Second day in Beijing, Dorian’s arrival

11 02 2010

Since our dorm room wasn’t exactly a sauna with the open door and all, it was a fairly fitful sleep for me (and maybe Missy too – Theresa was zonked out after flying for 13 hours). Dorian’s flight was scheduled to get in at 5:30 am, so we weren’t sure when to expect him; after we flew into Beijing, it took somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 minutes to get to our hostel. Anyway, he ended up calling somewhere around 8 or 9, so after everyone was up and ready, we walked through the hutong to the metro, stopping at a pastry shop for some unidentified breakfast on the way. We took the metro to Tian’anmen Square, which is as big as you would expect the world’s largest square to be. When we got there, we underwent the first of what would end up being a few instances of Chinese people asking to get their pictures taken with us. We still had a little bit of time left before lunch, so we dumped our bags off at a bag-check station and headed over to Mao’s mausoleum (you can’t take bags in there) to view his body. Mao is orange. I think part of it is the lighting, but I suppose he looks as good as someone who’s been dead 34 years can. After seeing that, we decided it was lunch time, so after a typical Chinese tourist diner, we headed across the square to the Forbidden City. Which is huge. They offer tour guides in 40 different languages, including Esperanto, and we had a tour guide wannabe proposition us in about four different languages. I’m not sure what else to report on the Forbidden City which isn’t better described by photo. It’s big. After a bit more walking around, we headed back to the hostel, relaxed a bit, then went across the street for some slightly different hotpot than we’re used to. Not sure if you know what hotpot is, but if you don’t, it’s a style of dining where you get a big bowl of boiling water with some spices or vegetables, in which you cook a variety of different things. This particular restaurant had a hot stone in the middle of the pot, which made it a little tricky to navigate. Also, the menu was in Chinese, which means with my poor Chinese reading skills, we were able to get only the most basic stuff to add to our meal. It was OK.
One more thing we accomplished on this day: Buying tickets to see the Great Wall the next day.
More later.
-Jeremiah

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