More Trips

Japan9 October 19


Frangland July 19


Korkong April 19


Japan8 October 18


China4 April 18


Japan7 October 17


Taiwan4 March 17


Japan6 October 16


Europe May 16


Japan5 November 15


Korea2 March 15

Even More Trips

HongJapWan March 2014
Sichuan March 2013
Tokyo3 October 2012
China2 August 2012
Japwan March 2012
China November 2011
Korea September 2011
Taiwan March 2011
London3 June 2010
Japan May 2010
London2 February 2010
London September 2009
SE Asia December 2005

The great loop of China - April 2018 - Page 2

Day 4 - Tuesday, 17 April 2018

The west lake of the northern capital

Exploring the summer palace by subway

Today I went to another top tourist attraction, the summer palace. I had never been there before. Parts of it are modeled on the famous west lake of Hangzhou, where I have been before and will soon be at again. That means its a great place to go for a long walk around a picturesque lake. I am sure no one cares about the geography lesson, so lets tell some stories, then I can talk about the lake and palace in the photos, of which I took far too many.

I had to take 3 subway lines to get to the summer palace. That is easy, its well sign posted, and it goes everywhere, and a subway train comes every few seconds.
Getting into the station means going through airport style security, except its a huge joke. You have to put your bag on a conveyor to be x-rayed, except no one is ever looking at the screen. If you forget to put your bag on the conveyor they will get angry at you. Its like the handbook said make sure bag go on conveyor, but forgot to mention look at screen to check for bomb.
No one, me included, empties their pockets, so you walk through the magnetic body scanner thing and it goes beep, for absolutely everyone. Every Chinese person has at least 2 phones and 3 backup batteries. So what was the point of installing the magnetic scanner gate thing?
So now someone quickly waves the hand held scanner thing that beeps wherever you have something metallic. They wave this over you, and yes it beeps. And then you just walk off without even showing them why it beeped. There are generally 5 people manning each entrance keeping up this charade. Every station has 4 entrances, so thats 20 people per station. There are currently 370 stations in the Beijing metro network, so 1850 people are right now employed to choreograph a pointless dance routine involving pointing at a conveyor and waving a body scanner.

The great loop of China - April 2018 - Before even getting to the palace I went for a long walk on the search for coffee and ended up walking around Houhai lake, just in case I didnt get to

Before even getting to the palace I went for a long walk on the search for coffee and ended up walking around Houhai lake, just in case I didnt get to do enough walking later. People fish in this lake, brave people. There are also numerous heavily amplified karaoke sessions going on to wake up everyone withing a 5 mile radius.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Unfortunately I was too early to rent one of these boats, but the attendants in their blue overalls stood to attention and sang an old sea shanty as t

Unfortunately I was too early to rent one of these boats, but the attendants in their blue overalls stood to attention and sang an old sea shanty as their boss corrected their posture.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - I found a place nearby for breakfast, obviously not Chinese style, it even has Chia seeds, with yogurt and banana. Coffee was terrible!

I found a place nearby for breakfast, obviously not Chinese style, it even has Chia seeds, with yogurt and banana. Coffee was terrible!


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Still not at the summer palace, but I did find a newly restored old street. Newly restored old streets are the newest sensation in the old parts of Be

Still not at the summer palace, but I did find a newly restored old street. Newly restored old streets are the newest sensation in the old parts of Beijing.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Now I am at the summer palace, and its very popular with domestic tour groups. The few foreigners that I spotted all had guides. Why would you want a

Now I am at the summer palace, and its very popular with domestic tour groups. The few foreigners that I spotted all had guides. Why would you want a guide? Everyone I see who has a guide is busy trying to educate their guide on how their country compares favorably to China. The guides pretend to care, because they are guiding Americans, who will tip at the end of the day based on how well you have received criticism.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Instead of going to the palace, I went the other way, because I am a fool, and walked the entire perimeter of the lake. I am always securing the perim

Instead of going to the palace, I went the other way, because I am a fool, and walked the entire perimeter of the lake. I am always securing the perimeter of something.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Here is an old bridge to an island. I needed a zoom lens today (my camera is a fixed prime lens), and of course it would be good if the pollution disa

Here is an old bridge to an island. I needed a zoom lens today (my camera is a fixed prime lens), and of course it would be good if the pollution disappeared.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Here is another bridge. The water was very clean, in some of my photos it looks greener than it was. Possibly reflections from all the awesome trees.

Here is another bridge. The water was very clean, in some of my photos it looks greener than it was. Possibly reflections from all the awesome trees.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - And here are the awesome trees, it was very pleasant walking along under them looking at the blossoms and making Chinese children anxious.

And here are the awesome trees, it was very pleasant walking along under them looking at the blossoms and making Chinese children anxious.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Another bridge. Old people were actually swimming in the water near here! I couldnt really get a photo that looked like anything other than debris flo

Another bridge. Old people were actually swimming in the water near here! I couldnt really get a photo that looked like anything other than debris floating in the water. Old people love to parade around like proud peacocks in their bathing suits.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - There are many snack stores along the path that look like ancient temples. Water was not ridiculously over priced like it was on the great wall. Proba

There are many snack stores along the path that look like ancient temples. Water was not ridiculously over priced like it was on the great wall. Probably because there are a lot less foreign tourists here.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Another bridge, most of them were built in the 1700's.

Another bridge, most of them were built in the 1700's.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Here is every color of blossom, white, red, pink, yellow. I guess orange is missing, I have definitely seen orange before.

Here is every color of blossom, white, red, pink, yellow. I guess orange is missing, I have definitely seen orange before.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - This family of swans have even constructed a small house for themselves with a nice view of their pond.

