Beijing Baby! Wow!
Trip Start Jan 31, 2011
298Trip End Dec 15, 2011
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Where I stayed
Rolling along through the China lands, it is all brown and dry looking. There is a huge mountain range as I look out of both sides of the train. With brown grass and short bare trees between us and them. The mountain range is very impressive with traces of snow still in some of the deep grooves of the slopes. This is definitely a different country I've woken up to compared with Mongolia as the country stands today (considering that Mongolia used to stretch all the way to Beijing and a shed load of Russia too! Impressive campaign that Ghengis khan led to take over the world!)
I walked down to find the restaurant car and the others. It was 2 cars down from ours. I think it's now 8. I wouldn't mind but everytime you exit a car there are 2 doors, so effectively you have to open and close 4 doors when you walk anywhere, and now being 8 carriages down, that's a lot of doors!
People smoke between the 2 doors as well, so at one point I walked through one with 5 girls standing smoking and there was already a suffocating amount of smoke in there. I hurried quickly through that one!
I found the others and they had ordered some food which looked really good in fact but I'd forgotten my money and wasn't going to pop back for it. They asked if I'd seen the Great Wall, I hadn't, I missed it.
Everything seems so shabby. There are so many buildings we pass with all the windows smashed out and old looking bricks. But even some of the inhabited buildings have old looking bricks but have red decor around and on the door. There are also red flags all over the place. I can't quite tell if they are even the Chinese flag (although are hundreds of those around!) but just little red ones. Nope, there definitely just little red ones over everything.
We've passed coal mines, and quarries and also plastic covered greenhouse type things with hay or straw on top where I think they are making mats. There have been big housing blocks like council flats, and little one floor brick houses in dirty dusty streets (no road or anything, don't be imaging coronation street, imagine farmyard outbuildings!)
We just stopped at Zhangzhiakon which is a pretty large place and has some impressive shiny new buildings that I can see in the city but along the railtrack are still the massive contrast of the shabby houses. It's really quite surreal.
12:51 We're travelling through the mountains now. They're just incredible. We're in a deep valley, following the path of a river, which is mostly frozen, with high brown rocky mountains either side, were often travelling through tunnels and everytime we emerge I want to take more pictures! I will have to resist I think!
Meanwhile, as this massive scenery trundles past the window, I was feeling a little peckish so did the 5 min, 32 door open/close marathon down to the restaurant car where Steve had remained since my last visit.
I was once again greeted by the hostess (who I didn't mention earlier as I didn't have much interaction with her).
She asked if I wanted food (also using the international gesture of miming eating) and I said yes. Th conversation then went something like this (bear in mind she is shouting a bit and like gesticulating)
H: You wan fud?
H: you wan powga? Powga?
Z: I want lunch
H: NO! No lanch!
Z: sorry? You just asked if I wanted lunch
H: NO! Lanch feenis! You wan powga?...powga?
Z: what's powga? I don't understand?
H: you wan powga? POWGA
Z: ok I want powga
(hostess goes into kitchen where clearly food is out and speaks to chef)
Z: hang on, what's this? I want lunch?
H: NO! LUNCH FINIS!
Z: I'm confused, there's food in there how can lunch be finished?
H: lanch finis
Z: ok, so lunch finished, right (I walk towards steve to sit down, she pursues me)
H: you wan powga?
Z: I don't understand what you're saying!
Group behind me: do you want pork? Lunch finished at 12.
Z: oh right, oh I see she's asking if I want what's left? Ok yes I want pork, thankyou.
Hostess then asked me something else which was apparently do I want juice?
I asked for coke.
Lunch trauma sorted. I had pork with green peppers and onions in a sauce, no rice because after all "Lanch finis!"
I was quite nice if not an effort to acquire!
13:43 Just had a shot of vodka, with caviar on bread. the other bottle has been cracked open but they just said they nearly didn't because were nearly out of gherkins! NEVER have I heard someone say they nearly didn't open the vodka because were running out of gherkins!!! (note it's 1.45pm and were having vodka shots!!!!)
I pronounced that vodka doesn't taste very good and Rishi said "I'm not in it for the taste". Sensible lad!
A note on my spelling and grammar.... I do most of this blogging on my iPhone before posting and as such it's easy to miss letters off and also predictive text changing words as well as the insertion of commas and apostrophes disturbs my flow of text. So you'll have to forgive those errors. If I make this blog into a book then I'll correct everything!
17:00 Beijing train station was so busy! There were hundreds of people outside it.
We found our guide and went to the hostel. We've arrived at the jade garden hostel, and each have our own room. Shower time at last! Caught up with some emails and had a nice email from a random person who found me somehow, and is just behind me on my trip. You never know, we may meet.
Were on our way now to Tiannemen square with our guide Chan Jon Ji, who calls himself David for his English name. We'll take the bus to the square. It's 1Y to go anywhere. That's 10p!!!
18:58 When we got to Tianemen square we inadvertently happened to have arrived in time for the lowering of the flag ceremony. A bunch of soldiers march out of the forbidden city first to push back the crowds,
After that we went for a little walk past the square and found the bus to take us back to the hostel but where there is a good restaurant. Our hostel is actually right next o the forbidden city! Brilliant!
We've come to restaurant quite famous with locals. Picked some familiar dishes, like beef in mushrooms and sweet and sour ribs, even some prawns and peking duck, however were also getting bullfrog!!
I've taken some pictures of some of the mistranslations and will have a dedicated entry just for that!
The meal was very tasty, even the bullfrog was ok, it was just very bony and had a lot chilli on it than I really like.
Eating here seems a good excuse to eat in a way that defies all table manners and would have my dad shouting at me. Eg.
Rice from a bowl may be brought up to the face and shovelled into the mouth with chopsticks.
Soup may be slurped and also as well as the spoon, also hold the bowl to face and drink directly.
When trying to eat spare ribs or prawns, pick it up with chopsticks, try to eat but by all means move your face to within 2 inches of your plate and allow to fall out of mouth or whatever you need to help manoeuvring.
Spit out bones, shrimp shell and gristle freely.
Reach across the table with chopsticks to pick at any food you want.
Don't tip the staff.
(be warned...toilets are squat toilets! Don't forget you loo roll! There never is any!)
After a fantastic dinner we took the short walk back to the hostel and chilled out a bit.
Early start for the wall so early bed for me.