We were up at the very early hour of 5.30am to catch the train from Ulaanbaatar to Beijing. As we were walking to the station we were wondering if it was going to be easy to find the platform that our train was leaving from as there were no information boards on show but we needn’t have worried as the waiting room was full of Westerners all holding tickets for Beijing so when one got up we all followed.
We were hoping that we might have the luck of the French couple and have a cabin to ourselves but we ended up sharing with a couple called Phil and Sarah from good old England, they were very nice and in the middle of taking 2 years out to travel.
Thank goodness the journey was only 1.5 days this time as we were dreading another long train journey. Time flew quite quickly we were through both borders in no time.
We arrived in Beijing around 14.00 and Phil and Sarah were also getting the Metro to their hostel so we all managed to make our way on to the underground together and we said goodbye to them as they got off one stop before us.
Once we were off at our stop we headed to find our hostel and managed to do OK as the street names had the English translation underneath, which is good of them.
We checked in and dumped our bags and could not wait to head out.
Being in Beijing is nothing like you can imagine, you can’t get a feel for this place from seeing it on TV. The colours, sights, smells and the bustling people make for an amazing experience. We walked down every little back street we could see and it was just how we had imagined it would be.
We toured the Forbidden City today, unfortunately pictures do not do it any justice. We were there for an afternoon and probably only saw a third of it. It seemed to go on forever and you can imagine that the rooms have not changed since the last emperor lived there. It was the imperial palace for 24 emperors during the Ming and Quing dynasties and was first built during the 14 year reign of Emperor Chengzu in the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). It was forbidden to enter without special permission of the emperor. Hence the name 'The Forbidden City'.
We found the Donghuamen Street Food market and went to investigate. They sell almost anything on a stick you can think of, snake, sheep penis, centipede, sea horses and silkworms.
We decided to be brave and had a stick of scorpions and a stick of crickets. They actually just tasted like crispy chicken skin. We then had some deep fried crab that was shell and everything but we didn’t like that.
For dinner we decided to try one of the restaurants and we ordered a chicken dish and a pork dish and I can only say that there was more bone than meat and nothing like a western Chinese meal. We may not be so adventurous tomorrow!