Beijing – the reunion after 23 years – complete confusion!
“Beijing – återseendet efter 23 år – ren förvirring!” was first published on my Swedish Blog.
After having spent a couple of days in Beijing I postponed my flight to Guilin. I realised 2 days wasn’t nearly enough for everything I wanted to do in the city. Plus, I didn’t really feel like stressing around, just to arrive to Yangshuo like a complete wreck.
Besides I had a bad case of jet lag 🙂 Constantly tired! Except when it was bedtime!
So I’ve been wandering around the city until almost fainting (basically every day!). First day I went to look at Wangfujing, where I believe we stayed back in 1994. However this is unclear, it might’ve been a completely different street we stayed on. I did not recognise anything…
But that also might’ve been due to the same sickness affecting me when I revisited Koh Samui after more than 10 years! The only tiny sign I actually was on the same island was Big Buddha, who by the way had gotten more attributes on his golden body!
Wangfujing today is full of flashy stores (it might’ve been 23 years ago too?) – the first I saw was of course APPLE STORE!!! Went inside to hear about the most exciting news I’ve heard in a long time – iPhone X!
And then the Swedish mega giant mainstream H&M as well as Spanish brand Zara showed up on the street and it didn’t feel quite as exclusive anymore… 😛
The entrance gate to famous Wangfujing snack street, where really disgusting live creatures were sold on sticks… 😦
I strongly suspect I was drugged or in another way unreliable when I was here in 1994 (or my memories of the city might have been tainted by the pink colour glasses), because what did I actually write a while back:
Hardly any traffic?? OMG… all I see is traffic… I never rented any bike, but I did challenge my claustrophobia and took the subway a few times, sometimes I did have my regrets, but mostly it went very well – no full-out panic attack and hardly any hyper ventilation at all going on.
Not even that one time I travelled in the rush hour! Pretty proud of myself!
It was very simple to travel by subway in Beijing too, unless you could make the ticket-selling-lady understand you. She didn’t understand the english: “Forbidden City”, but when I tried a lousy pronunciation of the subway station: “Tiananmen West”, she got it. I was amazed she understood me!
To get from my hotel to the Forbidden City I had to change 2 times, so I travelled on 3 separate subway lines. It was however fool proof: every time you entered a train there were clear signs on both sides of the train station where the train was going, and when getting off, there were clear signs to show you where to go to change line. Inside the train were clear signs with blinking lights to show you where you were and where you were going. Fool proof!
All names were in both Chinese and with English spelling – perfect!
Besides the tracks were closed with glass doors – and this is awesome. I’ve only seen this in a couple of places in Sweden, but every station had them here!
It was only the first time I travelled with the subway I bought the ticket with a lady who didn’t understand me, the rest of the times i bought the ticket through a ticket machine, which was waaaaay much easier! 😀
Mostly I found it easier to take the subway in Beijing than getting a taxi!
The taxi drivers didn’t really want to speak to me, and I suppose it was because they are shy and scared of me since I was speaking English. It probably wouldn’t have been an issue had I spoken Chinese.
I remember walking and cycling in Beijing the first time around, one or few times we took a taxi, which back in the day was only 10¥ which in our minds were scandalous! But I don’t remember a subway…
Beijing is a quite lovely city, much bigger than I remember from the 90-s, and so much to see. The air quality isn’t as much as a catastrophe as you hear, I didn’t experience any breathing problems (!), sure there are apps to check how bad the air really is before you go outside, and the air quality is even added in the regular weather app for iPhone. From what I can remember from the 90-s I experienced Xi’an had much worse air quality. And I do think Bangkok at times can be worse too!
The only thing I found a tad negative was I saw those much had been restored and rebuilt. For example, where I lived by Qianmen Street – an old street from old Beijing, BUT everything was quite new! All buildings were completely new and looked new, built in an old style of course, but still, brand new. Nice, well yeah, but it kind of lost its charm.
The cutest police car I’ve ever seen…
Outside my first hostel were this famous touristy place. Dashilan…
Below is outside my second hotel where I moved after a couple of days in the city: “The Emperor Beijing Qianmen” (really great hotel!), which was located on a hutong-cross-street of Qianmen Street. The statues on the right were everywhere, and are apparently a celebration to the worker class.
During the weekend there were just too many people here, and hard to get a seat at any restaurant, even though I was only 1 person! It was also quite hard to make yourself understood, which ever day it was – I was lucky most of the restaurants had images of the food on their menues, some even had English translations (if at times non-understandable!), but most of the people could not speak to me. So it was a bit of a hassle… 🙂
This time I didn’t have time to visit any old hutongs, so I’ll save those for next time. Something to look forward to… 🙂 I feel I have so much left of Beijing, so I hope for many more visits to the city…