Being confined on a train for so long is one of those things that must be experienced. For some of us who slept or tried to with a snoring man beside them had an unpleasant experience. Others woke up by the noises of people watching the mundane loudly on their phone while some had a loud conversation that kept going on and on so early in the morning. I observed all of this from my seat unable to sleep any longer on the top bunk. I think I got enough rest or at least as much as I could. What else was there to do but have a coffee and observe the morning routine of older Chinese folk.
Getting off was not a problem. We moved in unison getting to the exit door finally able to breathe the air that will accompany us for the next few days. It is a hot day compared to what we had in Shanghai. The temperature hovering around 30C. The sun was climbing to the top of its trajectory as we waited in the line up for the taxi. We strategically maneuvered ourselves in order to prevent people from butting in line. These people are aggressive in trying to get ahead. We were ruthless even with the older lady trying to elicit some sympathy to get ahead.
The cab driver didn’t know exactly where the hotel was and the directions Harvey drew were not precise either. He did ask around where the hotel was and we were not far from it. We soon left the cab and walked the rest of the way to the hotel. We were joined by the rest of the group that straggled in eventually. The hotel itself is in the middle of an alleyway. The elevator only reaches the fourth floor and our room is on the fifth. Then we had trouble with the card turning on the power in the room. We had to get one of the service guys to come in and fix the problem.
There was a meet up at twelve thirty for lunch but I decided to skip that meeting so that I could find a bank and then some lunch. I ended up walking a fair distance to find a bank that worked with my card. It was a choice between left or right at the beginning and I chose left. Oh well, it gave me a chance to walk around a bit and streach the old legs from the stagnation of the train. I had to get some cash since I had to pay for lunch. I made my way closer to the hotel and found a restaurant in which to eat.
The food was quite good but a bit pricey. I had to gesture with the waitress to get my order right and she asked me how to pronkunce “cabbage.” It’s kind of random but I guess there may be some difficulty learning the correct way to say that word. The food came and I ate a meal that would have easily fed two people. It was a shredded beef dish and a side order of cabbage in what I think was peanut sauce.
At two-thirty we met up for the excursion to the Heavenly Temple grounds. This used to be the exclusive temple where the emperor used to pray for a bountiful harvest. It is I was told one of the highlights of Beijing. To be honest I have never seen the temple or heard of it before. The whole complex is huge and the craftsmanship is impressive. As there is no more emperor the five hundred year old temple is now a huge tourist draw.
After we walked the grounds and visited the various different buildings we went to the pearl centre to do some shopping. A group of us however were jonesing for coffee and opted to go to the coffee chain that we knew and have grown to love on our travels. Next we had some pizza and finished just in time to meet up for tonight’s entertainment which was the Kung Fu show.
The performance told the story of a boy entering the monastery at the insistence of his mother. There he learns the art of Kung Fu and becomes proficient at it. He eventually experiences loss and his ego built up by his confidence shatters. He then finds his way again and in the end we learn that he is now the master telling his story to a young boy who is about to join the monastery.