Chinese Crowds Are Not for the Claustrophobic

We’ve just about had it with the horrendous internet connections we’ve had while we’ve been in Beijing. This is the sole instigator of our delayed posts. Trying to upload a post and pictures now takes about 2 hours due to the terrible wifi at our hostel. So, we apologize for any concern you may have had for our wellbeing during this time. Yes, we realize that these are all first world problems. Instead, save your concern for the next few days where we head to Hanoi to experience another typhoon.

The internet complaint is really what drove the entire first half of our day today. Sick of wasting two hours yelling at the router in our hallway, we instead, opted to visit a nearby café in hopes that their internet wifi would be significantly better than our hostel’s. We arrived and ordered some breakfast of croissants, a mango yogurt drink for Lynn, and a chocolate shake for Doug. Grabbing a table, we attempted to decipher the QR code sticker stuck to every table with instructions on how to get on their wifi. More frustrations were encountered when we realized that it involved installing an app which was estimated to install in 45 minutes. Luckily a waiter brought our food minutes later and gave us the network password so we could bypass the app. And thank the heavens, the internet actually worked. We didn’t get disconnected every 2 minutes so we took full advantage of this and starting booking accommodations during our stay in Cambodia. We also spent some time trying to figure out our route around Australia which we now know will involve a lot of flights.

Deciding that we didn’t need to do much more research at this point we googled for the top Sichuan restaurants in hopes that we’d find one in route to our next destination: Mao. One just so happened to be situated in a hotel near the Forbidden City so we started off in that direction. We walked a good 30 minutes before we were hit with a wall of overly assertive, hat wielding tour groups. Where had all these people come from? Snaking our way through the crowds with a few missed turns thrown in we arrived at the hotel only to be told with hand gestures that the restaurant was closed. Bummer. We shook off the disappointment and came up with another plan to head to Wangfujing Street, a pedestrian road with various shops and restaurants. Tackling the crowds once again we took off in that direction, but never shaking the crowds. Seriously, where had all these people come from? Two days previously we were walking this street and only passed a couple of people here and there. We have since agreed that since yesterday was National Day people must have taken today off for a long holiday weekend. It also doesn’t help that this was the second sunny day in a long line of rainy days. Oh well. Arriving on Wangfujing Street, Doug spotted a street food he’d been hoping to try today. We aren’t entirely sure what it is but it is some sort of candied fruit. Doug took a few bites and exclaimed “It’s really sweet!” 3-4 of the fruits were eaten and the rest was donated to the trash. We aren’t about to give our dentist-less teeth up for some mediocre food. Next it was time to find lunch, we headed off to a nearby mall to weigh our options there. A quick tour of the food floor led us to Shanghai Restaurant where we ordered more buns, noodles, and pork to satisfy our growing hunger. Thinking we still needed some dessert, we briefly considered Dairy Queen but chose to get a fresh mango jelly beverage instead.

Another delicious lunch of dumplings and noodles.
Another delicious lunch of dumplings and noodles.
Weird candied fruit on a stick.
Weird candied fruit on a stick.

Alright both the blog and lunch were covered for the day. It was time to see Mao! Making our way through the hordes of flag carrying people all the way to Tianamen Square, we arrived only to learn that Mao’s Mausoleum would be open from 8 a.m. – noon this week. Double bummer! Ok, so no Mao for us this trip. Instead we headed off to our next destination: Olympic Park.

Statue outside of the closed Mao mausoleum.
Statue outside of the closed Mao mausoleum.

Beijing hosted the summer Olympics back in 2008 and Lynn loves the Olympics so this was a must for us. Navigating through more throngs of people we slowly made our way to the nearby subway station. Seeing that the police had cordoned off lines of slow moving people at the entrance we chose to walk a few more blocks to another less crazy subway stop. We took the subway to the Olympic Sports Center to be greeted by even more people. Here Doug got to experience his first real China crowd, complete with old women elbows and child jostling. Luckily we were able to stick with each other amongst the 200+ mob of people forcing their way through the security line of the Olympic Park. Once instead, we still were not free of people. People, people everywhere. Oh, and a selfie-stick for every person as well. But, all the people didn’t take away from the beauty of the park, we were able to see the Bird’s Nest which we learned isn’t as pretty up close. We also got to see the Water Cube and in Doug’s words, “I think someone needs to teach them what a cube is.” The park features a dragon-shaped lake as well and a wall listing the winning Olympians. Overall a very beautiful park despite all the people.

Doug doing his signature selfie pose
Doug doing his signature selfie pose

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The Bird's Nest up close
The Bird’s Nest up close
USA! USA! USA!
USA! USA! USA!

We took in the atmosphere as the sun was setting on our last day in Beijing and decided to stroll to another subway stop to avoid some more of the tourist crowds. On the way we learned that the park just south of the Olympic Park serves as an outdoor arcade for some of the Chinese teenagers. There were light-up roller skates you could rent, outdoor karaoke you could sing, Chinese lanterns you could sent off into the sky albeit not safely, and even balloon dart games for prizes. It was all very adorable. We found our subway stop and proceeded south to an Indian restaurant we had Googled. There we met another couple from Houston and chatted while we snacked on chicken korma and aloo gobi. Still exhausted from the Great Wall, we took off to our hostel for bed.

This giant tower, what was maybe the old torch, lit up fun colors as the sun set.
This giant tower, what was maybe the old torch, lit up fun colors as the sun set.
The bird's nest at night.  There was a giant screen playing ads projected on the side of it to really add to the beauty.
The bird’s nest at night. There was a giant screen playing ads projected on the side of it to really add to the beauty.

Daily Walking Mileage: 16.9

Fun Facts:

  • In China, open-crotch pants are very common for toddlers. To quote Wikipedia, “The child simply squats, or is held by the parent, eliminating the need for diapers.” We would like to strongly disagree with this statement since we saw a child surprise his parents by doing his business all over the subway car which they promptly covered up with toilet paper and left. No, Wikipedia, this does not eliminate anything.
  • In July, Beijing was chosen to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. This makes Beijing the first city to host both the summer and winter Olympic games.

 

 

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