26th October 2011, Wednesday
As if the day before wasn’t long enough, the kiasu-ness in us made us all wake up at 7 am sharp. We got ready by 8 am to visit Tian’ anmen. We planned to have our breakfast somewhere near Tian’ anmen so we walked to the nearest subway station, just 50m away from our hotel.
We bought a travel pass for 20 yuan deposit and topped up 20 yuan as credit. Every stop cost 2 yuan. You can travel either to one stop or as many as till the end of the line, it’s also 2 yuan only per entry/exit. How cool is that?? Remember to get your bags scanned at all subways entry in Beijing. I think it’s good that they practise such checks to avoid any untoward terrorists’ incident.
Since it’s still early, many people are on the rush to get to work. The subway was full with so many people, we basically have to walk shoulder to shoulder with others. Ms Pok said to me, “In China, there aren’t many things, but there are many, many people!” We basically got shoved into the subway coach when the train approached. At one stop, I was shoved out and had to claw my way in so I didn’t break away from my friends. It was indeed an experience. So I told the girls, perhaps we should start the day later to avoid this incident again.
The moment we got to Tian’ anmen West station, we were lost. We were not sure if we supposed to walk to Tian’ anmen Plaza or Tian’ anmen. The place is so damn huge. So we followed the majority of people and found ourselves standing opposite the square instead!
So we got down the underground crossing again to walk to the opposite side. As we reached there, we found that there wasn’t any shops offering food at all within the Tian’ anmen perimeter. So, we went to ask a policeman, where can we have something to eat? The police told us, the nearest makan place for us is at Wangfujing.
We felt a little stupid because we just passed by Wangfujing station just now and didn’t stop for breakfast before coming here. So, we had no choice but to go back to the sardine packed subway again to go to Wangfujing – which is thankfully just two stops away from Tian’ anmen West to have our breakfast. We arrived at a shopping mall – if not mistaken, it’s exit A. It was again too early for shopping malls to open, so we settled for breakfast at Yoshinoya. We were worried we would be famished again since yesterday we didn’t have enough breakfast before our Great Wall trip, so we practically ate a large breakfast, just in case we couldn’t locate the next meal.
After the fairly large breakfast, we packed some cream puffs on the go, in case we were hungry while walking around the Forbidden City. Off we go again, on the subway to Tian’ anmen. This time, we stopped at Tian’ anmen East, go to North East Exit, exit B, go up the escalator, turn right and right again and Tian’ anmen’s is just 2 minutes away!
Tian’ anmen Square
Tian’ anmen – well, I don’t think I need to elaborate as you guys can just read its history on Wikipedia yourself. Anyway, I was told that, the huge portrait of Chairman Mao’s on the entrance to Forbidden City – his eyes will follow you wherever you walk! The portrait reminded me of Leonardo da Vincci’s Monalisa. Perhaps, all great art work has such 3D effect? Haha.
The Forbidden City
After walkabout Tian’ anmen & Forbidden City– it’s super huge by the way! We walked out from the rear gate – it’s where you have a few choices to make. There’s a board right at the exit gate next to the road to tell you where you want to go – they have a list of tourist spots for you to choose from. Pretty nifty! We decided to go back to Tian’ anmen front because we wanted to visit the National Museum, which is just opposite the square. We took bus no. 5 to get down at Tian’ anmen Square.
Door knobs at Forbidden City
By the time we were at the Museum, it was almost 3 pm. the museum closed at 5 pm. So we decided to make the most of it. A point to note, by 3.30 pm, ticketing to the museum would cease. Since it’s already 2.45 pm, we asked if it’s still ok to go to the museum. The guard told us to hurry up and go. So we rushed to the gate and were given a pass each. Those with knapsacks are subjected to higher security scrutiny. If you carry water, you need to take out your water bottle and drink a gulp to prove it’s not poison or acid you are carrying which might destroy their artifacts.
One particular female guard at the entrance was really rude. It’s either my travel mates are sloths – they listened to their instructions but then, reacted slowly to it or the guards were just plain rude. For a person who doesn’t really understand Beijing’s mandarin, I think I did pretty fine. I quickly took out my water bottle and drank in front of the guard. The guard gestured me to go in first, even though travel mates were in front of me earlier. Slow in drinking her water and slow in adhering to instructions, it sure pissed the guard off. LOL!
We made a brief head count of our group – where is Ms Tan?? She was the last to appear because she carried another liquid in her bag – her minyak angin! LOL! Since it’s brand Axe and made in Malaysia – they haven’t seen the brand before. So I asked Ms Tan, “They told you to drink your minyak angin also????” Ms Tan laughed – “No lah! Just ask me to put on my nose and I was good to go!” Haha! It was hilarious! So people, if you were to go to the National Museum, please don’t bring any items which has liquid.
Eventhough it says, open till 5.00 pm, by 4.30 pm, they already closed most sections of the museum and told you to leave! So, we gathered our things and get ready to leave. We felt it was too early and we worried about the subway again – since it’s also rush hour! Anyway, by the time we finished visiting the museum, we were famished. So, we decided to go to Xizhimen for peking duck.
It seemed we have no luck in locating the joint for peking duck at Xizhimen, we were told to go to Hepingmen instead. We didn’t want to get into the rush hour in subway again with others, so we decided to loiter around Xizhimen for dinner. It was a good thing that, there’s a food court at a mall near Xizhimen’s station, so we had our dinner there. Luckily my travel mates didn’t put the blame on me not being able to find the duck place as recommended by somebody lah. Cilakak betul! Moral of the story is – to do your own homework before going on trips to avoid such incident!
After the no-duck dinner, we decided to swing by Gulou again. We stopped at Guloudajie station and got lost again trying to find Gulou Dongdajie. We walked towards Jiugulou instead. It has proven to be a blessing in disguise because I would have never gotten to take photographs of such a beautiful hutong at night, if weren’t for us getting lost again. Hahaha. So it’s really good to think positive at all times! Thanks to Ms Pok for her positive encouragement!
Red bicycle along Jiugulou
Old fashioned makan joint @ Jiugulou
A deserted lane at Jiugulou Hutong
Night snacks @ Jiugulou
Guardians of the door @ Jiugulou
We walked further and ventured into Yan Dai Xie Jie – where many pubs and coffee houses flourished over the old hutong area. Here, we walked further to Hou Hai hutong where majority pubs are situated next to a river. In Beijing, all rivers are called sea. Not too sure why though, coz my friends cannot explain it to me, perhaps anyone of you might know, please feel free to enlighten me.
We stopped by a nice quaint café along Yan Dai byway – Qingcafé where the owner speaks good English. We ordered some café latte and cappuccino. We were delighted because there’s wifi provided so, we catch up with friends on whatsapp, meebo and e-mail. We spent a good hour here while others were resting and sleeping after a long, long day.