There and Back again… 再见北京!

Saturday 2nd May

We got up early to get to the Summer Palace before it got really busy as this weekend was a bank holiday across China. Upon arrival we were glad we did do this! It was heaving. People everywhere, shouting to each other, the crowd ebbing and flowing in multiple directions because Chinese people don’t understand the concept of “excuse me” and power through like Buffaloes in a stampede. Luckily the queue for the tickets flowed quickly and soon enough we were in. It is a beautiful place and the best bit is the view you get once you’ve climbed a hill:

To walk around the whole lake takes around three to four hours. Unfortunately we didn’t do this, we walked down the west side and back round on ourselves instead. Nevertheless it was beautiful. We had lunch in a part of the park called ‘Suzhou street’:

Suzhou Street in the Summer Palace Park
Suzhou Street in the Summer Palace Park

I decided to pay a bit more (everything was tourist prices anyway) and get a pork and leek stir fry with rice. And the others chose a stir-fried noodle for about half the price of mine. I’m cheekily glad I didn’t go lower because the plate of noodles was tiny! The poor things were a bit disappointed when their food landed in front of them. After eating we left and headed back towards the city. We decided to go to a artsy part of the city called ‘798 district’. It took a little while to get there and involved getting the metro then a bus. And, to be honest, it was a little underwhelming! There were a couple of small galleries selling paintings at sky high prices, or a couple of places with exhibitions that you had to pay to get into. We ended up spotting a short queue of people and joining it. It was said to be a ‘Beijing musical festival’, with a few different bands/acts performing over the two days. We went in and there was a percussion group on. This group consisted of about five guys (all western/not Chinese) playing various rhythms on drums. It was pretty good! We ended the day by having a drink in the district, buying an ice cream, and heading home.

But the night was yet to begin. (That sounds so corny.. XD ) We planned to have a night out in Beijing during our stay. We had asked a couple of friends from campus where they recommended to go and off we went! However… We left at around eleven, thinking it’d be easy to get a taxi, but it wasn’t. We were stood at a crossroads for aaaages. Eventually one arrived, we piled in and showed him where to go on my phone map. Ten minutes later we were in an area called SanLiTun and looking for the clubs. The night out went downhill from there. We went from club to club, finding that the music and atmosphere was rubbish (in my opinion) in each one. Finally we settled on going to a place called VICS. Maybe we weren’t drunk enough, or maybe it was just bad.. But it was not fun I can tell you that! The music was too thumpy, the people around us seemed way too into it.. Thus Hayden, Antonia and I headed home before Becky and Luis to get some McDonald’s and tuck up in bed!

Unfortunately Hayden left her phone in the taxi.. Fortunately she was able to use Skype on my phone to ring home and ask her parents to block it for her. But it meant she was going to have to buy a new phone.. Luckily that was easily solved the next day! To put insult to injury (whatever the saying is), the McDonald’s we went to also refused to serve chips. We couldn’t believe it! The cheek of not putting some chips in for five drunk ‘laowais’ is unjust! So I ate another burger to compensate for the loss… Eventually we landed in and happily welcomed sleep to end an eventful evening.

Sunday 3rd May

We didn’t wake up until mid-morning and left at lunchtime to eat at somewhere on WangFuJing street. We then returned to the Silk Market to buy anything we hadn’t but wanted to last time. It was a successful trip! We had walked in heads held high with the (hopefully convincing) look of getting what we want for the price we want. I think it paid off. 😀

Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square

We decided to go to Tiananmen Square By late afternoon we were shattered and headed back to the hostel for an early night. Now I write about it… It seems like a really boring day!! It was the first day where we just  did everything at a slow pace. Something I’ve missed having back when I’m back home!

Monday 4th May

The day started with another sleep in for me! The others went to see the Forbidden City however at 10:14 I received a call from Becky saying that it is closed on Mondays… The bad luck we have this trip!! Thus I got ready quickly and headed to meet them at a metro stop to go to the Olympic Park. I ended up waiting for quite a long time because the others weren’t able to find the metro stop for quite a while but soon enough we were at the Olympic Park 😀 As it was almost lunchtime we all found food to go and eat in the sun! The Olympic Park is quite (expectedly) huge but it didn’t feel like something really special. The Bird’s Nest was cool, but the street frame was actually quite dirty! As we walked around the outside of the stadium we noticed that there were signs saying ‘Beijing 2022’ which was bizzarre. Had we suddenly time travelled ahead a few years? It turns out that Beijing is trying to convince the Winter Olympics Committee to choose it to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. This is possible because it can be very cold in Beijing in the winter, however, in an unsurprising Chinese way, they are making a massive effort to host it! Apparently they have started constructing monuments and some buildings that they would need in order to host it! TIC! (= “This is China”!!)

We then spent the rest of the afternoon lying in a park on the north side of the Olympic Park. It was beautiful sunny weather but it wasn’t boiling hot which was perfect! In the evening we decided that we’d give having a night out another go. However for Antonia and I, we flopped. After dinner in the hostel Antonia wasn’t feeling very well and I was not in the right mood to dance and drink. So we stayed and chatted. Luis, Becky and Hayden left at nine thirty and, to our surprise, were back by eleven thirty (we were still up chatting).. They were only gone for two hours and the only good moment in that short period of time was buying a snickers bar! How do we manage this?!

We caught a seven hour train back to Ningbo on Tuesday and were home by half past nine. It’s so lovely to be back!

From then.. To now… (9th May)

Quick mention: Happy Anniversary Padres! (parents) 😀

Anyhoo… It feels like we came back from Beijing about two weeks ago rather than four days ago. We always manage to be so busy!! On Wednesday we had our last speaking exam in the afternoon so Hayden, Beana and I practiced that before and after lunch. Once we finished Lisa and I went to play badminton (we’re getting good! haha) then a big group of us went to a bar in Laowaitan called Eudora for ‘Ladies Night’! It was funnnn! It’s cooler here than Beijing but we were still able to sit outside without shivering which was a lot nicer as we could hear each other over the live band. Juliet and I played pool and spoke to a Chinese man for a while. Then Michael, Rina, Christoph, Shao and Rina’s brother arrived. Most people went home shortly after midnight as the unlimited drinks finished however we went to Lucas Bar! It was empty the whole time we were there but had a good atmosphere. I mostly danced whilst Rina and Michael had shisha 🙂 It was a good night out!

Today it is a sunny but lazy one. Our group of Notts people went out to a club called EVER last night (yeah the caps lock is necessary to make it sound better as a name XD) and it was fantastic! The music was good, we were given a table with free Iced Tea and Beer and there was an elevated platform to dance on. Woohoo!

My life at Ningbo is not just about going out and drinking even though it may seem like it… But sometimes it is a fun thing to write about on here so that when I look back at this I will remember it! 🙂 I can’t believe that I only have thirteen days left here… Time has flown! I don’t want my year abroad to end nor leave this wonderful place… Found this whilst I was browsing, it’s a beautiful quote ❤