This family of swans have even constructed a small house for themselves with a nice view of their pond.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Here we have a touching scene. Nanna has been brought to the lake to look at the blossoms once more, before her daughter rolls her into the lake for b

Here we have a touching scene. Nanna has been brought to the lake to look at the blossoms once more, before her daughter rolls her into the lake for becoming too much of a burden.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - A different kind of bridge.

A different kind of bridge.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - This is the man made causeway thats a couple of miles long. There actually was a sign saying it had been constructed specifically to mimic the west la

This is the man made causeway thats a couple of miles long. There actually was a sign saying it had been constructed specifically to mimic the west lake at Hangzhou. There is actually somewhere in Japan where they did the same thing, I went there and took a photo of that too. I have now been to all three Hangzhou west lakes.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - NO ROMPING!

NO ROMPING!


The great loop of China - April 2018 - A bit more of the green lake.

A bit more of the green lake.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Now we leave the lake and head into palace world, here is a gate and some ladies who have dressed up for the occasion.

Now we leave the lake and head into palace world, here is a gate and some ladies who have dressed up for the occasion.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - If you suffer from hay fever, do not come here

If you suffer from hay fever, do not come here


The great loop of China - April 2018 - This ancient boat is made from solid ivory. It must have been a huge elephant!

This ancient boat is made from solid ivory. It must have been a huge elephant!


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Now I entered the land of the Buddha. Everything from now on had some kind of ridiculous name. The grand hall of indeterminable incense for divine pre

Now I entered the land of the Buddha. Everything from now on had some kind of ridiculous name. The grand hall of indeterminable incense for divine predictions.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Looking out over the effervescent courtyard of the 7 truths of the condor. Looks like a computer game.

Looking out over the effervescent courtyard of the 7 truths of the condor. Looks like a computer game.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Looking back up from my vantage point at the former site of the well where the prince king ascended and transformed into a sacred ghost.

Looking back up from my vantage point at the former site of the well where the prince king ascended and transformed into a sacred ghost.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - This is actually a garden according to the signs, without any plants. The garden of divine gratitude, that is its real name. How can it be a garden!

This is actually a garden according to the signs, without any plants. The garden of divine gratitude, that is its real name. How can it be a garden!


The great loop of China - April 2018 - This grandma is posing in the sun, in a rain coat with an umbrella. They were having a great time. Everyone was! I posed for 5 photos with random midd

This grandma is posing in the sun, in a rain coat with an umbrella. They were having a great time. Everyone was! I posed for 5 photos with random middle aged Chinese women who insisted I be in their photos.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - This is another garden, I forget its name, something harmonious. There were goldfish.

This is another garden, I forget its name, something harmonious. There were goldfish.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - After walking through the actual garden areas, I arrived at the last stop today inside the summer palace compound, Suzhou street. Suzhou is a famous w

After walking through the actual garden areas, I arrived at the last stop today inside the summer palace compound, Suzhou street. Suzhou is a famous water city (think Venice) near Shanghai. I have already been there twice!


The great loop of China - April 2018 - A bit more Suzhou street, I wonder how many people fall in when this place is crowded? There is no guard rail and the path is very narrow in places.

A bit more Suzhou street, I wonder how many people fall in when this place is crowded? There is no guard rail and the path is very narrow in places.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Second to last photo, Suzhou street with a bridge.

Second to last photo, Suzhou street with a bridge.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - And one more for good measure with a lantern. The summer palace was an excellent place to go, accessible by subway, entrance fee about $10 that gets y

And one more for good measure with a lantern. The summer palace was an excellent place to go, accessible by subway, entrance fee about $10 that gets you into everything, opportunities to walk an epic distance, a hill to climb, all it needs is a proper place to sit and enjoy a coffee - the Hangzhou west lake has lots of places!


Gentrification

Walking to Sanlitun from Wangfujing

Tonight I went to the nightclub and drug dealing area of Beijing, Sanlitun. It is located near all the embassies and the theory goes that all the sons of diplomats were importing drugs to sell knowing they had diplomatic immunity, the worst that would happen when they got caught is they would be thrown out of China.
I went there last time I was here, and indeed there were a lot of guys insisting I buy heroin / cocaine etc off of them, and I could see people openly buying stuff in the street. That all seems to have changed.

The only thing on offer tonight was 'girly bar?' and that was being offered by Chinese guys, not relatives of African warlords. Actually there didnt seem to be many foreigners there at all, perhaps everyone moved somewhere else or just left.
Despite its former notorious reputation, it is also the most upmarket part of Beijing, full of things Russians like to buy, and the streets are full of Lamborghinis driven by princelings who dont know how to drive who enjoy revving the crap out of them while stuck in traffic.

I remembered that the last time I went to Sanlitun I struggled to find anywhere to eat that I could afford or get into, however this time it was pretty good, the area under the intercontinental hotel has a street food street, perhaps the closest to street food I am likely to experience as I hate eating on the street, instead I had gentrified street food - 2 levels under a 5 star hotel in an air conditioned well lit shopping mall.

