Sunday, March 20, 2011

Day 7- Back to Beijing

I awake around 7am to the strong smell of urine. The Chinese man who is sleeping opposite of me gets up really quickly and goes to change. I am sure he is the culprit of the pee-pee smell. I read for a little until the strewardess type woman comes to wake us up to prepare for arrival. I notice I am a little itchy and find some bites on my hands. I go look in the mirror and find bites, large ones, covering my face. Someone had brought fleas onto the sleeper car and I am covered in large, red welts, as well as a large hive on the left eyelid that eventually prevents my eye from opening completely. I soldier on, get dressed, and ready for our entry into Beijing.

Our train arrives around 9am, and we get off to catch a taxi and get to our hotel. The hotel is located down a side alley in a Hutong, which if viewed at the start of the trip I would have vetoed.

Now however, it seems like the cutest little place.

We try to check in but it is too early. We drop our luggage and go walk around our Hutong, which is a great tourist area. There were great little shops and a DELICIOUS Japanese reataurant right down the street from us. We go back after lunch and I can finally shower and wash any leftover bugs off of me. I am so thankful.

We plan to go to the Beijing zoo, to see the Pandas. As soon as we arrive we know that it probably will be a distressing experience. The zoo is in terrible condition, and the animals are all dirty and singly housed. The signs clearly say: “do not feed animas,” but since there are no workers or zoologists, or anyone who would remotely be concerned for animal welfare around, people bring bags of vegetables and stick their hands through the fences and feed the animals. I am amazed as I see full-grown adults reaching in to feed zebras. They animals appear very stressed and unhappy. The indoor exhibit that houses the noctornal animals is filled with many loud humans, and people walk by and bang on the glass to wake the animals up, though all it does is stress them further. They are the tiniest enclosures I’ve ever seen and we leave without seeing the Penguins, who are an extra 12 Yuen to see.

It seems to me, that all of the little guidelines that make life easier and people in order (waiting in line, not pushing, not elbowing others when they walk by, letting people of out elevators/doors/subway before you go in, not feeding zoo animals) just do not exist in Beijing in any way.

After the zoo we take an hour long to the Summer Palace. Our cab driver drops us off, and just as we try and enter – the guards inform us that the palace closes at five. Really? As if he knew… the cab driver waited for us. and takes us on a 1.5 hour (!!!!!) ride back to our cute little hotel. I am truly defeated by this point… covered in flea bites and wearing uncomfortable shoes.

We take respite at the hotel for a few, then head out to a Korean bistro, which is by far the most glorious meal we have eaten while in China. We have a few beers, and toast our last night. We head to bed early – sharing the single daybed included in a “standard room.”

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