After a hectic flurry to get ready to leave, two days ago Melissa and I arrived at the airport in Beijing! Lucky for us we met a lovely man named Dave who helped us figure out the airport express and which line to take on the Brt (which is the same as our LRT except with ten very complex lines instead of one!) and gave us some great pointers too. Mostly by chance, we ended up staying in a super cool area. Our hotel Qian Men Courtyard Hotel is located on 4 Shijia Rd, which is a side street off Qianmen Street – a walking only street with a bunch of stores both modern and more traditional so there’s no shortage of places to shop. Off the main street are many side streets called Hutongs which are filled with restaurants, food stands, and candy stores (Caitlin would be in seventh heaven if she saw them). Our first night in we had the most delicious order of Peking Duck wraps ever and for just over $11!!
Yesterday we both couldn’t sleep so we were up very early (for us anyways) and grabbed a quick breakfast of some mystery soup… Which we chose not to eat.. And the most delicious little dumplings ever. They were like steamed BBQ buns but with dumpling fillings instead and they were so little and adorable! Afterwards we headed off to the Summer Palace. Since the station at Qianmen was closed for some reason we took a scenic walk two stops down the line and just hopped onto Line 4 directly instead of having to transfer from Line 2. Not going to lie it was a very long ride but it only cost us $2 each to go there and back! It was a steal of a deal so can’t really complain. The palace itself was HUGE! I think Melissa and I were both taken aback a bit. However, the crowds were huge too! Kind of felt like a cow being herded into gates. I don’t even really know where to begin to describe it. We didn’t do all of it but we did walk up to the Temple of Incense and wandered around there for a few hours. We then finished off by walking around Suzhou street where we grabbed a yummy noodle dish to eat since we were famished! Everything in the palace was just so ornate and the lake behind was breathtaking and dotted with little boats. Unfortunately for us it was super cloudy and grey yesterday so the pictures weren’t as amazing as they could have been but at least it waited to torrential downpour til after we were inside a restaurant having a Yanjing beer (We have yet to find somewhere that sells Tsingtao, much to our disappointment).
We have found it difficult to communicate and navigate as people for the most part speak no English and very few signs exist in general and even fewer in English. However, a smile still seems to go a long way and the facial expression for confusion seems to be universal! I’ve given many locals a good laugh with my “I have no idea what in the world your saying” face.