The great loop of China - April 2018 - I am staying in the old city, very near the forbidden city. Tonight I walked towards the new city, where the buildings start to get taller and more mo

I am staying in the old city, very near the forbidden city. Tonight I walked towards the new city, where the buildings start to get taller and more modern. However the even bigger buildings are still a long way off in the distance in the smog. The CCTV 'pants' building is still a few kilometres away from here. Beijing is enormous.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - The worlds largest bank by every measure (I think or is it their competitor ICBC?). Either way, Bank of China is huge and has a huge building. Actuall

The worlds largest bank by every measure (I think or is it their competitor ICBC?). Either way, Bank of China is huge and has a huge building. Actually they have lots of huge buildings.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Here is a line. Everyone has seen a line before. Maybe you have also seen youtube videos of crowded Chinese subway stations. Well this is a line to ge

Here is a line. Everyone has seen a line before. Maybe you have also seen youtube videos of crowded Chinese subway stations. Well this is a line to get into the station, and the platform is a long way underground, so presumably that platform is full, as are all the stairs and escalators, resulting in a line out into the street. Glad I decided to walk.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - A whole street full of dubious clubs and karaoke bars. They dont want me as a customer, my awesome singing would intimidate the other patrons into lea

A whole street full of dubious clubs and karaoke bars. They dont want me as a customer, my awesome singing would intimidate the other patrons into leaving.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - In the up market mall area now, and here is the biggest advertising installation I ever saw. The screen behind everything here is easily 4 floors high

In the up market mall area now, and here is the biggest advertising installation I ever saw. The screen behind everything here is easily 4 floors high.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Its a giant monkey, hanging off a building, shooting laser beams out of its eyes.

Its a giant monkey, hanging off a building, shooting laser beams out of its eyes.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Here, have a bit more mall.

Here, have a bit more mall.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - I have absolutely no idea what this store was selling, it also does not seem to be an art gallery. The guy running the store was asleep.

I have absolutely no idea what this store was selling, it also does not seem to be an art gallery. The guy running the store was asleep.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - I like it when they light up the trees.

I like it when they light up the trees.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - This is the awesome intercontinental hotel. It has an LED exo-skeleton that can be lit up in any color of full motion video. You would have to see it

This is the awesome intercontinental hotel. It has an LED exo-skeleton that can be lit up in any color of full motion video. You would have to see it to understand.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Sorry about the blurry vision, it was a moving subject in the dark. In amongst the parade of Lamborghinis this went past. A husband and wife transport

Sorry about the blurry vision, it was a moving subject in the dark. In amongst the parade of Lamborghinis this went past. A husband and wife transporting plastic crates on their bicycles. The lead bike is electric, pulling the second one with a rope. They were adding to the general traffic chaos.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - I found my dinner under here somewhere.

I found my dinner under here somewhere.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - OMUSOBA! Its an omelet filled with soba noodles. I think I have eaten too many noodles. Presentation was lacking but it was delicious.

OMUSOBA! Its an omelet filled with soba noodles. I think I have eaten too many noodles. Presentation was lacking but it was delicious.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Nearby is a car dealership for future electric cars that dont exist yet. You know they are electric because they have used an exciting electric blue p

Nearby is a car dealership for future electric cars that dont exist yet. You know they are electric because they have used an exciting electric blue pattern, blue being the globally recognized color of electric car.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - If you saw cola flavored potato chips with a black colored pug dog on the packet, would you buy them? Of course you would. The cola flavor was really

If you saw cola flavored potato chips with a black colored pug dog on the packet, would you buy them? Of course you would. The cola flavor was really very strong too!


The great loop of China - April 2018 - And now as I was typing this, some cards appeared under my hotel room door. Another day over, another 45,000 steps today, many more tomorrow!

And now as I was typing this, some cards appeared under my hotel room door. Another day over, another 45,000 steps today, many more tomorrow!


There are currently 4 comments - click to add

Brian on 2018-04-18 said:

I want your camera brilliant photos


mother on 2018-04-17 said:

the car dealer can't spell. I bet they had live chickens in those crates earlier. It looks like she still has some in her bike basket - I can see chicken feet poking out the top.


adriana on 2018-04-17 said:

'all along the watchtower' song title?


jenny on 2018-04-17 said:

Truly spectacular. I need to go there. Hope you had a good romp



Day 5 - Wednesday, 18 April 2018

The bee filled mountain of many amenities

Exploring the fragrant hills by public transport

Another day, another opportunity to spend many hours walking around in the glorious pollution haze.
Despite the air quality index suggesting the pollution levels are not too bad, visibility is terrible. Perhaps this means it is sand and not what is generally considered health damaging small particle pollution.

Because there would be no chance for a decent view of anything, I decided to head to a small set of mountains north west of the city famous for their spectacular views of all of Beijing!
These mountains are called the fragrant hills, and there is now a train of sorts that takes you all the way there.
The subway gets you 90% of the way there with efficient speed, but then you transfer to a new tram, and honestly, I could jog quicker. I really did consider getting off and jogging. This tram amazingly crosses over roads, the traffic is expected to stop for it, in China! Now obviously that would never happen, so instead at each of the level crossings, the tram stops, blows its horn, and wakes up a little man in a little booth. He then comes out and attempts to stop traffic, eventually after he is nearly killed 5 times, he stretches a ribbon across the road and the tram progresses, slowly.
It does look like they are improving this, perhaps with boom gates, the line is brand new and there is still a great deal of construction.

The tram also goes past the Beijing botanical gardens, these looked really good, and enormous, the vast majority of people got off at that stop, and I could see inside that everyone had tripods and huge cameras for blossom appreciation. It is slightly different to Japan, in China it is all about you being in the photo with the blossoms. Girls were busy applying make up and accessories and setting self timers on huge cameras for the perfect banned in China instagram photo.
I could observe all of this in detail because of how slow the tram was!

The great loop of China - April 2018 - Here is the entrance to the fragrant hills park, it has an entrance fee of about $3. In a communist country everything must have an entrance fee other

Here is the entrance to the fragrant hills park, it has an entrance fee of about $3. In a communist country everything must have an entrance fee otherwise the people will over use it.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Inside the gate is the first of many temples. They were all great and the gardens and stone work were very high quality, sparkling clean. The photos w

Inside the gate is the first of many temples. They were all great and the gardens and stone work were very high quality, sparkling clean. The photos will be ruined by the smog.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - This is what China calls a hiking path. Everywhere was this quality of path, even paths where I saw no one for hours which I assume are never used. Th

This is what China calls a hiking path. Everywhere was this quality of path, even paths where I saw no one for hours which I assume are never used. The majority of people take one of 2 cable cars up, but there were still a few people walking the main route to the top.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - The title of todays post says many amenities. There were bins everywhere, countless public toilets, and no rubbish anywhere. I read a review that talk

The title of todays post says many amenities. There were bins everywhere, countless public toilets, and no rubbish anywhere. I read a review that talked about wading through waist high piles of garbage, I saw nothing at all. Did I go to a different park?


