Another late start.. hell, i don't have a job anymore so I figure what's the point of getting out of bed early! I've spent the last 10yrs getting out of bed super early and it is really quite nice to roll over and go back to sleep for another hour or so.
Anyway, got going and went down stairs to reception to find out where to go and how to go about it! Tour guiding is not the strong suit for this hotel (that is being kind).. I managed to get a map of the city and decided to chance it and just start walking and hope that I run into the Forbidden City. Conductor and Bookie had warned me before coming to Beijing that you really need a tour guide as getting around can be tricky.. Me being me, decided that they didn't know what they were talking about (even though they have visited Beijing before) and how hard could it be to get around a city?? After getting the map and the lack of information from reception, I was starting to regret my decision for not organising a tour guide and I will fully admit was feeling a bit apprehensive about walking and travelling around a city where not many people speak English and I speak only two words of Mandarin; hello and thankyou!
Took off, in the right direction (was quite proud of myself) and started walking along the road.. on my map the FC looked like a block maybe two on the map but was actually a good 2km down the road! About 500m down the road a uni student by the name of Chung Low (it sounds like that) ran into me and asked were was I from, what was I doing etc.. We started chatting and I found out that he was a fine arts uni student who was just going to the uni for awhile this morning.. I decided to bail him up (his English was excellent) and find out if he wanted to be my tour guide for the day and take me to the forbidden city, he agreed and I then had my very own guide (I'm very sure that I paid too much for his services today but I don't regret spending the money as I had no idea where I was going, how I went about it etc)
Half an hour later we made it to the FC and Tianammen Square.. My god, I have never, ever, seen so many people in one place at one time. We lined up for easily 45min (maybe even an hour) just to get tickets to get into the city.. It was absolutely nuts.. The city was amazing in size but now that I've seen it I wouldn't bother to line up for so long to see it again.. I'm glad I went but there were just TOO many people to make it even slightly bearable. Every time you wanted to take a photo you couldn't because of all of the people...
Chen Low took me to have noodles for lunch in this touristy area where they sell scorpions on a stick, starfish on a stick, sea-horse on a stick.. you name it you can eat it!! Anyway, I elected to not taste any of these delicacies and just stuck to boring old beef and noodles (which was very tasty).
Spent the afternoon at the Temple of Heaven just wandering around the gardens and enjoying the tranquility (after the FC it was nice to see trees and just relax). During our wanders we ran into a texan Cameron, who had purchased this shuttle cock/ hacky sack and was playing soccer with it. Chen Low and I joined the hacky sack/ soccer game and soon got chatting. Ended up Cameron joined us on our journey as we were next off to see an acrobatic show.
The acrobatic show was a traditional chinese acrobatic show and was just awesome!! The show had the girls twisting their bodies into weird pretzel shapes, jugglers, dancers... was just incredible. The finale was the "dome of death"-- you know the carnival trick when a dude gets on his motor bike and starts zooming around the spherical cage?? Anyway they ended up having 5 motorbikes in this sphere zooming around!!! Amazing... All i could think was the poor guy who got in the cage first how dizzy he must have been by the end!!
Awesome ending to an incredible first day in Beijing!