Beijing Part I - A City of Skyscrapers
The apartment blocks are similar to the ones in Korea, just a lot taller. When I see buildings like this I think back to the tallest building in Adelaide, the Santos building, which has only 27 floors. Many of the apartment blocks in China are more than double that.
Our hotel was the Traders Hotel in Guomao which was very nice. We took a package to Beijing that included airfares and accommodation for three nights for $700 each. Originally the price was $500 but then the travel agent mysteriously inflated the price. It was still a good deal though. I'd recommend this hotel to anyone who can get a decent price because it was very comfortable and centrally located.
Slightly famished, we sought a regular restaurant to grab a bite to eat. When travelling overseas I always enjoy eating at cheap local places. The waiters in the red coats at this restaurant were busy seating customers who were flowing in and out like baitfish. We were seated on the same table as a Chinese family which was interesting.
This bar was quite nice, pricey by Chinese standards, but average when compared to Korea. The good thing about it was that it had continuous live entertainment, including belly dancers and this band which was quite good. The guy on the left sang 'One Night in Beijing'. How very appropriate.
After a couple of drinks we wandered out onto the streets where the crowds had died down a little. Up the road was this long line of street vendors selling all kinds of food for as far as the eye could see. Street food in Beijing is more varied than that in Korea.
Then we caught a taxi home. From my experiences, crime in Korea is so low that it's something I barely think about. People will steal things of course, but I've never felt threatened late at night. Beijing has a slightly different feel to it, which was very evident in this taxi. The driver was encased in a virtual prison to prevent people from robbing him. Not all of the taxis we caught had this kind of fortification though.
The next day we woke up early to head to the Great Wall. While we were trying to figure out the bus route, we bought some meat-filled buns for breakfast from this place. They were fairly average, but were filling and only cost us 45 cents each. I love travelling cheaply.
Check out the wad of cash in the street vendors right hand. I saw this a lot in Beijing, huge wads of cash being pulled out whenever change was needed. I'm not sure if they did it out of necessity or to show off, but I was certainly impressed. I added it up in my head and realised that a handful of money like that only works out to be about $50. But that can still buy you a lot of stuff if you shop at the right places. I'll show you some bargains in the next post.
See you soon!