The great loop of China - April 2018 - A bit more path, despite being a very over engineered hiking experience, it was still very enjoyable. I was surprised it was as hard as it was, steep

A bit more path, despite being a very over engineered hiking experience, it was still very enjoyable. I was surprised it was as hard as it was, steep in places, long stair cases, people doubled over sweating gallons of hot water.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - A view across to another peak. I walked all along the top to this peak in the distance. The park has a mini great wall all the way around it with razo

A view across to another peak. I walked all along the top to this peak in the distance. The park has a mini great wall all the way around it with razor wire on top to discourage locals from cheating on the entrance fee. I did read that some local un-harmonious citizens offer a ladder service for a discount rate of $1


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Here we have the Chinese girl hiking outfit. Its about 30 degrees celsius today. That means you need a full long sleeve, long pants plastic shiny pink

Here we have the Chinese girl hiking outfit. Its about 30 degrees celsius today. That means you need a full long sleeve, long pants plastic shiny pink track suit. Useless little bag, furry toys attached to useless bag, multiple cell phones, useless crap hanging off the cell phone, inappropriate shoes.
They are also both wearing headbands with plastic flowers glued onto them which I saw an old lady selling by the entrance. You might be wondering why there are no headphones to complete the ensemble, dont worry, one of them is streaming Korean pop music on her phones loudspeaker.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Here is the 'view', squint and you might be able to see the cable car.

Here is the 'view', squint and you might be able to see the cable car.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Have a bit more view, featuring blossoms.

Have a bit more view, featuring blossoms.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - It only took about an hour to reach the summit snack bar temple, but I enjoyed it a lot. The summit area wasnt even crowded today, probably because mo

It only took about an hour to reach the summit snack bar temple, but I enjoyed it a lot. The summit area wasnt even crowded today, probably because most people would only bother spending the money for the cable car on a clearer day.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Summit view.

Summit view.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - View of angry psychopath.

View of angry psychopath.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Here we have the summit rock marker, and a large citizen monitoring camera tower to make sure everyone behaves in a harmonious manner. Swearing will g

Here we have the summit rock marker, and a large citizen monitoring camera tower to make sure everyone behaves in a harmonious manner. Swearing will get you 3 points on your license, littering 5, 20 points and you cant fly anymore, 50 points and you cant buy train tickets. Chinese facial recognition artificial intelligence technology is next level. There was a news story the other day about a camera locating a wanted man in a stadium with 30,000 people, they were not looking for him there specifically, its just that the cameras are scanning everyone, all the time.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - The view over the back of the mountain. There seemed to be paths and temples and pagodas everywhere the eye could kind of see if you squinted and inve

The view over the back of the mountain. There seemed to be paths and temples and pagodas everywhere the eye could kind of see if you squinted and invented things in the distance.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Incense Bumer, sea ievei, enshrouding the perk. I think enshrouding the perk is my favorite.

Incense Bumer, sea ievei, enshrouding the perk. I think enshrouding the perk is my favorite.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - I keep mentioning snack bars inside temples. here is the inside of the summit temple. I think this is great, Japan should do this! Instead they mount

I keep mentioning snack bars inside temples. here is the inside of the summit temple. I think this is great, Japan should do this! Instead they mount neon lit vending machines to the side of their temples.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - More attempted view of cable car.

More attempted view of cable car.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Beijing, and a listening monitoring station. These dishes were everywhere!

Beijing, and a listening monitoring station. These dishes were everywhere!


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Now we get to the surprise brand new awesome temple. It really was brand spanking new, not even on the map. It was also awesome.

Now we get to the surprise brand new awesome temple. It really was brand spanking new, not even on the map. It was also awesome.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - It was also 'free' as in, included in the park entry price, with a giant curving stair case to the top. I was excited.

It was also 'free' as in, included in the park entry price, with a giant curving stair case to the top. I was excited.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Some of the view from the top, this was all well hidden because it is built on an extreme slope, I had no idea it was here until I stumbled onto the t

Some of the view from the top, this was all well hidden because it is built on an extreme slope, I had no idea it was here until I stumbled onto the top of it. It is impossible to photograph the full compound from the top or the bottom due to how steep it is.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - One last temple shot, or so I thought.

One last temple shot, or so I thought.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Here are some local thugs forced to do community service gardening.

Here are some local thugs forced to do community service gardening.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - On my way in, it cost money to go into this temple. But I must have descended down a path that sent me into the back of it without knowing for free. N

On my way in, it cost money to go into this temple. But I must have descended down a path that sent me into the back of it without knowing for free. Nice trees, nice bridge.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - The street back to the super slow tram was also quite nice, lots of little shops and cafes. It will look a lot nicer once the leaves return to the tre

The street back to the super slow tram was also quite nice, lots of little shops and cafes. It will look a lot nicer once the leaves return to the trees properly.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Back in town now, and if you live in a big Australian city and go to where the Chinese people live, you will have seen these karaoke booths. Here is a

Back in town now, and if you live in a big Australian city and go to where the Chinese people live, you will have seen these karaoke booths. Here is an entire store filled with them. I paid my money and sung the milkshake song by kellis, not too many words to remember.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - And here is my very late lunch, Sandwich and salad. It was very good, the balsamic dipping sauce thing was excellent.

