Interesting day today.
Old Chinese insult “May you live in interesting times”. Today we did. The 5 Star Hotel we are booked into was not available early on so we got on with the day’s activities straight from the train. Despite numerous calls the hotel continued to be unready for us, in fact at 7pm, we still had to wait for one room to be made available. Twin rooms turned out to be doubles, all on the same floor turned out to be spread out between 5 floors . Andrew’s chant almost went from “shop-eat-travel-experience” to “shop-eat-travel-experience-maim and slaughter” as the hotel staff did not exactly excel at being helpful 5 star quality staff. But, with a little perseverance and patience from the kids, it all got sorted and we did end up with a bed for the night.
The day itself was a little more relaxing than the evening so let’s talk about that. First stop the Summer Palace. Much more crowded than the last time we visited, but just as beautiful. A lovely wander around this historic site and a short cruise on a Dragon Boat gave us all the fresh air and wake up we needed after 15 hours on the train.
Next stop the Beijing Zoo, time here was a little short so we only focussed on the Panda’s, lovely to see although I think some would have liked to see them a little more active. Turns out they are just like the toy ones you see, pretty, cute and lie around doing nothing most of the day (reminds me of some teenagers I know actually).
Then it was off to a Hutong. A series of traditional village streets and houses. Remnants from a past time where traditional multi generation families still live in a single set of rooms. Interestingly we were told that the land here, being central city is valued at around $30,000 per square metre an some of the families have sold up to move to nearby tenement buildings where they have far more space and money in the bank. Those that remain use tourism to boost their income. Part of which involves bicycle rickshaws which we used to tour the area. Lots of fun for us but the look on the face of the poor guy driving the rickshaw that Andrew and I both got on suggested that two big fat westerners were not his ideal customers. However he was able to laugh about it and performed admirably, albeit with a little more sweat appearing than most of the drivers endured.
An evening hour or so exploring the shopping area of Nanlouguxiang street finished our day and then it was back to the hotel where Andrew banged a few desks, came close to banging a few heads I suspect and we all got a room somewhere in the hotel.
Tomorrow, a very full day’s itinerary in Beijing.