Welcome to Beijing!!!
Trip Start Sep 03, 2011
54Trip End Jun 04, 2012
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Accomodation: We are in another hostel but we have a double room with an ensuite and the kids are sharing a 3 bed room with ensuite. Though it is hilarious the ensuite is a frosted glass partition. So we have put up a make-shift "lavalava" curtain in front of the shower for the kids and they all look the other way if someone needs to go to the toilet. But they are managing and havn't voiced any dissatisfaction or issues. We are surrounded by traditional Chinese addon dwellings. "The Qianmen Hostel is in the heart of Old Beijing's traditional hutongs and small lanes. The hostel's three two-story buildings date back to 1850, featuring traditional inner open-air courtyards and wood-carved balconies." So it is in a characteristic setting though we did not get an old room (the guy at the desk claimed we got the best rooms so we are not arguing). We are just a five-minute walk from Tiananmen Square and is near many important cultural and historical attractions such as the Forbidden City, Chairman Mao Mausoleum and the Great Hall of the People. Everything else is accessible by foot or subway. We will have to book transport to see the Great wall though. We will probably do that on Monday.
The food here is reasonably priced and we usually eat at restaurants frequented by the locals with menus with pictues and prices. We haven't been able to find the food markets yet. Our first night we tried the duck at a reputable Duck restaurant but once again we had ordered too much and by the time the duck came out we were STUFFED!!! but they make the most delicious eggplant dishes, even Samuel is serving the eggplant first onto his plate. But Campbell and I enjoyed the duck, the others found it a bit oily and rich. We usually order a dish each and a bowl of rice and then share the dishes but our western eyes are too big for our tummies, as we have realised that 2-3 dishes with rice is probably sufficient. The kids have managed to master chop sticks. Andrew and I are still struggling but we are managing to get food into our mouths.
Yesterday Andrew and I found the Temple of Heaven and the kids navigated themselves around, dropping off Campbell's film to be developed (he found an old Seagull Camera that takes 35mm film in Shanghai), then they found a boat to hire and take out on the water somewhere and found a food seller selling a Beijing version of a burger which was apparently delicious. The Temple of Heaven was another Buddhist temple enclosure that housed buildings for worship and the use of Royalty at the time. Like all ancient cultures and civilisations, it is just a wonder how they produce such huge and fine work with the technology at the time. The surrounding park area was patronised by locals dancing, playing instruments, tai chi, walking families, adult children taking out their elderly parents and tourists snapping up photos. It was a nice atmoshphere to be part of.
Later on that afternoon I went off by myself to sit opposite Tianamen Square to read (Northanger Abbey, yes I know it is not very Chinese) and listen to my ipod shuffle. I ended up trying to have a conversation with an ice-block seller who was dodging the police during their walk by in the area, she was so cute. Well she offered me a little mini persimmon/guava and now I am at the hostel suffering from diahorrea and self medicating and resting. We think that was it because we all had the same dinner and I am the only one sick. So the rest of the family set off this morning to try and view where Mao's body is being held in the Cultural Hall we think at Tianamen square and then they were off to see the Forbidden City which was the next block up. Because we are so close I think that I wil go up in the next few days and take a look at the Forbidden city. So I have been updating this and researching the areas where I think my Chinese grandfather is from. We weren't able to manage to go down South this trip (which is where we believe the Chinese that went to Samoa were from), so it is something Andrew and I will have to come back to do. I have been trying to also find where the Samoan Embassy is here so I can see if they have any starting points for research, but they have just only recently opened so I may have to go up to the Embassy precinct and see if I can spot them.
As per usual the photos are pending.
Take care guys. xx