I’ve had a fun the last few days exploring on my own. Since my language skills don’t help a ton here, I’ve had to do most of it with pointing and nodding, but somehow I’ve survived. My first full day I went wandering around the hutong, little alleyway neighborhoods that are quickly disappearing. The ones I was wandering in are northeast of the Forbidden City. The streets are barely big enough for a car, which makes it interesting when a car, a bikerider, and a pedestrian meet on the street… But anyway, I found what I think is one of the only vegetarian restaurants and had some delicious imitation Peking duck and bamboo shoots with jasmine tea. Then I walked around some more before going back to where I’m staying. Then I fell asleep at about 7pm, no joke.
The next day I decided to visit Tienamen Square and the Forbidden City. I probably should have given myself more time because after wandering around the subway station looking for the square for about half an hour, then actually walking through the square (it’s not small) and walking through the first gate of the city, it was already 4pm. What I didn’t realize was that it closed at 5… So I got a taste of the Forbidden City, then went home using a different subway stop. Then I tried to stay up late but went to sleep at 8.
Then came yesterday. It was absolutely beautiful outside (which in Beijing terms means that it’s overcast but not gloomy), so I found a Japanese restaurant and had the cheapest sushi meal I’ve ever had, then hopped a bus to the Summer Palace. Knowing my luck, I accidentally went the wrong direction and had to switch buses. Then, to make matters worse, I started walking in the wrong direction and then it began to pour! I ended up huddled in a little shop for a bit while it let up, then I found the Old Summer Palace (which was probably better considering the Summer Palace closes at 5 and the Old Summer Palace doesn’t close until 7). I walked around for hours and hours until I decided it was time to leave. Then began my journey to find the exit, which took at least another hour. Once I got there, I couldn’t for the life of me find the bus stop, so I took a taxi back, which ended up being less than $2. Again I tried to stay awake, especially because Kathryn (another student I’m rooming with here) was arriving that night, but I fell asleep at about 9.
Today is looking kinda gloomy, so we’ll see what happens. I’ll update again (hopefully with pictures) when I can