Thursday, July 10, 2014

Day 1 - so if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao..

We arrived at our hotel in Beijing at about 3am. After a long flight with Air Asia (the highlight was seeing the new Air Asia airport in KL, no really, this was a genuine highlight!), long queues at immigration and a drive with a taxi journey with a driver who didn't know where we were going, we finally made it. Our hotel, Michael's hotel, is probably the friendliest place I've been to in China. Despite arriving at 3am, Michael was there to cheerfully greet us.

Sleep, breakfast and we took the 22 bus to Tiananmen Square. We didn't quite make it early enough to see Chairman Mao, but that's something I can probably live with. Walking through to the end of the Square we visited the Forbidden City. Originally a palace during the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty.        

We left the Forbidden City via park. As we walked through the park we notice that there were mostly older women, advertising or selling something all along a great stretch of the park. We took a closer look and they have sheets of paper, with writing on them. They only thing we understood was a year on it. We realised this was a date of birth, ranging from 1978 -1989. Some had photos of women on them, and very occasionally a man. There were other women taking down notes or discussing with the 'owners'. When we got back to the hotel I googled (no wait, Google has been recently be blocked, I yahooed) to find out what this was about - So the younger generation are frustrating their parents by not getting married, therefore the mothers are taking it into their own hands to find a suitable husband for their daughters. This happens every Sunday in the park.

After an exhausting and sweaty day we may have accidentally had a brief (or not-so brief) afternoon nap. Realising it was late we found a local restaurant to eat at. We grabbed our menu, entirely in Mandarin, Paul takes his Mandarin phrase book and we work out key words such as; pork, beef, steamed. After 30mins of studying he menu and With this exciting new vocabulary we tried to order some food. After some time trying to order the food, the waitress suddenly remembers she has a menu in English. Sigh. Food was delicious, especially the dumplings!

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