27.01.2011 - 14.02.2011 0 °C
Our flight to Beijing was at 830am so we awoke around 5am and checked out and got the hotel to arrange a taxi for us. The concierge explained that as it was before 6am there would be an extra 50% surcharge on the taxi ride. This sounded both ludicrous and highly suspicious and one can't help think that the hotels like to get a slice of the taxi pie. So as it was the taxi cost 240rm to the airport, thrice the amount we paid when we arrived. Talk about getting ripped. Maybe this was a suitable lasting impression of Malaysia though.
It was 4 °C when we arrived at Tianjin Airport around 330pm and it felt like the air was refrigerated. We met a Chinese guy called Titan on the plane who helped us a lot about what and what not to do in China as well as telling us some interesting history. After making our way through customs Titan helped us getting a taxi but unknowingly led us to a tout who charged us 100rmb to get to the train station, 20 mins away. Even though this is only $16AUD it was more than double of what we were should've paid. We vowed not to get ripped off again by taxi drivers again. At least he offered us lollies which Luke was happy to take. We then caught the bullet train travelling in excess of 300kmph from Tianjin to Beijing which took about 30mins. The first thing we noticed about Beijing was how there weren't really any skyscrapers. Instead the buildings are really wide and it takes a long time to drive through the city. We arrived in Wangfujing where our hotel is around 6pm. After checking in we walked around the streets and grabbed a bite to eat, while some homeless guy couldn't stop gawking at Luke. We decided to call it a day.
First day in Beijing. The weather was beautiful. The sun was out and the chill in the air felt good to visit Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.
We got approached to view Art Galleries and Tea Ceremonies a dozen times before we reached the Forbidden City Gate. It was amazing to walk around, 4 times bigger then Chadstone. We couldn't enter most of the buildings though, not sure if they were being renovated or just closed.
Luke was approached by a guy wanting to take a Photo with him, I thought it was a bit funny so I took photos of the guy and his family.
I thought I would be cool and hire an audio guide too:-
The walls are 32 feet high. The main part of the city was constructed over 14 years using 200,000 laborers. Building materials were shipped over thousands of miles from all parts of China using the network of canals constructed in the 6th and 7th centuries
They would wait till Winter when the water would freeze over to transport the large boulders. Nothing but the best materials were used to create this wonder. At the end of the 18th century approximately 9000 people lived within the Forbidden City. Thus creating, the center of Beijing.
After spending a few hours at the Forbidden City we thought we would go to Xidan, and judging by the map it didn't look too far. But everything is far in China because they build everything so god damn huge. Half an hour later of walking and it started to get crowded again and eventually we found Xidan. Had some lunch there, all it was was another shopping mecca both mixture of dept stores and markets. The Apple Store was there, not as crowded as you would see back home but still made us shake our heads. I had my first experience of using a public toilet, one that I have been trying to avoid until this day. I survived, but barely... I really dont like how you can't flush toilet paper in ground toilets. *shudders* lets not even go there.
We then ventured off to Silk Market. If you are into bargaining fakes, this is the place. And we are not. If you don't know what you're doing, you'll probably get f-ed over. You walk down through narrow rows of tiny little stalls while girls stand out the front asking if you want Loui Vuitton - it seems they favour to duplicate the most. Even if you glance momentarily at any of the stalls they will begin ask if you want 5 ralph shirts. So the best method is to move quickly and already have something in mind of what you want to get.
I have to admit, those girls are good. We added them to the 'we vow to never get ripped off again' list. It was kinda exhilarating until we started to realise we probably paid for someones monthly living. Oh well, I guess they deserve it.
Burnt from the ripping off (I blame Lukes hair) and the long day we walked back to the hotel.