And here is my very late lunch, Sandwich and salad. It was very good, the balsamic dipping sauce thing was excellent.


The fragrant hills are well worth the visit, especially if you want some exercise, but dont want to get lost. It is easy to get to on public transport and cheap to enter. You dont need to remember to bring supplies of any kinds and it is chock full of high quality amenities. The main danger was bees. There were millions of them. The bigger slower louder kind. A few times I ran away screaming like a 10 year old girl trying to escape a deadly swarm of bees. If you ever hear that Chinese pollution has killed off the bees, tell them they are wrong, its breeding millions of the terrifying little bastards.
Also this is a new feature, more text under the pictures. My new page format I re invented yet again allows me to place additional elements such as this anywhere. I have some other new features I am yet to use yet, are you excited for what they might be???

An uncomplicated exchange

Collecting train tickets from Beijing station

I will be taking 6 high speed rail journeys while in China. Tickets sell out, and you can only book one month in advance. To do this from overseas you need to use a travel agent, a Chinese website, what could go wrong? The tickets themselves are quite cheap, but if for whatever reason the website was just pretending to order tickets for me and taking my money, there would be no trains left to book once I found out I was being scammed.
When you buy tickets, ahead of the 30 day window, they take your money, and presumably someone exactly 30 days before each journey you have booked logs into a website and orders your tickets.
For nearly every one of my 6 journeys I missed getting a booking on the train of my choice, alternatives were suggested, and then I would log into their online chat and type nonsense to 'Cherry' who would adjust my booking based on availability.
You also have to send them a scan of your passport for this service, send it to a Chinese government owned travel agent, they would never use my passport for any other purpose surely? I guess they already had it when I sent it to them to get a Chinese visa glued into it.

Anyway, tonight was the night I went to the train station with a piece of paper with 6 numbers on it and my passport and hoped this whole thing would get me 6 tickets. It did, and there were no problems at all, it took all of 30 seconds once I made it to the front of the chaotic line.

The great loop of China - April 2018 - This is a modern Beijing apartment building. It looks like London or Paris, only they are not limited to exactly 5 levels.

This is a modern Beijing apartment building. It looks like London or Paris, only they are not limited to exactly 5 levels.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - The formal ballroom dancers have arrived. I cut in and took the next dance, it was my lucky day, the foxtrot. I excel at the foxtrot.

The formal ballroom dancers have arrived. I cut in and took the next dance, it was my lucky day, the foxtrot. I excel at the foxtrot.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Here is a humble office building, glowing in the afternoon haze.

Here is a humble office building, glowing in the afternoon haze.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - And here it is. Beijing station. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. This is the central Beijing station, the only old stat

And here it is. Beijing station. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.
This is the central Beijing station, the only old station without a high speed service. Only the slow trains to places I am not allowed to go to come here (Russia, Mongolia, North Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Tibet etc). Kim Jung-un's train came here with him on it the other week.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - I came to Beijing station to make my ticket exchange. The line experience in a Chinese train station is about as you would expect. I told a few line c

I came to Beijing station to make my ticket exchange. The line experience in a Chinese train station is about as you would expect. I told a few line cutters that they were a disgrace to their country and culture, as I grabbed them and pushed them back behind me.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Sea of thieves. Not joking really, there is a huge police presence at this station. I made it out fine! The pedestrian bridges over the highway are fu

Sea of thieves. Not joking really, there is a huge police presence at this station. I made it out fine! The pedestrian bridges over the highway are full of beggars and people playing that game with 3 cards where you have to guess which one is the ace or whatever. You can also buy lasers to shine at aircraft from some random Russian dude who asks you if you perhaps also want a Kalashinikov?


The great loop of China - April 2018 - I fled the scary station and headed into Beijings gay district. I assume thats what the rainbow means?

I fled the scary station and headed into Beijings gay district. I assume thats what the rainbow means?


The great loop of China - April 2018 - This took me to the modern SoHo area. These are mostly little restaurants. Its a very nice place.

This took me to the modern SoHo area. These are mostly little restaurants. Its a very nice place.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - A bit more of SoHo, its an integrated commercial, retail, residential community with no cars.

A bit more of SoHo, its an integrated commercial, retail, residential community with no cars.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - I selected a small place for my $4 dinner, and here is the beef! It was pretty good too, excellent quality noodles.

I selected a small place for my $4 dinner, and here is the beef! It was pretty good too, excellent quality noodles.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - It was late by now, but I walked along the main road past all the huge modern malls. I still have never properly been to this part of Beijing and it l

It was late by now, but I walked along the main road past all the huge modern malls. I still have never properly been to this part of Beijing and it looks like I will run out of time on this visit too!


The great loop of China - April 2018 - But I did get to the pants building. A great feature of my camera is the screen folds out, which I never use for its intended purpose, instead it work

But I did get to the pants building. A great feature of my camera is the screen folds out, which I never use for its intended purpose, instead it works as a make shift tripod for long exposures.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Last photo for tonight, a tall modern building. Came out quite well for hand held. Unlike the pants building, this one was very brightly lit.

Last photo for tonight, a tall modern building. Came out quite well for hand held. Unlike the pants building, this one was very brightly lit.


There are currently 10 comments - click to add

David on 2018-04-18 said:

You can see foreigners in the great wall photos. Beijing has lots of foreign businessmen also.
I am leaving Beijing on Friday and will then go to Zhengzhou where I dont expect to see any, Xian will have lots for the Teracotta warriors, but then Chongqing, Wuhan and Hangzhou will basically have none.


mother on 2018-04-18 said:

I have yet to see any foreigners in your photos. Are they all in Japan? Also would like to see some old dilapidated areas, if there are any left.


David on 2018-04-18 said:

my bad, you rushed me, its fixed now....


mother on 2018-04-18 said:

why are all the photos the same


David on 2018-04-18 said:

I dont really like the font anymore either. I cant distinguish commas and full stops on my screen, its also too light. I will probably play with it tomorrow when I have a bit more time, its late for me now, almost 10:30pm!


Jenny on 2018-04-18 said:

Font looks good to me - i can read it!


bobule on 2018-04-18 said:

not entirely sold on the font you are using and also WHERE IS THE BEEF???


Brian on 2018-04-18 said:

Did you purchase a plastic head band with flowers also?


David on 2018-04-18 said:

It is much cleaner than I remember. The dirty places are building sites, or anything thats sitting derelict. but they have done a better job of hiding those things. The new subway construction is a good example, it used to just be big holes in the middle of the streets, but now they have put big painted sheds over it while its being constructed so there is no noise or dust. There are bins absolutely everywhere which is surprising.


adriana on 2018-04-18 said:

I would like to see comment boxes under each photo as I forget what I wanted to say by the time I get to the end.

Meanwhile, I am very impressed with the cleanliness of all the places you have photographed. Is it really like that everywhere? Apart from the air that is of course.



Day 6 - Thursday, 19 April 2018

The bus debacle illegal taxi comedy show

Getting to Mangshan on public transport

Three funny things happened today so strap in, wall of text to follow.

First of all, there were a lot transport debacles. I had selected a spot to go, Mangshan which is near the Ming Tombs about 50km out of Beijing.
This required 3 subways, and then a bus. The subway was fine, some people might complain about the very long transfers, but at least you know it will be coming. The bus however, is anyones guess. The internet said bus 888, how fortuitous, how could it let me down? It did.

There is no more bus 888, me and some locals were equally confused by this, but luckily I can read the map on the bus stops and eventually decided that bus 886 would go to where I wanted to go.
I was now proud that I had figured that out for myself and was helping the locals. There isnt just one bus stop on each street in China, there are generally 20 or so grouped along a section of street, each with about 10 different buses coming to each one. So when anything changes, its chaos.

Anyway, we all stood waiting for bus 886, it came, but it had a symbol next to it, the driver kicked everyone off, that one is returning to the depot, now the real fun started. A local illegal taxi driver knows the new schedule, and started telling everyone that no more bus 886 would come, and we should get a ride with him to Mangshan. He picked on me the most, thats when I started chatting to him. The punch line to my comedy routine had everyone laughing out loud, even the driver was trying to hide his laughter at me, I said to him 'I afraid of taxi driver, they are all scary ghost men, try to steal my money! Except I have no money! Then because no money taxi driver kidnap me, take me to village, try to make me marry daughter!'.

Eventually the right bus came, and to Mangshan we went, I left my new friends behind at the bottom, and bounded up some steps to enjoy the view. Todays view was pollution and cloud, so there wasnt much to see, but there were a lot of steps.
The top of this mountain is some kind of resort you can drive to, so there were people there who didnt bound up China's longest staircase (according to a sign I saw!). A group of middle aged women sipping hot water at the top in their arctic survival outfits were very interested in me.

One of the woman spoke decent English, so she would ask me questions in English, I would answer in Mandarin, everyone would giggle, I had another audience. Questions were about how old I am, am I married, how come I can climb so fast, are all Australians so fit etc. Anyway, I took out my water and started to drink it before going back down, next thing I know auntie pulls out her packet of tissues, takes one out, and starts wiping my brow!

My final ridiculous unexplainable story was on the bus ride back. The bus went into the depot to refuel or change drivers or something, at this stage I wasnt sure why we went to the depot, I wasnt worried it was very close to the subway anyway. Then the driver was insisting I come with him, smiling and motioning for me to follow. I guess other people wouldnt follow a bus driver into a small office in a Chinese bus depot beyond the edge of town, but I can run pretty fast. Anyway before I knew it he had got a guy who was either the depot manager or the local triad boss, and I was standing in between them posing for photos for no apparent reason!

The great loop of China - April 2018 - This is the end of the line for the subway, but its actually a different city called Changping. It had a huge number of bakeries, I indulged in a cake

This is the end of the line for the subway, but its actually a different city called Changping. It had a huge number of bakeries, I indulged in a cake before starting my bus stop comedy routine.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - I am constantly amazed at how many public toilets there are in Beijing, and also signs pointing you towards them, they are just about on every corner.

I am constantly amazed at how many public toilets there are in Beijing, and also signs pointing you towards them, they are just about on every corner. Here I am out in a farming orchard, and a brand new toilet block has appeared. It is the only building for hundreds of metres in any direction (I was taking a short cut).


The great loop of China - April 2018 - My short cut took me around the back of this huge reservoir, apparently the main one for drinking water for Beijing.

My short cut took me around the back of this huge reservoir, apparently the main one for drinking water for Beijing.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - It has an island with a pagoda on it. There is a big fence all the way around it to prevent me from swimming out to the island.

It has an island with a pagoda on it. There is a big fence all the way around it to prevent me from swimming out to the island.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - After at least 3 hours of travel, I had found my park! CLIMBING STEPS! Other signs told me it was the longest set of climbing steps in China. I dont k

After at least 3 hours of travel, I had found my park! CLIMBING STEPS! Other signs told me it was the longest set of climbing steps in China. I dont know what that means though.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Before starting the climb, it was time to play Mario kart rainbow road stage at the Buddhist temple.

