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China November 2011 - From Shanghai to Beijing - Page 6

Day 16 - Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Qianmen and the railway museum

Honestly, I did not plan to go to ANOTHER museum today, I had no idea it existed but happened to stumble onto it.
I did intend to go to Qianmen, which is a restored (largely rebuilt) street behind Tiananmen square. It was actually very nice despite the fakeness.
Strangely theres a large Taiwan town area down one side, actually called Taiwan, I thought that name was not used within China, during the olympics they have insisted that Taiwan only be named Chinese Taipei. Not only does Taiwan town exist, it is right next to Tiananmen square and the corpse of Mao himself.
I guess not everything we hear in the media about Taiwan and China hating each other is true, I got that impression when I was in Taiwan also.

I have another top tip, it infuriates store owners. Bargaining is required pretty much everywhere in China, if they say 100, offer 10, you might end up somewhere in between.
Instead of perservering with this time consuming method, which involves a big calculator you both type on, I much prefer my new method.
Locate a busy store, one with more than just western tourists in it, it needs to have Chinese people who dont need to type numbers on a calculator to bargain.
Hang around near where what you want to buy is and pay attention.
Wait for a Chinese person to bargain on what you want to buy or something like it, listen in, you want someone who gets into a heated argument with the store owner.
Once the transaction is done, follow them to the cashier and observe the price paid.
Grab hold of the guy that sold it to them, lead them back to what they just sold, type that exact price into the calculator, they will realise the gig is up and give it to you for that price.

Enough text onto the pics, I added too many today.

This is part of the line of people waiting to shuffle past the rubber / fake body of the beloved chairman. Access ends at 12 because they need to rejuvenate the body for a few hours each day with fresh fluids and make up.

The photo isnt great, but its a group of people from Mongolia or Tibet, wherever it is they like to wear colored head gear.

The entrance to Qiananmen street restored shopping district.

The nicest starbucks I have ever been to, its 4 levels high, and I think a real building with real hardwood throughout. I am convinced its real because going up the stairs the ceiling is too low to stand up straight.

Alleyways leading off the main street are long and interesting.

Theres definite fake elements to it, parts seem like a hollywood movie set with facades standing up with nothing behind them yet, then theres parts like this which are abandoned or brand new or both.

The further south you go, the less crowded it becomes. Theres tram lines, and a 'tram' runs along it, but its actually a natural gas powered bus, complete with a fake electricity collector thing sticking up at the top with no wires above to get current from.

These pipes run behind the shops for the full length of the street. I dont know what they are for, I thought air comditioning but they dont seem to pipe back into the stores anywhere.

This is part of Taiwan town, which is as much underground as above ground. Its set up to be a very big night market. Its mostly shut now so I think I will have to go back tonight.

Some of the more authentic buildings back near the start of the street.

The rather unimpressive looking railway museum, turned out to be great.

The ground floor is the most boring floor in the museum, this huge machine is not a steam engine, its a ticket stamping machine. It seems they used to issue tickets on metal dog tag type things.

The easy to miss basement is where its excellent. This is a big topographic sculpture of the Beijing to Guangzhou high speed line (I am not sure its operational yet?). The actual model is white and somewhat reflective, and top mounted projectors shine excellent graphics onto it. Behind it theres a very wide screen that shows everything cool you might see along the way like bridges, stations, monuments, mountains etc. Very impressive set up.

Looking down at the 3d model described above, an example of what gets projected onto it. It changes seasons, and day to night etc.

Next up, a more standard model of the Tibet railway, but look how big it is! Lots of info on the video screens behind it of how it was built on the permafrost.

I headed back to Taiwan town for lunch, heres part of the underground bit.

But I actually ate at Mr Hongs Chefs table. I bought the deluxe soup and it was great! Big slices of meat rather than small cubes, better flat noodles, highly recommended!

Last night in Beijing

As mentioned earlier, I headed back to the same spot I was at in the morning, as it seemed to be a night market of sorts. I guess it was, but most of it is new and not operating yet, like much of Beijing.
Not to worry, instead I explored some of the Hutongs (old alleyways) near this area, then headed back to have a huge dinner as shown below.

