I woke up in our private room in the Downtown Beijing Backpackers Hostel with the rising sunlight shining through the wispy curtains. I rolled over momentarily confused at why my body felt like I had slept the day away but then the excitement of the day and our adventure overwhelmed my groggy brain and my eyes popped open.
First stop was the free breakfast next door to the hostel. It was a western style egg and white toast, which surprised me, but I’m sure after backpacking around the country for a while, landing here could be an oasis for a homesick traveling 22 year old.
From there, we worked our way toward Tien’an Men square via a little neighborhood named, Hou Hai which sits on a river just west of city center.
Following the lake down we hit a fantastic park called Bei Hai Park. It was really a beautiful spot with gardens and and island with a 350 year old white tower on an island built to welcome the dali lama in 1651…
I love that there is such a preserved history in china… and it’s everywhere you look in central Beijing.
The view from the jade tower was really great… surrounded by jade trees and showcasing an underrated beauty that Beijing has to offer… which I like to think as “perpetually overcast”
Next we went east out of the park and into an amazing farmers market. Then a long walk around the Forbidden city and into a mob tourist vultures aggressively offing a wide array of services. Not ready for that, we headed east and found a vegetarian place that was just what we both needed. With a little feul, we braved the hour line to get into Tian’an Men
Once in the square, we strolled the area holding monuments and many historical items, including the preserved body of Chairman Mao, on sale for your viewing pleasure. My favorite spot was the South gate… it just had an amazing presence… and again was much older than my own country.
That was about all of our jet lagged bodies could handle for our first day. So we headed back to the ally, grabbed some frozen yogurt, and planned our next stop… and overnight slow train to Pingyao after seeing the Forbidden city tomorrow.