Around Beijing (Sat) 22 May 2010

In the days spent in Beijing, dad and I have settled into a routine.

Forbidden City - Tour groups were the bane of my existence in China

He would wake early and go to the market across the lane and he’ll buy stuff for breakfast and snacks to bring with us for the day.

After the initial shock, I think I’ve gotten used to having dad around.

Forbidden City - more people

We’ve been having long conversations. About the going-ons at home and gossip about relatives. We spoke a lot about China, history, the news, and so on. They are his favourite topics.

When he’s not short-tempered, it’s actually quite nice to have proper conversations again. During one of which I found out that he’s never actually been to many places in China! For some reason, I’ve always assumed that he’s been everywhere, possibly because of his (very opinioned) lectures about Chinese history and politics. In actual fact, he says he’s only ever travelled for work, staying a night here and there and spending the days in meetings, so he’s seen very little of the country. So I suppose it’s quite cool that he now gets to go see places for real.

Temple of Heaven - I didn't actually see much of what's inside coz I couldn't bother to push through the crowd...

We went round town hitting the big sights. The Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, Prince Gong’s Palace. We walked around the Huohai area and sat at a Starbucks.

I was at the very same Starbucks years ago. It was in the midst of a freezing winter when we stood outside waiting for friends to arrive. I thought my ears were gonna fall off and Nasty pulled me inside and bought me a hot chocolate.

I know. I’m hopeless.

The Bird's Nest Stadium

After the almost-death-by-flower-bed incident, I’ve gotten into the habit of pointing out steps and curbs to dad, and pulling him back at busy crossings.

I realise I never saw as much or understood as much of the monuments and sights in Beijing when I visited Nasty here. Or the other places in China we went to really. It feels like a blur. Not that I cared that much then. For all I knew, we could’ve been in Afghanistan and it would have been the same.

Hopeless.

But still, I have little interest in Beijing coz I feel like I’ve seen all I wanted to see.

The Water Cube

We’ve been having great food. After my self-imposed starvation so far, Bejing was like food heaven. Cheap hearty portions. And I repeat CHEAP. Cooked food stalls. Grilled meat-on-sticks. Noodles. Dumplings. Buns.

Our noodle stall near the hostel

We went to this dingy shop around our hostel for breakfast a lot. Warm, slightly sweetened soy milk. A dozen meat buns. A dozen meat dumplings. Tofu Fa. We ate it all up for what was probably just £1 each.

This is THE shit!

For dinner, we sometimes went to this hole-in-the-wall for a big bowl of noodles and 50 sticks of barbequed meat-on-sticks. We sat with the locals who sometimes squatted around with a handful of sticks and a Tsingdao beer. We got much better food and much better service than this other pricy restaurant we went to that is apparently patronised by celebrities and such!

After 5 days in Beijing, we got train tickets to Xian.

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