Woo! Arrived in Beijing yesterday - after an 'interesting' few first hours on our train from Yichang. It was delayed by 4 hours, so we did what any sane person would do - dropped our bags and ran to the nearest bar. After one excruciatingly extrotionate beer in one establishment, we moved onto another place that was decorated like a ranforest, and then proceeded get told off for taking a photo of the both of us... 't was very bizarre! When we returned to the station there were hundreds of people buzzing around waiting for the gates to open, with an atmosphere less like a train station than a riot. Somehow we managed to get manoeuvre us and our packs nearer to the gates, and be some of the first onto our carriage to secure our seats. The train moved off after a while, and an extremely irritating woman, who didn't have a seating ticket, flirted her way into getting a seat on our row at the expense of us. She later pulled out what looked to me like a withered elongated baby's hand, and started chewing on the fingertips, nails and all! It turned out to be a chicken leg, but it didn't stop us from feeling any less nauseous! After a few sleepless hours, finally at 5 am we managed to upgrade to a hard sleeper, and arrived in the capital around 5 the next day. The city definitely feels like much more of an international city, though no less modern than the other Chinese cities we have visited.
Today we went along to Tianamen square, slap-bang in the centre, and is a massive expanse of pavement, with various monuments and museums dotted around it, loads and loads of people flying kites, and a gigantic portrait of Mao on Tianamen Gate. We then visited the Forbidden City, a massive area right in the centre of Beijing where the Emperors of the dynasties resided, up until Sun Yatsen overthrew the Qing dynasty in 1911. The detail on the buildings is astonishing, with elaborately carved gargoyle type things and intricate interiors, and the scale of the place is amazing!
We've just returned back to our hostel after getting hopelessly lost around the hutong - Beijing's narrow alleyways, and are about to go back out to find nutrition a a few beers.
Ooh Nico has just arrived to tell me that we're going to have a meal with some Dutch people, sounds good, gotta go!