Hello China! Beijing first impressions

We have arrived here in China after our flights via Zurich. It was 5:15 in the morning when we arrived and we were ready for bed…so we that’s exactly where we went. Our hotel is the Novotel on Chongwenmen Street and it’s one of those ‘could be anywhere’ experiences. How lovely!
We met our guide for our 3 days here at the airport. She is called Tan and she seems to be a quirky student all dressed in pink and black stripes. She was a bit late arriving at the airport to meet us so that wasn’t a brilliant start but never mind, I’m sure she’ll be a smart kid. Although she needs to stop trying to sell us the interesting Kung fu show.
We had four hours kip and then awoke completely unrejuvenated ready to attack the outside world. We decided that the best thing would be to take a stroll down to Tiananmen Square as it is just down the road our hotel is on. As its Sunday the streets are relatively quiet and although it isn’t smoggy, it was overcast and actually got a bit chilly. It turned out to be quite a way down our road to the square and we passed lots of government buildings on the way down there.
Then having passed through the subway security checkpoint we found ourselves in Tiananmen itself. It is huge and dominated by several monuments and buildings. There were also some really colourful flower beds and a giant flower decoration. There also was the iconic picture of Chairman Mao on the walls of the Forbidden City. I think we’ll learn more about all this on our official tour tomorrow but for now it just felt slightly odd.
It’s just not quite what I’d expected. The area we are staying in is like being in Canary Wharf with giant corporate skyscrapers, tatty looking apartment blocks and leafy streets that wouldn’t look out of place in Paris. Everywhere is very clean with no graffiti or litter. And then the roads themselves I’d expected to be full of bicycles still. But no they’re full of very modern looking cars and, yes, a few bikes and mopeds but not so much as you’d notice.
One thing that hasn’t let us down is the hacking cough of the Chinese people. First noticed waiting outside the ladies loos at the airport and then heard along the way ever since. My particular favourite was the chap who welcomed us to the Spa here at the hotel. He showed us in and introduced us to his female colleague who then led us in to have a look around. As we walked off he had the biggest bronchial hack you have ever heard. I was already starting to go off the idea of coming back for a relaxing massage when we were the shown the women’s Spa Area. Not for us the lovely looking sparkling blue pools. Those were for the men only. Us women had to put up with a tiny, smelly plunge pit. Oh I don’t think so thanks.
On a slightly more positive point the kids are absolutely adorable as I’d expected them to be. Unlike their adult parents who just stare and don’t smile- the kids haven’t learned this yet and are full of shy smiles.
We finished the afternoon by sneaking into an American style coffee bar called 1901 Cafe. It was comforting to be in familiar surroundings I have to say.
Tonight, however, after a little rest, we’re venturing out again in search of the best Peking Duck in Beijing.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Hello China! Beijing first impressions

  1. Mike

    You need to get yourself to the more traditional tea houses where u can sample local delicacies and try their idea of tea.

  2. Get down to the Hutongs to see ‘old Beijing’ and … do as the locals do and wear face masks! You’ll settle into the experience once you’ve shaken off the jet lag.

    • Hello Phil! Yes just about feeling human again now. Already feel like we have done so much…more of which later. Missing Facebook already ..hope Mo is getting on ok xx

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