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9 Million Bicycles


View Two Pairs of Shoes on arianemeena's travel map.

I spent Monday afternoon cycling round the hutong (medieval alleys) north of the Forbidden City, which much more closely resembled the Beijing
I had been expecting; dusty narrow lanes crammed with food stalls, bikes and dogs.

I returned to my new hotel to meet my fellow tourists. The new group is a little demographically different to the previous- 13 girls, 2 boys (who can't quite believe their luck), a mix of Brits, Norwegians and Germans.
On Tuesday we had a trip to the Great Wall included- this time I embraced tourism and opted for the chairlift up and toboggan run down, once up those steps was enough.

Whilst the rest of the group did Tiananmen and the Forbidden City on Wednesday, I got up early to visit Chairman Mao. His mausoleum makes Lenin's look like a cardboard coffin from the Co-op. I was the only Westerner in my section of queue and this certainly isn't a tourist trap; the sense of reverence was even greater here than Moscow and many of the visitors bought yellow chrysanthemums to leave in the entrance hall. Mao is also in better shape than Lenin, which may be related to the smell of nail polish that saturates his chamber.

I enjoyed the freedom of a day to myself and fitted in the Olympic Park, Lama Buddhist temple, Confucius temple and Jingshan Park with its extraordinary views over the Forbidden City (only slightly marred by the ever present smog).

A trip to the Temple of Heaven rounded off our Beijing sightseeing; the surrounding park is frequented by retirees who spend their time playing cards, doing aerobics and playing mahjong.

I may have named my last entry 'The Last Train' but that was something of a misnomer as the best way to get anywhere in China is by sleeper. And so it was time to head back to Beijing Railway Station and board the Shanghai overnight service, a mere 14 hours away.

Posted by arianemeena 21:47 Archived in China

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