Before starting the climb, it was time to play Mario kart rainbow road stage at the Buddhist temple.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - And here is the fat Buddha, celebrating diversity with his love of homosexuals and their rainbows. Actually for whatever reason it was the first annua

And here is the fat Buddha, celebrating diversity with his love of homosexuals and their rainbows. Actually for whatever reason it was the first annual Holland windmill festival? Those are the destination mountains for today in the background.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Thats a bit more of Buddha, he told me to hurry up and climb the damn mountain.

Thats a bit more of Buddha, he told me to hurry up and climb the damn mountain.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - I progressed through the rainbow umbrella tunnel...

I progressed through the rainbow umbrella tunnel...


The great loop of China - April 2018 - ...and arrived at the amusement park. More windmills.

...and arrived at the amusement park. More windmills.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - At first there was a false start, I found some wooden stairs but they were closed off. But then I found the real climbing stairs! Like the great wall

At first there was a false start, I found some wooden stairs but they were closed off. But then I found the real climbing stairs! Like the great wall there were a few work groups doing team building here today.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - I heard a rumor that the view is great on a clear day.

I heard a rumor that the view is great on a clear day.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - That is the resort area at the top where I talked to middle aged women who insisted on wiping the sweat from my overly large forehead.

That is the resort area at the top where I talked to middle aged women who insisted on wiping the sweat from my overly large forehead.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - This is why the wooden step path was closed, still under construction. There is no cable car today, rare for China!

This is why the wooden step path was closed, still under construction. There is no cable car today, rare for China!


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Hiking info is hard to come by, but wherever I see hills I see little huts on the top like this. It seems hard to get to most of them. That one is out

Hiking info is hard to come by, but wherever I see hills I see little huts on the top like this. It seems hard to get to most of them. That one is outside of the fenced off area for the park that I am in.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - I thought that pagoda looking thing in the distance would be my destination today when I was squinting up through the fog and smog from the bottom, bu

I thought that pagoda looking thing in the distance would be my destination today when I was squinting up through the fog and smog from the bottom, but subsequent investigations reveal it to be a fire spotting tower, off limits.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Here is a cat, there were actually 3 cats and a Chinese girl feeding them cat food. They were very happy cats.

Here is a cat, there were actually 3 cats and a Chinese girl feeding them cat food. They were very happy cats.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - I even got lost exiting this park, following the grand pathway down to a series of less grand rocky trails thinking they would lead somewhere. They di

I even got lost exiting this park, following the grand pathway down to a series of less grand rocky trails thinking they would lead somewhere. They did not, I had to loop back to the parking lot and go out the only entrance back to the bus.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Back to the satellite city and I went to a different bakery, there really were at least 10, and bought a delicious sandwich. I went hiking up somethin

Back to the satellite city and I went to a different bakery, there really were at least 10, and bought a delicious sandwich.
I went hiking up something every single day I was in Beijing!


Fun running race but I cant join in

Walking round Tiananmen Square at night

For my last evening in Beijing I thought I would return to Tiananmen square. Everyone goes there, I went there in 2011, you can line up to see embalmed Chairman Mao if you want. Tonight it was closed off.

You could still get near it to take photos, but not into the actual square. Even getting into the road alongside it required airport style security, and all locals have to scan their ID to enter. They know exactly who is in there at all times.
I was actually a bit worried when I got to the front of the line and realised they were doing ID checks, you are supposed to carry your passport, I never do, heres where I get arrested I thought. Instead they just waved me straight through. It seems at Tiananmen square they are only concerned about locals. Also I dont look like a radical student.

Afterwards I explored the now much larger shopping and dining district directly behind the main square, called Qianmen. This was under construction when I was last here, its now completed and huge, and great. Its all fake new made to look old, but its a very nice place to be, I recommend it.
I wandered away from here slightly to find my dinner in a neighbourhood hutong. The menu here as you will see, is all the standards. If you want to know what real Chinese food is, study this menu, this is what people eat every night in Beijing unless they go to a noodle place, anyway I digress.

I walked into this place and sat down and ordered from the pictures on the lit up wall. My meal came, I ate it, I go to pay. The guy isnt there, but theres a huge wad of cash on the counter under a rock. He notices me, comes out of the kitchen, I pay my $3, he gives me change from the wad of cash, puts the rock back on top, and goes back into the kitchen. I found this amazing. It was a couple of inches of cash, probably the entire days takings.

The great loop of China - April 2018 - On my way to Tiananmen square I passed the Crowne Plaza hotel, normally this big sign has the menu for the night on it, right now me and lots of inter

On my way to Tiananmen square I passed the Crowne Plaza hotel, normally this big sign has the menu for the night on it, right now me and lots of interested local delivery drivers are watching somebody update a spreadsheet. Accountants everywhere are wishing they could do similar, perhaps its time for SPREADSHEET STADIUM!


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Now I am in London. This place is 8 levels high.

Now I am in London. This place is 8 levels high.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - I remembered this garden from last time I was here. Still here, still great. This photo was taken right at dusk, hence the funky lighting.

I remembered this garden from last time I was here. Still here, still great. This photo was taken right at dusk, hence the funky lighting.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - Here is the security line to enter the square. There was security everywhere.

Here is the security line to enter the square. There was security everywhere.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - On my way under the road I saw the changing of the guard. I wasnt sure if I could take a photo but locals were following along taking video. Blurry vi

On my way under the road I saw the changing of the guard. I wasnt sure if I could take a photo but locals were following along taking video. Blurry vision photo, dont bother loading the large version.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - And this is as close as I can get to the square today. Why was it closed? I cant be sure, but the army was having a night time sports day inside, a ru

And this is as close as I can get to the square today. Why was it closed? I cant be sure, but the army was having a night time sports day inside, a running race in full uniform. Some soldiers were cheering others on, the runners really seemed to be trying hard.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - More square. I couldnt tell who won the race, but they seemed very happy! None of this translated into photos at all. I wanted to run a lap though!

