Today I decided to go to the drum and bell towers in an area known for its twisted maze of hutongs (back alleys). When I arrived at the railway station I started to walk in the wrong direction in my rush to get away from the hawker trying to get me to go in a rickshaw for a hutong tour, but luckily when he came and asked me again if I wanted one and I said I wanted to walk he told me I should walk the other way if I wanted to see the drum tower.
On arrival at the drum tower I had to play with the grunt and point dialogue to try and work out where to find tickets and must have been about 15 minutes late to see a drum performance but I climbed up the insanely steep stairs anyway (pics to come) and had a look at the drums and a few other time keeping inventions whcih were pretty cool.
I eventually gave in to the request for a hutong tour but got a bit ripped off (although I did barter the price down) and the dude kept stopping at all these places and making me get off and go through. I wouldn't have minded if they had a purpose but one of them was just some ones shop, nothing special just groceries... weird? and I had to pay another 20Y to have a look at someone s original courtyard style house. Which was pretty cool but I reckon I know how they paid for all the flash furnishings, al those unsuspecting hutong tourists...
My driver (pedaller) must have been feeling a bit tired as he stopped the ricksahwa nd then walked me another 800 m or before pointing to a few morethings and saying goodbye... not sure why he couldn't ride the rest of the way.
I walked a bit more around the area nd then headed back to Wanfujing for some lunch and back to the hotel for a little rest in my new room (I had changed to a self contained room as booked for the night before the tour.
I headed down to the bar for some internet time and was going to sit withmy book and a beer hoping to find the few people I knew would be floating around for my tour and got talking to a couple of girls at the bar who were on the tour.
Wethen headed out with a guy they had met the night before and some new friends he had made (i love backpackers hostels) to a street the bartender had suggested as hopping with bars and had written down the name for us. I had guessed where we might be going but no one asked the guy to tell us as well as write it down and so our taxis just kind of deposited us in the middle of nowhere, maybe it wasn't written down so well...
We did find a little bar that felt a bit out of alice in wonderland or the hobbit as they directed us upstairs into a crazily decorated tiny room (my head hit the roof) complete with television and dvds (chinese or a cranberries documentray).
After a few drinks and a comedy of errors - the barnam coudln't open the beers, and a "chief pizza" barely the size of a bread and butter plate with a pool of tomato sauce in the middle of it, we picked a place out of the guidebook and proceeded to look for taxis who would take us there. LESSON - not all atxi drivers in Beijing know Beijing very well, difference bewteen them and the Australian ones who just bluff is they look at your destination and then shake their hand and drive away. Ater a few dud tries we foudn one and conviced him to let us sneak a fifth person in on the laps of the three in the back seat and headed to this place lauded in the guide book.
When we arrived we thought we'd found another taxi driver who just dmped us wherever we wanted but then we saw on a backalley door the name of the pub we were looking for and headed inside not realy sure what to expect. The entire interior of the pub was covered in writing (like the inside of a public toilet - yes the toilet was done too) and the beers were a third the price of the swish place we'd just been in. We made our selves comfrtable, pulled out the cards one of the other girls were carrying and taught each other new and old card games.
The music was good, english and recognisable to the 5 countries represented at our table, getting 5 big votes for good work. As the night progressed more foreigners found their way in to the pub and so a little socialising ensued, and then as the night got later the place started to remind me of the downunder bar in Bne back in my uni days with dancing on tables, chairs, the bar almost anything goes... no public liability insurance concerns here...I of course kept my feet firmly plamted on the ground although some random photos were snapped and the obligatory swapping of hats that often happens in places like this. I was ready to head home about 1 but was holding out hope that the place would clost at 2, and as two passed considered going by myself but one of the girls said we wold all go. Then the other one came over with new beers for everyone else (some polish people had arrived and the beer just kept miraculously appearing like magic when empty) and so they decided we'd stay a little bit longer, this kept going for quite some time until eventually I (having started to feel quite achey and ready for home )said I was going whether t was with or without the others and so we all headed home...
Today I think is the day I almost ruined the rest of my beijing trip... I was already not feeling a hundred percent and going through tissues fairly fast and stupidly decided not to wear thermal pants or top as I wasn't feeling too cold... (in the hostel) By the time I got back to the hostel I was definitely cold and starting to feel achey and I think it all went downhill from there.. And then of course being out till 4 in the morning certainly wouldn't have helped, by the end of the night my voice was quickly deteriorating and I didn't expect much for the morning.
We had planned to meet at 11am to head out to the Temple of Heaven but I wasn't sure who (if anyone) would show