After waking up during the night due to cold, again, I remembered that the thick blankets were in the wardrobe in this place. And how much warmer it was with those. Next time I woke up it was Yang’s voice on the phone. She had arrived in Beijing and would drop by my hotel to dump her stuff before leaving with the night train to her home city.
After a good hour and a half the hostel phone rings and Yang is downstairs. It was quite a queue to buy her tickets, a lot of people are traveling due to the chinese new year. I wonder how Yoon-Ki will manage to get back to Beijing, well well. The plan was to check out Temple of Heaven Park, a huge park in Beijing that I mystically missed before. Dressed for success and armed with a chinese translator I left the building.
The buses was so much easier to ride when the information exchanged between people were both reliable and understandable. Yang was impressed with my bus story from yesterday and explained that no matter what I should not been able to ride four buses for 0.05 €, I guess I charmed them with my smiles. The weather was Beijing-smog topped with spots of snow so the park looked rather dull but it was still nice to stroll around.We visited the Round Altar, a rather big round three-stories altar in marble. If standing in the middle of the top and talking one would hear the echoes bounce off the balustrades loud and clear. Impressing, I tried it by with joy singing out a famous quote from The Kristet Utseende. No swedish persons seemed to be within hearing distance though.Another cool building was the echo wall, a circular wall with a diameter of 65 meters. If standing on opposite sides and talking into the wall one could very clearly hear the other person. These acoustic tricks are seen here and there (I recall my high school for instance) but when taking into account that these things were built around the 16th century rather than the five latest decades it’s quite impressive.
After warming up with a hot chocolate we watched what was left to see. This included loads of locals playing cards, singing praises to Mao and playing around with feather balls. Next stop was to pay old Mao himself a visit in his mausoleum just south of Tiananmen Sq. After taking the subway there we found out it was unfortunately closed, well next time my chairman, next time.
Time was running out quickly and with Yang needing to leave later we took a bus heading back to the hostel. The bus should have stopped at a place familiar to me, but did not. I find it more probable that the conductor made a mistake than I did. After some creative orientation techniques we found our way back, it seemed like a good time to take a long warm shower now though.
Fresh and ready we strolled towards Xaibu Xaibu for a last hot pot in Beijing. Well there we ordered a few different dishes, the bill was surprisingly high though, almost 8 € for me and 5.5 € for Yang. When they food arrived we could se why, some of the “dishes” we had ordered was as a matter of fact a meals. To get a picture of the amount of food, think of the american tourist who at McDonalds orders the menus like they were side orders. There was no way we would eat even half of this.Which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try though. Finally we had to give it up, we gave the food to our neighbors which I think accepted it and walked back. I wished Yang the best of luck with her train home and it felt like this was the end of the vacation. Now all that remained was the little problem of getting back.
Most things are under control, there is a however a rather slim connection in Stockholm, specially given the fact I must collect and then re-check in my luggage. Time will tell, but if the flight from Frankfurt is late, chances are that my colleagues will see a rather tired Viktor showing up with the Stockholm-Gothenburg train…