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Goodman's Travels

Beijing China

CHINA | Friday, 18 May 2012 | Views [689]

Friday 11th May - arrive Beijing West station.

Of course the train was on time.

We woke for some unknown reason at 3.00am for a scheduled stop. We didn’t know, but it was Taiyuan, the place we had visited 6 years ago when Zac and Francine were teaching there. Only took a photo and managed to get back to sleep soon thereafter. We were soon into West Beijing after exchanging emails with our Swiss and American friend and having our photo’s taken with Jack and Chan our Chinese travelling companions.

We soon made our way to the subway, lugging our backpacks that had grown with souvenirs. After some confusing with the spelling of our subway station, we finally made it to the Super 8 Hotel/Hostel in Denshikou. It is located down the Shi Jia Hutong, set amidst a lot of domestic dwellings, little businesses and local authorities such as the traffic police, sporting lottery offices and local restaurants. We did our normal thing when arriving at a new location - short rest and a good reconnoitre of the local environs. This time in Beijing we were a bit surprised at the amount of smog. It was some percentage worse than our last visit 5 years ago. Our accommodation proved to be very good. Good and clean, the staff were fine, the travel staff organised a couple of shows for us, the only thing amiss was the wifi and LAN, it was intermittent. Sometimes it worked sometimes it didn’t. They set a new world record - 36hrs to do a 1 ½ kg load of washing.

Saturday 12th May - we decided the first thing to do was to book our seats on the Bullet train to Shanghai on Tuesday morning.


The Beijing Chinglish is notorious but this is ridiculous. This toilet sign is in full veiw at Beijing main Railway Station. It is about two metres high. One of many!

Went to Beijing main railway station, went to the one and only ticket queue that had English speaking people. All went well with the long queue until about when we were 5 from the front, an ignorant Chinaman sidled up to the front of the queue and tried to get in front the five in front of us.

A couple of people shoulder him off. When we got to 3 in front of us, Allan tapped him on the shoulder and told him to piss off. He didn’t but there was no way we were going to let him in. A couple of the other locals gave Allan the thumbs up for telling him where to go. We got our tickets but unfortunately he was able to barge in soon after. Score 1 for the westerners. It was then off to the markets for some of Allan’s favourite past time - bargaining. Bought quite a few things and back to the hotel to prepare ourselves for the evening at the Beijing Acrobat. Our preparation of course included a nanny-nap.

The Beijing Acrobats were absolutely magnificent. They went for an hour and amazed us at their ability to do things we can all only dream of.

Back to the Hutong for a meal. At about 9.00pm we walked down the Hutong to the end of the street and turned right. Found a nice place where a young girl who spoke a little English, helped us order. The food was OK but nothing special.

Sunday 13th May - mothers day.

Allan cooked breakfast - he walked down the Hutong , across the street and bought a couple of what we call ‘egg bread.’ It is a pancake batter spread thinly, then an egg cracked on to and spread thinly. Once partially cooked, it is then turned, the pancake is painted with a mixed of chilli/bbq/tomato/soy sauce, spring onions added, then something that resembles corn chips. It is then folded into 6 and put in a plastic bag.

Sounds great, unfortunately the flavourings were not up to scratch that day. We then went to Wangfujing Street for a look and reminisce on our previous visit. What a disappointment. The food merchants were all rip-off merchants. The food was crap and they charged the earth for it. Allan walking away twice after ordering and being told the price and Wendy did the same after asking for a Mango Juice (a real Mango was sitting there) and she was given Mango cordial. They wanted 10RMB for something that was worth 2RMB. We found a number of instances where they changed the price for the westerner. We told them where to go.

Wangfujing Street.

That night we went to the Red Theatre to see the Story of Kung Fu.

It was a very well done piece of choreography, music, settings, costumes and storyline. We enjoyed it immensely.

Monday 14th May - plan for the day was to do all shopping so we could just enjoy Shanghai when we got there without having to go shopping.

We were on a mission to get Garry (Allan’s brother) a Samsung Galaxy Tablet and an Ipad2 for next to nothing. We had been looking since Chengdu and had no luck. Some people wanted outrageous prices. Up to AU$700 in some cases. Anyway, Allan found a bloke in booth B4035 in Electrical section of a very large electronics market on the north west side of Beijing who was amenable to talk turkey on price. About an hour into the negotiations we talked about usage and converting it to English and making sure it worked before we left his store. It was nearly 2 hours later, after we had established that the Ipad would not work in Australian wifi and the price he wanted was out of the ball park for one that would however they were able to come to an arrangement of AU$380 for a 16gb Samsung Tablet, wifi only that will work worldwide. Anyway, all ended up OK.

This is the salesman Allan spent 2 hours with to get a Samsung Galaxy 10.1" tablet;

It should always be remembered when haggling, they will not sell at a loss or without making money. A case in point is when Allan asked a young lady for the price on a keyboard for the Ipad2. Negotiations started at 680RMB which was written on the box. Negotiations finished at 150RMB. Don’t fall for the trap of thinking 20-30% off is a good deal. The other one was a set of what Allan believed wes a fake Bose on-ear headphones. They wanted 480RMB, got it for 150RMB.

That night we went to the Novotel Peace in Beijing for dinner as part of Mothers Day. We had the banquet. What a disappointment. Very bland French food cooked by Chinese Chefs.

That was Beijing….a great city to visit. One amazing thing that happened whilst we were there - it rained for about half an hour on Sunday evening, on Monday morning, the skies were clear and the place smelled a whole lot better.

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