This is my third trip to Beijing, and it feels a little like coming home. The subway card that I’ve been carrying in my wallet since 2010 still works. My travel companion, Pablo, pointed out I was wearing the same shirt I had on when I met him in Beijing the last time when we were on our way to Mongolia. And the beer is still warm and skunky.
Our plan is to catch up in Beijing and then ride trains to the absolute northern most point in China, which is located in a little village north of the small city of Mohe (pronounced more like Moha).
The first couple of nights we stayed at the Fly By Knight in off the Dongsi Station. Lovely place, although I think overpriced for a hostel. It was nice to stay out of the Qianmen area for a bit, which has gotten so overtly touristy. Although, the locals have a bit of a different take on the overbuilt, brand name, “built new to look old” development. Towards the end of the trip we were traveling with a woman from QiQihaar who had never been to Beijing before, and she loved Qianmen stating that it is so “cultural”. After Dongsi, we did move to Qianmen to try to meet some fellow travelers, and stayed at Leo Courtyard Hostel. I definitely do not recommend it, although the courtyard of the old building is nice, the rooms are cheap, windowless Russian Army barracks.
We’ve both been to the Lama Temple before, but with that obsession with temples of mine, I wanted to go again.
This little lady is 26 meters high, and is carved from a single sandalwood tree.
Walking distance from the Lama Temple, is a less visited Confucian Temple. By definition, the art is less concerned with giant statues as it is with texts engraved in rock and the relics of things used in ritual.
The Summer Palace
The summer palace in the way northwest part of the city is another place I’ve visited before, but Pablo had never seen it. It’s definitely worth visiting, but not on a day like this where the pollution is so bad you can hardly see 20 feet in front of you. Compare these photos to the ones I took back in 2009 on clear day.
Bell and Drum Tower
This is a part of town I’d never visited before, and is a great area to find something to eat.
I don’t know if was a product of the pollution, or the fact that we sure as hell ain’t getting any younger, but we definitely did not have the stamina for walking endless distances and seeing all the sites. Besides Pablo is a Spaniard living in Scotland, he requires Siestas at regular intervals.
Beijing is a city that changes relentlessly, while somehow staying the same.
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