I like to ride my bicycle . . .
06.11.2006 29 °C
After a very pleasant day and a half train ride from U-B, taking in part of the Gobi desert, I arrived in Beijing full of expectation and enthusiasm for sightseeing.This proved to be just as well because Beijing has a lot of sightseeing on offer!I took a taxi (ooh the luxury and indulgence!) to the hostel I was reliably informed was very good in the hutongs and checked into the same dorm my friend was staying in.When they returned from their sightseeing later that afternoon we took a walk down the street and enjoyed a superb and inexpensive meal sitting in the sundrenched alley.The following day I hired a traditional and almost fully working bike (well the back brake worked!) and braved the chaotic Beijing traffic as we cycled around Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City and into central Beijing.I was hugely impressed by the beauty of Beijing and taking a bike around the city was definately the way to see it.We stopped at a marketplace to have a look around and it was here I tried roasted scorpion for the first time.It was pleasant enough, no real taste but a crunchy texture to it anyway which was pretty good after a week of living off mutton and noodles.
When we returned to our hostel I was greeted by a call of "Alright gayboy" or something of a suitably derogatory nature by my mate adge who had just arrived on a later train from U-B.It was beer o'clock so we sat in the courtyard enjoying probably the cheapest beer I've ever drunk (7 pence a bottle!) and he filled me in on his story about a mad Dutch guy who had got off the train at a stop to take pictures and never got back on!He was last seen by someone chasing after the train.Late that night he arrived with his tale of woe and to collect his baggage that adge and another English guy carried to the hostel for him.I spent a couple of lazy days touring Beijing on my bike and eating and drinking to my hearts content.Then it was time for some serious sightseeing so on the 8th Aug me and adge visited Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.It was a weird feeling to be in Tiananmen which was a place of such positive and negative events in the countrys history.From the proclamation of the Peoples Republic of China to the Massacre in 1989, the square has been witness to both China's past glory and shame.The Forbidden City was absolutely huge and rammed with tourists.It was a great feeling to be in such a historic and important place as this and you could imagine daily life within the city walls long ago.One of my favourite parts was the rock garden in the north of the city where the Emporer would sit and choose girls for his harem.It must've been a tough life being Emporer of China!