This is about the second day of our fourteen-day adventure. Thank you for taking time to read.
We checked out of City Line Hotel by 10am, leaving our seven pieces of luggage with the front desk.
According to Dalvin’ s research, Yu Yuan Tan (玉渊潭公园) is a 136.69 hectare park, famous during the Jin (金) Dynasty (1115-1234). I was the one who insisted on going there, for one reason alone: Cherry Blossom Festival!
Located to the northwest of the park was its cherry garden. Again, according to Dalvin’s research, 180 cherry trees were planted in the garden, as gifts from Japan last 1973. Today, over 3,000 cherry trees bloom from late March to early April.
Butt of Jokes
I have never been to Japan, and have never seen real cherry trees before, so you could just imagine how excited I was, months before our actual trip.
Only a few trees were blossoming, and we had to hunt for them.
From that moment on, whenever we saw trees with colorful blossoming flowers, Dalvin and George would point them out to me and say “Shanda, Cherry blossoms! More than what we saw in the park!”
We then took a cab to the Imperial Palace. The cab dropped us off the north exit, saying that we could enter through there. However, the Palace has a one way route beginning from the south gate (Tian An Men). It was too far for us to walk, and the only transportation there was an expensive tourist bus that charged us cny15 per person (php105) just to get to the entrance.
We rented an audio guide earphone unit, which automatically activates and talks when you reach a certain place. We just rented one, which George volunteered to listen to, and share with us out loud what each site was all about.
One day is not enough if you wish to visit the entire palace. We only limited ourselves to the main areas, and three hours was still not enough.
One Good Meal
Our first dinner in Beijing was supposed to be at Peking Duck Private Kitchen(果果私房烤鸭) at Chaoyang District. We hailed several cabs around 6pm, and they all refused to bring us to that area, saying that it was far and traffic was quite heavy. Because of that, we just randomly choose a Peking Duck restaurant with lots of local customers: Guo Ji Home Cooking (郭记家常菜) located near Wang Fu Jing.
Our gamble paid off. It was a yummy meal!
Beijing Railway Station
Then, we rushed back to our hotel to get our things. This was unplanned, but the hotel booked by Dalvin was walking distance from the train station that we were supposed to go to!
Being our first time to take a Beijing train, we went there extra early. We got our train tickets bought from China DIY Travel. China’s rail system is centralized, and we could claim our tickets for other destinations and stations. We just had to pay an extra cny5 per ticket, to claim those that are not departing from that station.
It was chaotic outside the station. The people there have no concept of personal space, no concept of lining up. Simply barbaric.
Filbert was still searching for sim cards continuously. Some said we can find it in the train station. When we got to the station, they said it was sold by street vendors outside.
There were also no seats outside the terminals, so we stayed at a really expensive coffee shop for an hour or so. We left the coffeeshop and waited near the terminal entrance an hour before our train departure schedule, not knowing when the boarding gates will open.
Again, no concept of lines, no consideration at all. Once the gate was opened, People began pushing, I was simply being carried to the front by the masses behind me.
We then found our compartment and our bunks. Our big pieces of luggage were placed in between the two double deck beds, and the smaller ones underneath the bed. George and I got the bottom beds, Dalvin and Fil got the top beds.
The Soft sleeper train was quite comfortable. Two clean pillows and one thick comforter was provided. There was at least one clean squat toilet, hot water dispenser, and three sinks provided per car. There was also a power socket in each room.
The noise and train motion lulled me to sleep. Bringing an eye mask was a big help because my companions might go out to use the rest room in the middle of the night, or might opt to open their reading light. If you don’t close your curtain, light can also come from outside your window.
My only complaint was that we couldn’t control the temperature inside our cabin. It was hot!
A little past 5am the next day, the train conductor opened the door of our cabin, turned the lights on, woke us up and told us to get ready. We were getting off at 6am.
Tomorrow, I will write about our adventures in Datong!
For train tickets, we book with China DIY Travel. visit http://www.china-diy-travel.com/en for more information.
to read about our entire travel itinerary, click here.
to read about our first day, click here.