As is the tendency on the road, plans changed! We woke up late and headed out toward the Forbidden city via the metro and my “Super Secret Backdoor” into Tien’an Men square… well apparently about 400,000 people also had heard of that one… so we again waited an hour to get through security. Then FINALLY made it in… around 1ish… about par for Em and Ben.
Forbidden City is so cool. Old… I mean REALLY old… and right under your feet. I love the layers of excess… gate and receiving hall
after gate and receiving hall. I could almost feel the vibe of it… as if at each layer they were either seeing a higher level of official or are a higher level of guest… probably both… until finally you’re in the core…
…the lush prison of the devine ruler of the world!
As we were leaving and being dumped back into the sea of yelping rickshaw drivers, we scoped Jingshan Park.
So we decided to check it out… I’m glad we did. It was so cool… and the view really showcased the magnitude of the whole thing.
I actually thought that was cooler than the city itself… I do love a vista! It ended up being a park and cemetery. There were ancient rock stairs that you could still climb… I really enjoyed it. And again, the view was awesome.
Then off for some dumplings. They were pretty good. Then to the hostel to grab our bags and off to the train station to get our tickets on the night train… what we found when we climbed out of the subway tunnel was something that we did not expect… a sea of people in 30 rows of uncontained lines at least 200 people deep… it was chaotic.
Of course we had to still get tickets… so after standing in the wrong line three times, we found the right one to get us into the ticket office… that’s when we found out rule number one… buy your tickets early… at least a day anyway. For some reason, we figured we would be able to just hop on a night train and head to Pingyao… and we could have… if we wanted to stand. That would have been a tough 10hrs… so we got a ticket for the morning fast train. We decided that we needed to get close to the other station since it left at 7am… so we hopped on the metro to find a room southwest of town. When we grabbed the train we realized that the metro was stopping at 11… and we were on the last train… with our phones useless and my battery dead so gps was out…we pulled out a 2 year old library guide book and found a hostel in the middle of an unknown area in town and leaped of faith off of the train to try to find it… I’ll go easy on the details, but it ended with us finding two bunks at a place called “The three legged frog youth hostel” and involved a military theamed “club” or bar mabye, and 3k hike with little light and nothing open, a very long dark alley, a reflexive audible prayer, a locked dark hostel, and a fair amount of pleading. We did have a guy stop on a moped and ask if we needed help… he was ended up telling us we were heading in the right direction, even though we started to have our doubts later on.
We eventually landed with no issues, in decent spirits and shut our eyes at 1am… up at 5 to make sure we caught the train.
Got to the station with plenty of time, grabbed a coffee and a snack and suddenly that chaotic mob from the night before showed up, completely packing the place… well, somehow we got ourselves separated and we each started running around trying to find the other… long story short, we added rule number two to the list. If we get separated before departure, stay at the actual train, but don’t get on unless we’re together. So after a somewhat tense 20 minutes, wondering if the other had left on the train, we had a very happy rendezvous over some bean bread and some boiled water… and got a replacement ticket for the afternoon bullet train… it turned out to be perfect. We got a chance to hit the Buddhist temple area
and had a FANTASTIC vegetarian meal… that was unbelievably difficult to order because of the language gap… but thanks to a friendly dude named “Kay” (not sure on that spelling), we dined in an awesome spot and got our strength back up.
Quick stop at the market for some Thai bananas (we’re guessing), more bean stuffed loaves of bread, and we FINALLY made it out of Beijing.
Landed in Pingyao at grabbed the bus to the south gate of the city… so we walked through to get to our guesthouse on the North side. Made it with no issues but were REALLY tired. So much so I passed out while writing this post…