One thing that strikes me about Beijing is that people will just stop for a nap pretty much anywhere. A habit I hope to take back to England.
We cycled to a vegetarian Chinese restaurant. I haven't done a lot of cycling since I got here - it's very different to England. You have to be constantly aware of everything that's going on around you. Pedestrians and cars come from anywhere. If you need to turn left, the safest thing to do is use pedestrian crossings. It's essentially the opposite of England in most cases - cars wait for cyclists and pedestrians instead of trying to plough through them. I feel a lot safer when using the road here, but crossings here do mildly resemble chaos. Somehow it all works well.
These kids were so cute in their matching dresses. I showed a couple of people this picture, and the response was a shrug and "Beijing". Apparently this place is a constant overload of cuteness.
When you go on a hike in an unfamiliar place, you should follow the instructions of the people leading said hike. Today I did a brutally difficult (for me) Beijing Hikers 6km over The Great Wall of China at Huanghuacheng, which was made more difficult by the fact that I was woefully unprepared. I brought the wrong shoes, shorts instead of trousers, I forgot to wear long sleeves, and I only brought one bottle of water. For a 4 hour hike. So, now my ankles hurt and my arms and legs are scratched to hell.
Straight out of the gate, it was obvious that this was going to be a rough hike. I was already winded by the time we reached the base of the wall, and things didn't get easier from there. I've played games that feature the wall, and seen it in films, but images do nothing to convey just how steep and difficult it is to pass through. Nevertheless, allow me to show you a few images where I attempt to convey just how steep the wall can be:
These images are probably going to be samey, but I've tried to reduce that as much as possible. The views from the towers on the wall are spectacular, and I could make excuses to post all of them (27) but I haven't.
I mean look at these climbs.
I'm not 100% happy with this photo - the branches behind this guy are more in focus than he is, but I love his big smile so in it goes!
I knew that lunch was going to be included in the price of the hike, but I didn't realise it was going to be this incredible spread. This is probably obvious to everyone else, but Chinese food is way better in China than it is in England. That's right; I'm that guy now.
Some of the wall is - no overstatement - terrifying. I walk a lot, but I'm not really a hiker. There were incredibly narrow sections, and way more areas where you could have quite easily fallen to your death than I'm used to. I normally experience between 0 and 1 areas where I could fall to my death.
Walking and snapping, eating pizza, walking and snapping.
The first day I got here, I was terrified of crossing the road. Anything with two wheels does not obey traffic lights, but it actually does something better: avoids all pedestrians. So, you're reasonably safe to cross as long as you're confident in your forward motion. If you try to avoid a bike, the likelihood you'll get hit by it increases dramatically. Once you get used to it, it's great (and yay over/underpasses!).
I haven't figured out cars and buses yet. I've been waiting for the green man, but it doesn't seem to make a lot of difference. Cars will still routinely come at you and I don't know who's in the wrong but I assume it's me.
I didn't have any plans for today so decided to go for a bit of a wander/urban hike. I wanted to go to Temple of Heaven but it's pretty far. It's even further if you go via Ritan Park and Tiananmen Square, so I went at 5am. It's due to hit 38°C today, and I didn't want to be out in that.
I didn't actually get to walk around Temple of Heaven because it looked like you had to pay to get in and I didn't want to have to deal with that. I walked past some street vendors and got an idea for a present for Tabitha, so I might go back next weekend to get that. I love walking round this city but damn it is a sweaty endeavour. I've mostly stopped caring about it but it's still a bit of a drag. Most people here stare at me like I'm an alien, which can also be quite overwhelming, so now I'm hiding in my hotel room and trying to figure out how to order Pizza Hut delivery. Dominos won't deliver to the hotel.
I'm not a football guy. I played football when I was younger but I don't really get watching it. I know some people who know a lot of information about a lot of players, and I don't get it. I mean, whatever you want to do but it's not for me.
That being said, I went to see this Beijing-Guangzhou match last night and the atmosphere was quite amazing. There was about 54,000 people there and the enthusiasm was pretty contagious. I found myself getting swept up in it.
Getting a ticket was a fun experience - fortunately I was with two people who speak Mandarin, and they sorted out getting tickets from a tout. I learned that the Mandarin for 250 is close to a homophone for the Mandarin for calling someone an idiot. I love this language.