More square. I couldnt tell who won the race, but they seemed very happy! None of this translated into photos at all. I wanted to run a lap though!


The great loop of China - April 2018 - The entrance to Qianmen shopping street.

The entrance to Qianmen shopping street.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - The area now extends to various side streets, last time I was here these were all closed for refurbishment.

The area now extends to various side streets, last time I was here these were all closed for refurbishment.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - I passed an art auction. I get the feeling it was all staged to lure tourists. The auction was being conducted in English.

I passed an art auction. I get the feeling it was all staged to lure tourists. The auction was being conducted in English.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - A bit more of the main shopping street here.

A bit more of the main shopping street here.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - This area has some western stores now (H&M, Zara), but the main places are still like this, very Chinese, mostly junk. Also theres lots of cafes, rest

This area has some western stores now (H&M, Zara), but the main places are still like this, very Chinese, mostly junk. Also theres lots of cafes, restaurants, bubble tea, bakeries. So many bakeries.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - I dont remember this street from last time, it runs off the side of the main one for many miles. I followed it all the way into a hutong (old neighbou

I dont remember this street from last time, it runs off the side of the main one for many miles. I followed it all the way into a hutong (old neighbourhood).


The great loop of China - April 2018 - The further you went the older looking the new buildings became.

The further you went the older looking the new buildings became.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - I selected a restaurant, it was one of about 5 similar places adjacent to each other where a number of laneways met. Ordering was easy, not only are t

I selected a restaurant, it was one of about 5 similar places adjacent to each other where a number of laneways met. Ordering was easy, not only are their pictures, but theres English. I was surprised there was English.


The great loop of China - April 2018 - I chose what I thought was the healthiest thing, scrambled eggs with leeks and chilli. Theres also a bit of black fungus. I added a lot of chilli and

I chose what I thought was the healthiest thing, scrambled eggs with leeks and chilli. Theres also a bit of black fungus. I added a lot of chilli and black vinegar, it was delicious.


Tomorrow I go to Zhengzhou, where I have not been before. Beijing was excellent, I used all the time on all my days here. I could easily fill another week. Every day I ran out of time, and had no time at all to relax, just the way I like it!

There are currently 2 comments - click to add

David on 2018-04-20 said:

There are 3 common ways to say toilet
Wei Sheng Jian 卫生间 (guard body room)
Xi Shou Jian 洗手间 (Wash hands room)
Ce suo 厕所 (toilet)

As for men or women, generally they have the same globally universal symbols, but some places will have -
nan 男 (man)
nu 女 (woman)

Australian airports will have 卫生间 on their toilets to help Chinese people.
I assume most of this is the same in Japanese.
I have no idea if my website will allow comments with Chinese characters, time to find out!


mother on 2018-04-19 said:

I want to see some photos of you with the grandmas.

Also what are the chinese character for toilet and how do we tell which is the men's and women's. Shopping street looks worth a visit.



On page 3 I move cities to Zhengzhou, I dont know what I am going to be doing there yet!

Contents

Day 0 - Saturday, 16 March 2019
  Retrospective
Day 1 - Saturday, 14 April 2018
  The long winded getaway
  Projectile vomit boy
Day 2 - Sunday, 15 April 2018
  Pollen count
  Walking too far eating too much
Day 3 - Monday, 16 April 2018
  A really long journey to a really big wall
  The Mongolian spicy cold noodle denial
Day 4 - Tuesday, 17 April 2018
  The west lake of the northern capital
  Gentrification
Day 5 - Wednesday, 18 April 2018
  The bee filled mountain of many amenities
  An uncomplicated exchange
Day 6 - Thursday, 19 April 2018
  The bus debacle illegal taxi comedy show
  Fun running race but I cant join in
Day 7 - Friday, 20 April 2018
  From the old to the new old
  The most China of places I have ever been
Day 8 - Saturday, 21 April 2018
  Everybody was kung fu fighting the rain
  The new old is new again
Day 9 - Sunday, 22 April 2018
  Windwalker
  Named in my honor
Day 10 - Monday, 23 April 2018
  How to make a short train ride really long
  The grandest scale
Day 11 - Tuesday, 24 April 2018
  Everybody can get fogged
  Shining beacons of ancient
Day 12 - Wednesday, 24 April 2018
  Pottery barn
  The other great wall
Day 13 - Thursday, 26 April 2018
  Around the bottom of the wall
  The first of the three long journeys
Day 14 - Friday, 27 April 2018
  The mountain city
  I have succumbed
Day 15 - Saturday, 28 April 2018
  Massive Renewal
  I am very good at dancing
Day 16 - Sunday, 29 April 2018
  Sick polluted and awesome
  The crush for the view
Day 17 - Monday, 30 April 2018
  Tales from a moving train
  Monday night madness
Day 18 - Tuesday, 1 May 2018
  Not the west lake
  Wanda world
Day 19 - Wednesday, 2 May 2018
  Revolutionary tower poetry
  The not so shiny and the not so new
Day 20 - Thursday, 3 May 2018
  The long view of the amazing blue
  And now for the view
Day 21 - Friday, 4 May 2018
  Lap completed
  The old hole
Day 22 - Saturday, 5 May 2018
  Complete waste of a day
  Resurrection of the day
Day 23 - Sunday, 6 May 2018
  Last day of boring train photos
  Fully bunded area
Day 24 - Monday, 7 May 2018
  The subway to the ancient water town
  The main drag
Day 25 - Tuesday, 8 May 2018
  Botanists delight
  The old side from the new side became more of the new side
Day 26 - Wednesday, 9 May 2018
  Every single park and garden
  I found another park
Day 27 - Thursday, 10 May 2018
  The maglev update
  The end