Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Beijing, part 4: Evening, Morning

Beijing has a lot more pagoda temples than Shanghai. Is this a Tibetan Buddhist influence via the Mongols? Yeah, must be.

With Chunlin's brother Jason and his daughter Apple, we went to dinner in the heart of the old part of Beijing, in the proverbial shadow of the Drum Tower.
q60 - Drum Tower
"Proverbial" in the sense that there might be a shadow if Beijing wasn't in a perpetual overcast of smog.

The restaurant was an old-fashioned style chaotic Chinese restaurant. Get your food at the counter and then fight for a seat. We had to wait ten minutes or longer for a table, even after we had our food. Oh, you're leaving soon? Can we set our food on your table until you finish your dinner? Thanks!

The restaurant next door had plenty of empty tables. I guess our restaurant was a better deal.

We then drove a short distance and took a walk around Hou Hai ("hai" meaning "lake").
q66 - Chunlin, Jason, and Apple

q62 - Hou Hai

q72 - Lotus Lamps at Hou Hai

q68 - Music Everywhere
Bars and restaurants galore. Music -- live music and karaoke -- poured forth. Budweiser and Carlsberg were the advertising beers of choice.

q69 - Lights Everywhere

I'd pause for a time-lapse photo. We'd all pause for Apple to dance to a song.
q63 - Walking along Hou Hai

About halfway around the lake, we realized we had to hurry. Jason had told the car park attendant we'd only be gone 40 minutes.

We got back on the expressway, picked up Chunyu near the embassy area of town, then Jason drove us home to Tongzhou. Our first day's tour of Beijing was thus ended.

The next morning, we took the bus into town with Chunyu's wife, Yufang.
r4 - Chunlin and Yüfang

Rain the night before meant a bit of blue in the sky in the morning, a bit of sunshine.

r3 - Běijīng Bus Stop
Once you're on a bus, the signs have English, but not when you're standing on the street! By the end of the week, I was able to recognize some characters, comparing against my map and guidebook, and take a guess at bus stop signs, but certainly not this early in the trip.

Sitting on the bus, sitting on the bus, sitting on the bus. The bus sits on the road. Half hour? Hour? It could have been worse. I could have been standing. Chunlin and Yufang told me to sit because I took the most space. Two backpacks in my lap.

As we inched closer to town, though, the skies turn grayer. I wasn't sure I wanted this commute for sight-seeing for the rest of the week. Jingtong Expressway entrance. Creep creep crawl.

We passed under the Fifth Ring Road and also the Sihui East subway station. Where were we going? Surely the subway was quicker than this. What was wrong with that station?

r5 - Crossing the 4th Ring Road
Eventually we passed the Fourth Ring Road. And another subway station...

The bus stopped near the third subway station on the 1 line. We crowded down the sidewalk, crowded into the station, and crowded onto the train. Soon we were moving right along, much faster than the bus on the expressway. Six stops later, we were at the center of the known universe.

More photos from around Hou Hai are on flickr.

No comments: