Since we’re no longer going to Xi’an and it’s poxy porcelain army*, we needed somewhere to stay tonight in Beijing. Our room in the hostel was full, we had to move. 7 metres. This morning we made an epic journey across the courtyard and are now living in the lap of luxury! A twin room, and en-suite. We’re chuffed. But just for the night, as tomorrow we’re properly moving to a cheaper place elsewhere in the city.
Today we became experts at the train system (see the soon-to-be-in-print Butler Guide to Transport), attempted geocaching, saw Tianamen Square up close, and I nearly lost my wallet. We’re professionals at this travelling malarky, I swear!
Geocaching is hard when you don’t want to look like a spy and there are people about. Our first attempt today was thwarted by an elderly dog walker who seemed determined to defend the target lamppost from revealing any secrets. We attempted to find various activities that would permit us to stand by said lamppost and find the cache, but I ran out of things to throw in the bin, and the man looked ever more suspiciously. Another day! The National Centre for Performing Arts looks fun from the outside though. When she becomes emperor, Laura’s going see it replaces the Millennium Dome.
Tianamen is a colossal set of paving slabs (440,000 square metres), filled with security cameras, lampposts with security cameras, police (some secret, although who knows, since they’re invisible), a monument and flag, two huge tv screens (the world cup would have been immense, except I think they’re probably just used for state information), and no benches or wildlife of any kind. Well, there were a few thousand people, but certainly nothing ferrel. We watched some soldiers goose-step precisely and take down a flag, and then march on back. The Grand Old Duke of York comes to mind…
I nearly managed to truly cast aside capitalism today and lose my wallet. Those that know me will realise that this will not be the last such occasion! Fortunately this attempt was unsuccessful – a diligent cashier at our lunch place had spotted it and kept it aside, and Laura did a brilliant job at preventing panic from taking hold.
Oh yes, and after being thrown out of Tianamen by the police (it was mutual, we all wanted to go home), we scrambled to another street food street (well, it wasn’t a road) for meat-on-a-stick and other delights. Cue more crazy insect pointing (only this time they were still wiggling on the sticks) – and our first ‘we’ve been ripped off’ altercation with a local. Our 10 minute protest successfully prevented him from getting other customers, but unfortunately didn’t net us our money back. A shocking £3! Which in the scheme of things isn’t really the end of anything, let alone the world. We’ll hold off summoning the ambassador for now.
However, Laura’s now delegated all street food purchasing to me, so she’ll be the one trying all manner of daring delights from now on! We’ll have to see about that!
Photos to follow soon.
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*may be incorrect.