We walked on a stretch that has not been reconstructed and not many people visit followed by a bit that has been rebuilt which had more people on it, but not that many.
We are venturing out shortly to the night market to get something from the various stalls. We walked down there the other night and they have all sorts of things on sticks, octopus, starfish, millipedes, even seahorses. Enough to make you go veggie!

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