Beijing – We already told you some of the stories related to our “business trip” to Beijing. We had hoped to get out and see a market, or something interesting, but upon realising that we were unable to book into a hotel, our time was spent mostly at a Starbucks trying to figure out where we could go that evening.
Here are some of the things that we saw and did in Beijing during our short stay…
Beijing Subway Ticket
I sure do miss being in a city with a decent subway system. As we got to Beijing we had to switch from a train to the subway system. It feels like cities with subways are our kind of thing. In fact, being in Beijing kind of made us wonder why we had once again moved to a subway-less city. At least this won’t always be the case – Qingdao’s Metro System is said to be in operation sometime during 2014.
Beijing Street Art
Despite the rain, it was humid and hot in Beijing, so we were relieved to be dressed in lite clothes. Wearing make-up, flat ironing my hair, and wearing anything with sleeves would seem pointless in this eeky-yucky weather. This is “roughing it” season!!
Fortunately, the streets of Beijing contain plenty to keep you distracted.
Year of the Snake (2013)
We came across this interesting Budweiser special edition can for 2013: The ‘Chinese Zodiac’ Year of the Snake. It was a pretty interesting design. Funny how we found things like this in random, completely Chinese, grocery stores.
Thanks to Justin’s trusty navigation skills. We knew where we were the second we got out of the subway station. How does he do that? He points us in the right direction, and we start walking.
I love it!
We knew that we needed to head to the Sanlitun area because that was where most of the embassies are located. For this reason there were also many other foreigners out and about, FAR MORE than we ever see in Qingdao. For a change, hardly anyone stared at us, and instead we were looking at others!!
Sanlitun Bar Street is a short walk from Sanlitun, and it is famous for the various bars located there. Almost all foreigners in Beijing know this street, even the tourists who come here to see the Beijing Acrobatic Show. The street operates from the afternoon until 2am the following morning.
In our opinion, there were way too many sleazy bars in the Sanlitun area. There were people standing outside the bars trying to usher people inside – especially white people! We were told that had Justin been walking around there without me, he would have been bothered a lot more. I guess the wife+backpacks were a good thing, LOL! Excessive use of neon lights, cheesy singers, and people trying to lure you inside… No thanks! The most alarming thing for me was that many of the bars had glass windows, and inside I could see girls dancing on poles! Fortunately just a couple streets away, we found some decent restaurants and felt much more comfortable.
We came to this shopping centre, Sanlitan Village, and found a Starbucks inside. Thank goodness for clean, comfy, wifi enabled places to sit!! A traveller’s best friend!
Inside the Starbucks we rested for HOURS (unsuccessfully) looking for a place to sleep that night. This Starbucks had really made the most of their store by putting Chinese-inspired graffiti over the walls. They also created interesting lighting fixtures, like the one pictured above. A cage hanging over two light bulbs. The cage was filled with used bulbs which also lit up from the two new bulbs. Nice idea!
Around 10pm we decided to head out and find dinner. This place was a GEM!! Located in the heart of San Li Bar Street, Luga’s Villa is an excellent place to enjoy the night and eat some awesome tasting Mexican food served on their wooden deck. It was a cosy and friendly atmosphere, and on this particular night, that is exactly what we needed!
We ordered a few beers and some mexican food… Then settled in here for a few hours. The time that we spent here made this a place we would love to revisit someday again, perhaps on another trip to Beijing. To read about the crazy night that ended in us almost having to sleep on the streets, have a look at this blog post: Bergies in Beijing.
The following morning we were up early and had to hit the pavement in search of the South African Embassy. For those wondering what the current visa situation is: stay tuned! We will update you as soon as we have received news from the PSB or our school.
Bicycles for Hire
These are a great idea, and all cities should have them. You can hire a bicycle for a specific duration of time, using your ID card to check the bike out. The awesome thing is that you don’t need to return the bike to the same spot where you picked it up. You simply have to find a similar bike rack and park there, to bring your excursion to an end!
Walking around late at night, we noticed fridges like these on the open street. A man sitting beside them was preparing street food snacks, so all those late night party people can get a bite to eat and another drink/ refreshments on their way home, or even on their way to another bar. Over here you can buy and consume alcohol on the street, at any time of the day.
A typical Chinese “work vehicle”.
Sanlitun Street Art Display
Is that a melting moose?
At the train station
The adventure seeker in me wanted to stay in Beijing for a couple more days, but we needed to get back to Qingdao to submit my paperwork to the PSB. Besides that, it was clear that finding a place to stay – sans passport – was a huge task! We headed home on a overbooked train, managing to find seats most of the way back to our city.
Our stay in Beijing was short, crazy, and a huge test of faith.
It certainly was different to the last experience we had there.
Speak of which, check those the interesting sights that we have visited:
There may be some fun activities coming up for us in Beijing in the next couple of months.
More on that coming soon.