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The Adventurer’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 07 May 2006

Location: Beijing, China

MapToday was an adventure and a bit of a workout, but fun all the same. We slept in a little until about 9:30, which was much needed from those early starts to the day. Brian and I were going bike riding in the Hutong of Beijing. We went to get a quick bite to eat at a nearby restaurant. Had some greasy, but very tasty noodles. In this restaurant they make the noodles from scratch. After that, we went to get Brian's foldup bike (yes, it really folds up so that it is compact enough to travel with it--I have to get me one of these).

The Hutong are old alleyways that span the city center of Beijing. This is where you get a taste of old Beijing--some of the buildings date back more than 600 years (as we were told by a local). There are all kinds of cool, trendy little shops and pubs and cafes everywhere. People live in small houses in the alleyways; and they seem to live a simple life here. Kids are out playing, people walking and biking everywhere, very upbeat area. If I had to compare the city center size (or at least the route that we took cycling) I would say it's about as big as Edmonton's city center times two, and I'm being conservative.

Also, the traffic is crazier than Seoul, and we had to go out onto the main roads at times to get where we needed to go. So I rented a bike from a local shop (only cost me about $3 Canadian for about 4 hours). I was a little nervous when it was time to go out onto the main roads. So Brian led and I followed--there he was, zigzagging through traffic and people and other cyclists and I trailed behind. I'm sure you know the video game "Frogger?" That's what it was like. I once again came into contact with the Forbidden City and Tian'nammen Square, only this time I was cycling around it. We went to one Hutong where there was also a very busy market. I bought a few souvenirs from this place, and had some tea offered to me by one of the local merchants. This was tea that he had grown himself in the southwest part of China. He kept pouring and pouring until I told him to stop. I think he would have enjoyed having tea all day.

We carried on in one alley way and out another. I bought some more souvenirs from a couple of other merchants, of course bargaining down the price. My legs were sore towards the end of our route, but I made it to the end. After we dropped my bike off at the rental place, we went to eat dinner at an Indian restaurant--the food was delicious! We didn't stay up too late as my flight was leaving at 8:55 am the next day. It was an interesting 3 days and I was able to see everything I wanted to see and more.