There arent 9 million bicyles in Beijing

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
Ti an a men Sunrise Hostel

Flag of China  ,
Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Woke with a bit of a headache after too many 30p beers last night made giddy by eating out and cheap beer I think we have been due a few drinks.

Set off on a direct route from the hostel to try and find Tiananamen square and found ourselves wandering the back allies which were simply beautiful and peaceful. We happened upon the Working Peoples Cultural Palace (although we had no idea where we were or what it was) we paid 20p to get in and had a lovely relaxing stroll around the palace.

We then found an exit to this park which dropped us right at the main gates for the Forbidden City. We spent a long time wandering around the palace, Tiananmen Square and the other immediate attractions. It was great to see the number of tourists, we are finally back on the tourist trail. 95% of the tourists are however chinese.

The temples and palaces are great as you can see but after a few hours they do become a little bit samish. Entry was about 4 Pound each so took up a major chunk of the budget. We then went to Tingshan park where you could climb a big hill and get a view over all the city, and the temples we had been looking at. The view was incredible and worth the effort and 20p entrance fee.

The most bizarre things were the airport style security to get into Tiananamen Square and the amount of CCTV on the square. Otherwise we have been suprised by the openness and accessibility of the place but perhaps most of all the people. Everyone is so friendly (unlike Russia and the City based Mongers). Whilst a few people want to 'take you to a tea shop' (biggest scam here) most generally want to talk to you about where you are from, why you are here, how long for and want to help you and give you advice. At dinnertime for example the man on the next table wanted to chink glasses say cheers in chinese then force us to eat his dinner with him. (Dont worry mum it wasnt drugged as he was eating of the same plate as were his two friends). We had no language in common but I think he thought we were eating peasant food. Any yes food.....

For Lunch we went to the famous Quan Jude Roast Duck Restaraunt for lunch. We knew it was going to blow the budget but for any boy that will walk through church at 6 years old holding a sign of his favourite food being Crispy Duck, when the rest of 70's born northerners were holding up chips, fishfingers etc missing this was not an option. We ordered half a duck for 10 pound between the two of us. A whole duck was brought over to the table and a man with mask calved in front of us. Not shredded as we have it but finely sliced by a real craftsman. We started being served the skin of the duck and a bowl of sugar to dip it in. This was delicious and something we have never heard of before. We then ate a plate of sliced duck with pancakes etc. All the chinese people appeared to make pancakes fill them and eat them without touching the pancake or anything with their hands, using only chopsticks. The big difference is they are hung roasted not oven roasted. I'm not sure what happened to the rest of the half duck because we certainly didnt have a whole half (I suspect thats fine dining for you). The meal culminated in me being served the ducks head on a seperate plate. I'm just not practiced at eating duck heads as the woman found it hilarious with me  trying to crunch through the skull. Anyway it was far too expensive and blew the entire days budget.

For dinner we went to a restarant and took rather safe and boring options, we ordered far too much and with the food from the man next to us left absolutly stuffed. With beers though it came out at less than 10 pounds. We need to get back to spending about 1 pound a day on food but it is so difficult now we can eat out in restaraunts and drink for reasonable prices. Of the dishes we passed on today the highlights wer saliva chicken, duck tongues and double fat fish heads.

Back to the hostel and had an early night. We get the feeling the budget will continue to get smashed here. A trip to the wall is about 20 pounds a head and there is just so much we want to see and do. Never mind things like the wall and the duck are just simply not negotiable. We are thinking of doing the wall on Thursday but it is an all day job.

The only other odd things to report is a chinese obsession with private dining. Most restataraunts have privite dining rooms round the outside where you have a waitress stood outside the door but otherwise you are in a little private room. Oh yes the Chinese are also obsessed with Karaoke so Eggsy is going to give us a song one day this week.

Erica edit:  Forget David Beckham, dont you think Andrew resembles Uncle Philip?

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Dexter Nicholson on

Beijing is known for so many fantastic attractions that you might not even be able to finish touring them in a week. You shouldn't missed visiting the Forbidden City, Great Wall, Tiananmen Square and more.

Alex on

you paid 10 pound for duck where you would pay 50 or 60 for it back home? Come on, it's beijing duck! Anyways, at least you tried it..

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