My train ride to Beijing was wonderful. It was warm, relaxing and I probably had the best sleep in weeks – which says something about the low quality of sleep I get in my hall.
I quickly found my hostel, called Dragon King, which is located in a quiet alley under 5 minutes away from the nearest metro station. Beijing’s metro-system is superb. You can get anywhere in the city, provided that you can wait – Beijing’s metros are incredibly slow. I had dinner not far from Dragon King, at a noodle soup place where you had to choose all your ingredients yourself. You take lettuce, noodles, and all sorts of veggies, meats, and tofus on sticks and put them in a basket. The cook then proceeds to make the soup for you. Cheap (usually between 13 and 23 rmb) and tasty, unless if you, like me, put pepper flour on top. I had a completely new ‘too spicy’ experience which had more in common with the numbness of anaesthetics. I also got some sweets from a shop with a long queue in front (the long queue being why I was interested in the first place). One of them was crab meat (yuck), but the rest was excellent sweet stuff, so I was happy.
The next day I got up early, had breakfast at my hostel (the electrical sockets in my room didn’t work, so I had to charge my phone in the lounge) and went to the Forbidden City. There I spent the next 5 hours looking at old houses, gardens, treasures, some very pompous clocks, and sometimes just standing next to a heater to warm up again. The Forbidden City offers an immense collection of antiques and is probably one of the finest museums in all China.
After walking out the north gate I went up Beijing’s highest hill to get a wonderful view of the palace and get blinded by the sun, which at its highest point during the day still made it impossible to see anything looking south without squinting your eyes – now I know why Chinese people look like they do :/ Luckily there was “low pollution”, so I got loads of blue sky.
Taking a long walk around the palace I once again got to Tiananmen Square, which, after queueing up for a security check, I explored. It’s huge. Gigantic even. The Mausoleum in the middle is grotesque, though.
Back at my hostel I went out with some people to a restaurant where we had some duck, chicken, and the most amazing eggplant.