China 2 - Beijing/Shanghai


Last week, after only a month of school we left for a week of travel to Beijing and Shanghai. If only all schools had this bonus 'back to work' holiday incentive plan. Beijing was celebrating the 51st anniversary of 'the republic' (hence the holiday) and was packed like a Ricky Martin rock concert. Buses were unbelievably packed, which may have been a good thing, since it was tough to look out the windows without cringing... as it seemed like every other bicyclist just escaped being crushed to death by the most remote of odds.

The highlight of our hotel in Beijing was, well... not the hotel itself, although, one could make an argument for 'value'! The real highlight was the street market out the front, which featured a lively scene complete with some of the cheapest beers to be found in China.

A circuit of the tourist spots in Beijing led us to the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace and Tiannamen Square. It appears that the 'Ango-French expedition of 1860' was not the highlight of recent history, as they seemed to have burnt down everything they could find in the city. Today, all the old buildings have plaques on the outside telling you about how they had to be rebuilt in the late 1800's due to the 'expedition'. We also took advantage of 'Shi Lin Lu', the center of activity for Beijing's considerable ex-pat community. The street featured excellent restaurants and bars and, as an added bonus, provocatively dressed women who sidled up to us as we walked down the street and whispered 'CDs? VCDs? DVDs?'

Our Shanghai hotel featured abundant cockroaches. When you flicked on the lights, they would scatter all over the room. What can you expect when you stay in a student dormitory? Fortunately, Robyn who lived in Sydney for several years (as a student), had had extensive experience with this phenomena and dealt with it accordingly! Unfortunately, a couple of the boogers hitchhiked home with us in our luggage!

The tourist circuit in Shanghai included a boat ride up and down the river along 'the Bund' (Shanghai's 1930's boardwalk), a walk in the restored old town and exploration in the boomtown atmosphere commercial districts. Tipped off by a posting in Lonely Planet's website, we managed to find the 'Sex in Chinese Culture Museum', which proved to be quite entertaining - apparently everything was ok in the old days! Finally, we stopped one floor short of the observation deck in the world's 3rd highest building and headed for the Hyatt Regent Bar. We had to take three separate elevators to get to the bar, and deal with snobby attendants who said things like, 'Sir, you know there IS a minimum...'. (I guess they weren't impressed by the backpacker regalia.)

Happy to be home, we're heading to Hong Kong next weekend for the Irish production 'Riverdance'. In the meantime we're planning our January trip and exploring Guangzhou and environs.

The Forbidden Party Cell

A nice view of the wall from above.
The wall winding in the distance.
The Forbidden City.
A mix of the new and old in Shanghai. The skyscraper is the world's third tallest.
A drink at the top of the skyscraper in the picture above.
Our double decker bus to the airport featured a leaking roof.

Created: October 10, 2000
Last modified: October 10, 2000
Maintainer: Keir Paesel