"It's been raining but sunny now you here"
Trip Start Aug 28, 2004
67Trip End Aug 2005
Beijing City of a 1000 art students (bogus). Once you get over the tourists are fair game the bartering and attempts to rip you off becomes quite fun. Daniel (nice dare we say cool guy we met on our travels) if you're reading this scrolls cost 100 not 300 he he.
You can get good deals by looking lost at railway stations. If someone says they own the guest house you know you're onto a winner and the good one's will never ask you for payment before you have seen the place.
We visited both the Mauseleum of Chairman Mao and and the Forbidden City (complete with it's own StarBucks complete with western prices!!), the amazing home of Emperors of the past now opened up to the public. The huge crowds for Mao's mauseleum was a sight indeed (much more than for Lenin in Moscow) we filed past in double quick time, past his glass cased corpse, which is raised from the freezer every morning. The best bit was the Chinese people shopping in a frenzy for plastic flowers and also Mao Souvenir Tackville, I must say that I (Martin!!) was rather taken by the Mao watches (but Heike said you dare!!).
Anyhow Beijing number One attraction, has to be the Summer Palace on the outskirts magical, open to the public, a wonderful area of greenery and space but still with loads of Chinese tourists, despite all their wonderful hacking, spitting, pushing and shoving techniques and being constantly told not to drop litter as you go round, you could easily spend days here...
The Summer Palace contains beautiful gardens around a huge lake and the palace decorated with pictures from Chinese literature on the outside and full of fantastic furniture on the inside. despite the crowds it was really serene, (see photo's).
our next destination was the Great Wall another place that we would have liked to spend more time milling about, nuff said see the pics of our visit. our last day In Beijing was spent buying Wall Hangings, we had seen other Ink paintings on our travels and after comparing notes of who had paid what with our fellow travellers, we found out just how much people get ripped off and they still think they got a bargain!!! The scam is as we briefly described earlier a young girl will approach you and claim she is an Art Student showing her final Exhibition. So you are expected to go and see something you like, haggle her down to half the asking price and you come away feeling very smug. Unless of course you go to the back streets and see the same paintings and haggle those down to a third of her (Art Student) half price. The Hangings are all copied and hand painted, so they are unique, but they must knock out 1000's
What else did we do? had lovely meals, tried out the famous Peking Duck (overrated and overpriced too!!). Both had our hair washed and cut with a smattering of Manderin and no English!! Martin had his ears cleaned and both head and his back massged for four pounds each, you wouldn't get that at Salon 2!! We then caught an overnight train to Xi'an (see pics).
We arrived in Xi'an at 7am (too early full stop!!). Booked in at the remnin Flats into a very nice double room, cheap as chips and with TV!! Have you ever experienced truly politically correct TV??!