Tuesday, March 29, 2016

China/Korea 2009: day 7 (Beijing)

Beijing day 4: Saturday 10/4/09
Map of my Beijing stops, this day in purple; here are the photos from today. Yellow highlights in the text correspond to flags on the map.

At lunch the day before, my Great Wall buddies told me that when they visited the Forbidden City, they hired an English-speaking tour guide outside the gates. Basically you pay for their admittance and a set fee for their time. They told me they had a great experience so I figured I'd try the same. There are lots of unofficial guides outside waiting for tourists and who knows what you'll get. My guy took me on a tour that only lasted about 2 hours and only showed me maybe a third of the place. He also took me to a "special" store where one of two nephews of the last Emperor (who would be the Emperor if they still had one) had an office where, as he's a noted calligraphy artist, I could get a "deal" on something custom made. I spent a little more than I wanted but did get something nice looking. But after that my guide left me and I had no maps, only my guide book (for some reason they didn't have maps or audio guides inside, only outside). 

I spent another 3 hours on my own doing the rest of the tour. As it was my last day in Beijing, I opted to do the Temple of Heaven over the Summer Palace due to travel distance. That was about a half hour cab ride, which gave me under 2 hours to see it all (it closed at 6pm). I did, however, rent the audio tour, which was GPS-based and would automatically start when you got to the right location, and kept track of which spots you'd been to. I exited the park on the west side and the metro stop is on the east, so I had to take a cab (my feet were hurting and cabs are cheap). The plan was to go to Makye Ame, a Tibetan restaurant (in what I didn't realize until later is the embassy section of the city), so I took the #5 to the #1 and got out at the Yonganli station. However, right there was the Silk Street Market, a 4-story building that's a haggler's delight, with everything from real stuff to knockoffs, at any price range. I got a couple of silk shirts there and after checking the place out, I was too tired to go down to Makye Ame so I hit up Café Flat White right outside, a New Zealand restaurant, for some pizza. Cab back to the hotel.

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