In my previous post I covered quite a bit of Beijing but there’s still a lot more to be said. Beijing is a massive city and there is a lot to do, make sure you read part 1 of visiting Beijing as well. Once again, here is the link to the Flickr photo album for all of the China pictures.
The next day in Beijing was absolutely fantastic, my friends Brian (the guy traveling around China with me), Daniel (the guy that lives in China), and I went on a bike ride through the Hutong alleyways which was quite an experience. Keep in mind that things are still pretty tame on the trip since Daniel is with us and can handle all of the communication for us. The Hutong alleyways are a collection of tiny streets and alleys that run through a particular part of town in Beijing and I absolutely recommend that you take a bike and ride through them. Renting the bikes was fairly easy and cost a few dollars for the whole day, of course Daniel set everything up for us. The picture below is one I took of Brian while riding around.
Here’s a video from the bike ride!
While biking around we thought it would be a bit fun to have a few drinks while cruising around and we basically made a little agreement with ourselves that we would stop to grab a beer at every little local store we saw (no there weren’t THAT many) and since a Tsing Tao beer costs around 20 cents it sounded like a darn good idea. So there we were, a bit tipsy cruising around the streets of Beijing, I can’t tell you how fun it was!
We stopped to get dumplings at some random little restaurant during our ride and let me tell you that if there was a way to review that place on Yelp I would have given those dumplings the highest possible rating, they were that good. We also stopped at some little pastry shop and got these 3 flavors of pudding which I believe were strawberry, honey, and regular (the honey one had a real dead bee in it):
During the course of the bike ride we also drove by a few temples, the Lama temple in particular stood out and is worth a quick visit. We also rode to a few drum towers which were also interesting. Once you climb the staircase to the top of a drum tower you have a pretty good view over the Hutong alleyways.
Overall what made the bike ride fun was just cruising around the alleyways and seeing how some people live and work, especially while tipsy. It was one of those random spontaneous decisions and it was a damn good one. I’m not really a huge drinker at all but I’m big on new experiences! Here’s a picture of me in front of the Lama temple.
The bike ride pretty much took the whole day so afterwords we went back to the hotel to change and then went out for dinner. This was our last night in Beijing until we would return the day before our flight back to San Francisco. It was a long and exhausting day but it was well worth it. After our time in Beijing we took an overnight train to Shanghai. From this point onward we were without Daniel and it was pretty much up to Brian and I to get by and communicate with people, our safety net was gone and that’s when the real interesting things started to happen! We had our Lonely Planet guide book and phrase book to get us around. We had a cell phone that we could use to call Daniel during emergencies, of which we had a lot of. Here are a few pics at the train station as we were getting ready to leave Beijing.
As you can see there were hundreds of other people who were getting ready to board the train with us. If you find yourself taking a train in Beijing (or anywhere in China for that matter) then always make sure you buy the “soft sleeper” seats, these are the most expensive and essentially you get your own little room that fits 4 people and is safe and secure with your own private entry door. The “hard sleeper” seats are just rows of bunk beds and everything is out in the open, or you can opt to sleep or stand for the whole trip, not what I would recommend. Also, make sure you bring plenty of snacks with you on the train as you will get hungry, there’s also a dining car on all of the trains.
Next stop, Shanghai!