Monday, 6 August 2012

Tian'an Men Square & Teashop...

Got the bikes again and went down to Tian'an Men Square via the Legation quarter. Went past the old British Embassy again, but didn't stop this time, so didn't get chased off. Bugger. Tried to see the back of the building around the corner, but we were unsure which one was the right one. Happy with what we know though.

We then got to the square, parked up the bikes, and went for a wander past Mao's Mausoleum. The statues out the front were quite impressive, much like the Russian Communist style statue. The mausoleum was shut, only open in the mornings, but who knows, you could just be looking at an empty box, so we aren't too fussed we didn't get a look in. We then went past the old gates in the wall around Beijing, which are quite impressive. The wall no longer exists, but the gates are quite imposing and colourful, and because the tunnels that are under the massive buildings afford some shade, and also create a wind tunnel which gives some relief from the oppressive heat, people mill about resting, sleeping and generally chilling out. We do find it very amusing that they don't seem to do nappies here, instead they just put a slit in the kids pants for easy access. Simple potty training.

Also found the zero point for all highway measurements in China.  It's the point from which all distances are calculated, and is marked as a compass. 

We then made our way back to the bikes with the aim of going to the Underground City, a network of bombproof tunnels Mao insisted on building in case of a Soviet attack. It contains everything you would need, including hospitals, food and weapons, but it was never used. You used to be able to go in and wonder about, but because the tunnels are unstable and collapsing, that is no longer the case. Thought we'd go and check it out anyway. We took a few wrong turns, got a little lost, and ended up riding the bikes through a pedestrianised shopping street. Dodging people, we made our way in the general direction we thought we needed to go, and got distracted by a Tea shop.

 We stopped to have a gander, and ended up spending the afternoon sipping different teas, and buying the shop out. Thing is, we forgot we were on bikes, and had to figure out how to carry the stuff. The girls in the shop were great and helped us tie it on the bikes with ribbon. Scooter style. With their great work, we managed to get the stuff back safely. The Underground City will have to wait for another day.

We've booked a tour tomorrow to see the Great Wall, so watch this space. Apparently, we have been led to believe, it is more than a pile of stones.