For some reason, Tiananmen square was closed this evening, something about national flag ceremony. I wonder how they empty it out though? I kind of wish I was there to see soldiers marching through the square telling everyone to get out.

Later in the evening, it started to rain, very very lightly. Not enough to get wet. Still this sends everyone into an absolute panic. Women with babies running across 12 lane roads into omcoming traffic, people falling off bikes etc. Within 5 minutes the streets were deserted. I dont get it.

The panic is made worse because the streets and footpaths are just so unbelievably slippery, I nearly slipped over a dozen times, and other people including soldiers were doing the same. This does not happen to me in Australia. I am therefore convinced its a combo of the build up of pollution dust and moisture that causes it to be so damn slippery.

Also, one annoying habit people have is to get to the top of an escelator, and stop to look around, like 1 step off the top of the moving stairs. This inevitably leads to the 2000 people behind them trying to step backwards to avoid smashing together. I am convinced that the recent well publicised escelator accidents were caused in this manner.

Tomorrow I start the journey home, at Beijing capital airport (I am excited, not to be going home but because this is one of the worlds great airports!). I will stop over in Hong Kong for a few hours, which I also always enjoy.

Thick pollution tonight causing red glow.

Ancient landmarks need their outline lit up, otherwise you would never see them through the pollution.

The winner of biggest fast food establishment yet seen by my own eyes goes to KFC Tiananmen square.

A hutong, the lights are just small restaurants, mainly hole in the wall places. Apparently many people living in Hutongs have no kitchens or bathrooms, hence they buy their food from a hole in the wall, and then use a community bathroom.

More hutong, this time featuring bikes.

Same place I was this morning, only now dark.

In amongst the junk selling stores, you sometimes find something decent. This guy was actually making all the jewellery on display. On the wall behind him there were lots of photos of him being interviewed on tv etc.

My dinner, beef noodle soup and dumplings one more time! I had to line up to get in here, but was determined as it looked good. The dumplings are different to other places, made from a few layers of pastry and left unfinished at the top. I found (by watching others) that you grab hold of this by hand and bite the bottom off then discard the unfinished bits. They were delicious. Also the noodles here were hand pulled on site, and fantastic.

Guys making my noodles and dumplings.

David Newton on 2011-11-16 said:
The vast majority of main meal foods is soup. Theres a heap of snack foods that are deep fried dough with various fillings, Ive had some and they taste like old oil mainly, its hard to take a photo of me eating them as doing that one handed whilst holding a scalding hot ball of dough is near on impossible.

The 3 main food groups are soups, dumplings, hot pots. Dont expect to see cantonese style chinese food in many places, I had it once in Shanghai, bbq pork.

mother on 2011-11-16 said:
how come you are living on a variety of soups for your main meal every day?

Day 17 - Thursday, 17 November 2011

Beijing capital airport

Apparently its the second largest airport building in the world after Dubai, the 5th largest building in the world overall, the second busiest by passenger numbers globally, the busiest in asia etc.
However its quiet and peaceful. It features a giant check in hall, shared between domestic and international, and then you go off to seperate areas of the building by shuttle train, I suspect the domestic part is much busier, it has 79 restaurants.

Whilst customs was fast and efficient, it involved a full frisk, and emptying the entire contents of my laptop bag and opening up my laptop etc. I have never had to do this before, generally customs are more interested with what you are bringing in, not what you are taking out.

Right now I am sitting in the Cathay pacific lounge waiting for my dragonair flight (a cathay subsidiary) to Hong Kong. So look forward to more boring airport photos from there.

Also, eventually I will get bored of sitting here eating free cake, so I might get lost in Beijing airport yet and miss my flight!

I had to transfer subways twice, then get on the airport express train. It was raining and there were lots of stairs. When I was walking in the rain with my cases, taxi drivers were leaning out the window yelling at me like I was a lunatic.
I was right about the slippery streets, since it rained properly overnight and washed all the whatever the hell it was away, the streets are no longer slippery.

