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Postcards from the Parents.. Time together- museums, culture and food!

Beijing Day 2

CHINA | Friday, 26 October 2012 | Views [265]

We had an excellent go at trying everything at the buffet this morning: pumpkin cakes, cucumber juice and the egg bar! We had been dreaming of the yummy croissants too but learnt a valuable lesson- she who hesitates at the croissant station gets no croissant…


Beth gave me a tutorial in how to say ‘Temple of Heaven’ and our return address. My accent and tones leave a lot to be desired but my phonetics knowledge came in very handy- I could just write out what I needed to say and practice. Armed with my secret language weapon and another coffee, Belinda and I set out in the taxi on our own leaving Beth and Adah to rest.


We arrived safely at the ‘Temple of Heaven’- the largest collection of religious buildings in Beijing, built in 1420. We wandered around the complex in the sunshine reading the bits we could, taking photos of the themed rubbish bins and marvelling at the preparations required to request good harvest via the Emperor.


Walking back down the path designed to slope downwards from the temple (the highway to hell perhaps??), we were approached by a group of people who we thought wanted us to take their photo.  As it turned out they wanted a photo with us, so they cycled through and took their turn. As we walked away we wondered what they would do with those photos. Belinda pondered why they would want ‘a photo of two middle aged women.’ I rejoined that she should speak for herself.


Despite Belinda’s best efforts the taxi we caught back to the hotel charged us tourist prices and wouldn’t put the meter on. My newly acquired language skills came in handy as I had to direct the driver to ‘go behind the tower.’ We decided that in future I should do the directing and Belinda the haggling!


Back at the hotel we picked up Beth and Adah and headed to the station to pick up our train tickets. The station would be impossible to negotiate as an English speaker- lucky we had Beth with us. Her ability to switch between languages continued to astound us, and obviously to those here too. A man tried to tell us that we couldn’t be in that ticket line as there was no English. Beth gently set him straight. I was so relieved that this wasn’t the station that we would depart from tonight- it was completely overwhelming. Once again Adah was mobbed by crowds of people- she takes it all in her stride and smiles at everyone.


Beijing duck was on the menu for lunch in a fancy restaurant. Needless to say it was delicious and an amazing experience to have.  We pretty much rolled out the door and back into a taxi and off to pick up a suit ordered from the silk clothing markets. Haggling was the order of the day here and we witnessed a fight between a shopkeeper and a very unhappy customer.  It was hilarious, especially since we were the next customers in line.


Back to the Ascott for the final time- the most accommodating hotel we have all ever stayed in, and we couldn’t have been more troublesome guests. They were most likely overjoyed to see the back of us. Time now to split up- us to the train station and Beth and Adah to the airport. We certainly experienced the full brunt of Beijing peak hour traffic, with a very grumpy driver.


At the station they found the English speaker in the passport & ticket office who kindly directed us to our platform. Beijing West station was so much easier to negotiate than we had hoped which made us feel better about our adventure to come.


Still full from our Beijing duck lunch we got ourselves some snacks, did some bag repacking and had a last minute panic about the toilets. As is turned out the station toilets were probably worse than those on the train. Time to board and we soon found out that it’s best to be the first ones on to bags the little table, get the suitcases down the aisle and set up for the night. Also: note to selves, must get a set of onesie pyjamas, put them on under our clothes then peel off our outer layers and hop into bed as soon as our dinner is finished. That way we’ll fit in much better on the train trip back.


Read magazines on my bottom bunk before Belinda climbed to the top of the triple bunk and lights out at 10pm.


Next stop: Yinchuan

Tags: beijing

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