my last day in Beijing. I started the day with the antiques / flea market in the South-East
of the city. They sell anything and everything ("a chap can unload, is sold off the
barrel...") much of it kitch and faux-antiques. It was fun to browse but I didn't ever
think seriously about buying the apparently priceless antique plate and then carting it
round the rest of China with me.
My friend and I stopped off for Korean barbeque for lunch - a hillarious adventure trying to
translate everything into English / Mandarin, mostly with the help of a poor customer who
spoke the best English in the restaurant and was, to my chagrin, constantly interrupted by
the waiters when they didn't understand our pidgeon-Chinese / simple English.
Feeling very full after that feast, we made our way to the Bird's Nest to work it off. The
Olympic Stadium was, well, cool. It was entirely functional - and obviously cleverly built
for optimal crowd control - but did clever things with the space. Nothing seemed to be
frivolous, but it all fit together neatly and was, all
in all, impressive. Giant screens at
each end of the stadium showed replays from the Games and there were various acts to amuse
the tourists - including an amazing tightrope walker, who did quite frightening things and
all without any form of safety net.
All that remained was to get some caffeine into my poor system, grab a quick bite to eat and
then catch a taxi to the station to catch the train to my next stop, Xi'an. It turns out
that if you want to see China in all its populous-ness (it's a word because I say it is)
then go to a train station. The waiting rooms are packed (you are advised to turn up at
least 1 hour before departure) and yet somehow the wonderful people at China Rail still
manage to get everyone on the train.
For this journey, I was in soft sleeper (which won't be the norm for me) and so was put up
on the top bunk in a 2 bunk cabin with 3 Chinese people - a couple and a young man who, I
decided, was unrelated
Antiques Market - Books
Book stall - eat your heart out, M.
to the couple. They were lovely and very helpful to the poor
foreigner, but sadly conversation wasn't possible because of my limited Mandarin.
It was a comfortable journey all in all, and I awoke to a new day and a new town.
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