Its me on the train, looking thrilled as usual. Actually I am, I am going to the airport!

Arriving at the airport, impressive station is impressive. Theres very dense fog and rain outside, yet planes seem to be landing ok.

Check in hall, the roof is sort of a red color.

Not a lot I can see out the window due to fog unfortunately.

I have the lounge to myself, well me and lots of staff to fuss over me.

Yep, more dumplings!

Hong Kong airport

I have spent many days in Hong Kong airport before, so I didnt bother to take many pictures.
Hanging around Beijing airport was pleasent, and quiet, but its not anywhere near as big or busy as Hong Kong or Singapore, so I am not sure how they measure the size and numbers I mentioned earlier.
My dragonair flight was a little late in leaving, but then once we got to the start of the runway, the pilot announced we would now sit her for 40 minutes due to sequencing into Hong Kong. A lot of people on board got mad as hell at this, the beauty of this is you get to see mad 3 times, Cantonese, Mandarin, English.

Dragonair planes are pretty nice for a supposedly low cost carrier, you still get in seat personal video, a full hot meal, then an ice cream, drink services throughout etc.

In Hong Kong I ate way too much in the lounges and enjoyed my shower greatly, it was a great relief that the famous Taiwan beef noodle spot here was closed. I had forgotten abouot it and already eaten so much, when I saw it off in the distance I briefly got excited, then relieved.

I am now sitting in Hong Kong waiting to board, so unless something miraculous happens like im the sole survivor of a plane crash, this will probably be the last update.

Overall, I rate Beijing as the best place to visit that I have been to so far! Perhaps high praise indeed, perhaps not! Not many people would enjoy a holiday in the same style as me, I have worn through the bottom of my shoes.

Random fakeness in Beijing airport

Emirates have their a380 here, with no one on it.

The train that goes back to the other terminal.

Last photo in China, for now!

Shower in the qantas lounge

food 1

food 2

food 3, flights boarding, gotta go!

David Newton on 2011-11-17 said:
I am back now
I weigh the same
Do I look fat or something? I am confused!

Phil on 2011-11-17 said:
You might want to weigh yourself when you get home. By the way when is that.

bobule on 2011-11-17 said:
a most excellent adventure!!!

Contents

Latest Update

Day 1 - Tuesday, 1 November 2011
  Qantas dramas
  Sydney airport
  Shanghai arrival
Day 2 - Wednesday, 2 November 2011
  Raining
  Still raining
Day 3 - Thursday, 3 November 2011
  The bund
  Hongqiao transport hub
  Nanjing road west
Day 4 - Friday, 4 November 2011
  Going to Suzhou
  Walking forever
  Back from Suzhou
Day 5 - Saturday, 5 November 2011
  Xujiahui
  Pudong is awesome
Day 6 - Sunday, 6 November 2011
  Xintandi
  Guitars and home made dinner
Day 7 - Monday, 7 November 2011
  Yuyuan Bazaar
  Zhongshan
Day 8 - Tuesday, 8 November 2011
  Science museum
  Last night in Shanghai
Day 9 - Wednesday, 9 November 2011
  Shanghai to Beijing
  Central Beijing
Day 10 - Thursday, 10 November 2011
  The forbidden city
  Tiananmen Square
  Random walk
Day 11 - Friday, 11 November 2011
  Temple of Heaven
  Xidan
Day 12 - Saturday, 12 November 2011
  Beihai park and military museum
  Sanlitun
Day 13 - Sunday, 13 November 2011
  Going to the great wall
  The great wall
  Returning from the great wall
Day 14 - Monday, 14 November 2011
  Lost
  Really lost
Day 15 - Tuesday, 15 November 2011
  National museum
  Zhongguancun
Day 16 - Wednesday, 16 November 2011
  Qianmen and the railway museum
  Last night in Beijing
Day 17 - Thursday, 17 November 2011
  Beijing capital airport
  Hong Kong airport