We’re up early since Anna has promised that we’re going to see some of the great wall from the train. It’s really hazy weather this morning though so we don’t see much of anything. The landscape is much more interesting than yesterday and I spend a fair amount of time hanging out the window. It’s mostly farmland with antiquated equipment such as donkey-pulled plows.
Before reaching the outskirts of Beijing we travel alongside a beautiful river valley where we all just gawk at the scenery. At about half past two we reach Beijing station and get bussed to the hotel. Observation: Beijing has certain lanes dedicated to u-turns (as well as stop lights), really neat!
We get asked if we want to go to an acrobatics show this evening and most of us sign up (tickets are 280 yuan, approx 300 sek). At the hotel we’re met by Karina, the Pink Caravan guide who will accompany us to North Korea. We’re assigned rooms and meet up to get briefed about Beijing, those of us going to North Korea are held for an additional briefing about that part. This means I miss the dinner train and have to find something to eat on my own withing the hour that’s left until the show. I find a nice back alley not far from the hotel, which is at Xuanwumen subway station. It’s the kind of alley where they sell carps out of a bucket and I find a guy selling some sort of fried bread filled with vegetables and lots of chili out of a window. I buy a piece for just over two yuan and continue on, munching happily. I also find a pomelo the size of a bowling ball for 11 yuan.
Back at the hotel we gather to go to the show. We’re led by a Chinese guide and take the subway right at rush hour, it’s just as hectic as you’d imagine. The Beijing subway system is excellent though, especially after the olympics, with signs in both English and Chinese. It’s also a steal at 2 yuan, with as many changes as you like. It’s a good idea, just as in the Moscow metro, to carry your backpack on your chest. You might look like a retard, but at least you get to keep your stuff.
The show is good, but not great (seeing Cirque de Soleil in Vegas has ruined me for life). They do some really cool stuff, mainly jumping very high (and very high flip-flops as well) through very small hoops. After the show Matilda, Johnny, Henrik and me break off from the rest to find a bite to eat before going back to the hotel. We wander aimlessly and finally find ourselves in what seems to be a Japanese restaurant. Johnny and Matilda go for the Chinese speciality Hotpot (Matilda explains that she’s made a list of local foods that she wants to try in each country we pass through and Hotpot is one of them), I go for a simple fried rice. The food is excellent and we end up paying 60 yuan each including beer, a bit on the steep side to be Beijing really.
We decide to do some additional wandering after dinner just to get a feel for the city. So we look up a subway station on the map and start walking towards it. Turns out it’s a bit farther than we expected since a lot of little streets (as in only 4 lanes) are omitted on the map, and we probably walk for an hour before getting there.
We see a bunch of interesting things along the way though, such as an outdoor exercise yard (just a bunch of workout equipment along the sidewalk really), lots of funny signs like “meat patty make your stomach explode” and generally a lot of neat little shops and restaurants. It’s weird how few people are out on the town though, considering that we’re out at about eleven in the evening on a Friday night, but maybe we’re just in the wrong part of town.