The air quality in Beijing is listed as unhealthy, but so far today the ski looks clear! We had another “special” Chinese breakfast at the hotel (included can you believe it) and then set out the 44 km or an hour to Dreamwing Honda, where Trevor has service booked for his valve check etc.
We had all ordered tires that Ride China arranged for us and they are in the driver’s van. It is not that far to Honda, but took over an hour. We had one storming of the toll gate today right off the bat and then one car accident that slowed the traffic to a crawl for about 4 km. We arrived to Honda and the shop is very nice. They set out to work on Trevor’s bike, but also agreed to swap out all our tires and balance them for a reasonable price. The local tire shop near by wanted double. We are beginning to find out just how expensive almost everything is in China. They agreed to do it for us after we said we would take off the wheels from the three BMW’s. They gave all the guys new wok gloves as well. They also ordered take out lunch for us.
The hotel is only 2.5 km from here and so we were checked in by 1. Trevor picked up his bike at 530 and all seems well. We had deciphered the Beijing subway map and headed to the nearest station on the Line 14. All along the way walking to the station there are discarded bikes that are part of several share bike companies, but they are piled up everywhere within 400 m of the stations. The official route is down into a sewer “canal” and across some broken paving stones (even on maps.me).
It is about an hour to the center with changing trains and some walking. You must go thru airport like security screening at every station.
We arrived to down town and went thru another security check point to get near to Tiananmen square to find all the actual access to the square closed off. We are not sure if this is a nightly thing or due to some construction being done.
We wandered around the center and found a local place for dinner. It was another hour back on the Metro, but we are getting pretty good at it. It is surprisingly orderly. When you enter and exit the train and when you have to move up the stairs or escalators there is no rushing or pushing. The flow of people walking between he lines is constant, but ordered.
We have a big day planned today and we are up and out of the hotel and down to the metro station at 830. An hour later we were in Tiananmen square. It was packed with tourist of course. We spent a few minutes to take in its vastness even with the crowds. It is pretty hot in the direct sun so you can not hang out here too long.
Then it was across the road to spend several hours in the Forbidden City Palace Museum. There are hordes of people here, but it is all orderly, except where you have to push and force your way to the front to see the throne rooms. This is where the guides would have made their next mistake if we had not changed our plans. The itinerary said we would visit the Forbidden City yesterday and do the bikes today. The Forbidden City is closed one day a week and that was yesterday!
Leaving from the north side we did walk about 800 m to a popular Chinese Restaurant for lunch. We decided against food available inside the museum. Again out driver Mr Tang did an amazing job. Every meal he studies the menu and chooses unique dishes. Today we had a sliced beef dish made with “numb” peppers and when you ate it your tongue went numb. We also had a minced pork with chilies that you spoon into bread cups sort of like lettuce wrap style.
From here we planned to walk thru the Jingshan Park park and ascend to the temple for a 360 degree view of the city. Jingshan dates back to the Jin Dynasty 1000 years ago. The 46 m artificial hill was constructed in the Ming Dynasty and from soil excavated for the moats of the Imperial Palace and nearby canals.
Then it was thru Beihai Park and along the lake district. This public park is the former Imperial garden built in the 11 th century and open to the public since 1925.
We stopped for a beer beside the Signet bridge and then did a small tour in the Hutong district towards the Bell and Drum towers. These were used to chime the time of day with bells in the morning and drums in the afternoon.
It was now 5 and we were all pretty tired, but to go to the hotel means we will not go back out again and we HAD to have Peking duck in “Peking”. Luckily there is a fairly well known place 3 k from the hotel and 500 m from the Line 15 train. We had the duck of course, but also an amazing beef and tomato dish, spicy sautéed veg, and stewed lotus root.
It is impossible to get one of the many taxis to take you unless you are going more than 5-6 km away. They refuse to take us 3 km to the hotel and so it was 500 m back to the train 3 stops on the 15 and then 3 on the 14 and 20 min later we are back walking across the sewer….Tomorrow we leave at 0630 so its asleep by 915.