Days Seven and Eight – Beijing
I spent two days trying to recover from hike of the Great Wall from Jinshanling to Simatai. To be more specific, my thighs were freaking sore for two days. Every step up and down the stairs, especially down, brought enormous discomfort. I think people were looking at me funny because of the way i was walking up and down the stairs. I guess i must have looked like a chinese zombie (僵尸) – according to what i know, chinese zombies could not bend at the knees.
On Day 7, i went to the shopping area of Wangfujing (王府井). I think this street is kind of similar to the Nanjing street in Shanghai, where the main shopping area is off-limit to most vehicles. Near Wangfujin street is a really big indoor shopping mall called the Oriental Plaza (東方廣場). I have never seen so many tall and good-looking girls in one location ! This is really not an exaggeration. In fact, i saw a pretty good-looking girl that was my height ! Compare with the girls i have seen in Shanghai, i think the girls in Beijing are definitely better looking and taller. The interesting thing is that i did not see as many tall chinese men though. I spent of most of the afternoon and evening at the mall relaxing, and enjoying the “sceneries” :).
On Day 8, i went to Jingshan park (景山公園). While getting ready to head for JIngshan park, i met Regis at the front desk. Apparently, his plan of going to a beach on the coast did not pan out so he is still in Beijing. I told him i wanted to check out one of the Hutongs (胡同) here. He told me there is one near the Gulou (鼓樓) and he said it’s easier to get there by the bus. I took bus #103 from the bus stop near the hostel. Taking the bus in Beijing is a pretty unique experience for me. There is a ticket conductor that sells you a paper ticket and each ride costs RMB 1. The ticket conductor also acts as traffic announcer, warning pedestrians and cyclists to move away from the bus – her microphone is hooked up to a loudspeaker outside of the bus.
One thing i noticed about Beijing, in almost all the public areas including buses, is that there are signs about the areas or buses being sterilized (消毒). Isn’t being cleaned and hygienic something to be assumed ? Is it really necessary to announce that everything is clean and sterilized ? It seems to me that being cleaned and sterilized is a main selling point for a product here.
One of the reasons why i took the bus instead of a cab is that earlier during the day, a cab driver wanted RMB 50 from me just to get to where i wanted. I got off the car immediately. It really pissed me off to see asshole like this trying to extort money from unsuspecting visitors to Beijing. Also, while waiting for a cab, a fight broke out right in front of me between two guys who were waiting for cabs. The shorter but bigger guy was pummeling the taller but skinnier guy. Just when i was about to try to step in to stop the fight, it ended. I guess the shorter and bigger guy won and he got in the cab first. This is so freaking ridiculous.
Anyway, back to the bus. Bus #103 took me right in front of Jinshan park (景山公圓). The only reason why i wanted to visit Jinshan Park is just so i could see the tree where the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty hung himself. The park itself seemed pretty decent except i did not stay there for long – my only goal was to see the tree.
After i got done with the park, i went out of the park through the west gate and had a late lunch at a nearby restaurant. Then i took bus #5 to Gulou. There was a sign that pointed me to the Hutong there. Right after i walked into the Hutong, i knew i made a big mistake going there. The area was so commercialized, it really looked like a tourist town. The Hutong was full of souvenir shops and bars. When i walked farther west toward Houhai (后海), on both sides of the lake was full of restaurants. What kind of Hutong is this? I left extremely disappointed.
After that, i went to a mall in Xidan (西單) because i was told one could get pretty good deals there. I stopped by a newly-opened tattoo parlor when i saw a sign about temporary tattoo. After seeing the previous work done by the tattoo artist (張小龍), i told him to put a temporary tattoo of a chinese dragon on my back. It was a big ass tattoo 🙂 Being the first customer, he did another one on my right arm for free !
They (he and his girlfriend 劉麗) were pretty nice to me, i guess because i was the first customer. I stayed on and talked to him for a few more hours. After they closed the tattoo parlor at 2200, i bought them dinner at a nearby restaurant.