Our second day in Beijing and Ryan and I are just having a fantastic time. Not sure how far we walked, but we were walking for 9 hours today. Determined to get our train tickets for our upcoming trip to Tianjin, we set off for the train station. Only a couple hundred meters from the station we found a giant wall that was a gate around old Beijing. We traveled around the wall and found Red Gate Gallery with it’s fantastic contemporary art by Chinese artists in the distinct Dongbianmen Watchtower. It was an unexpected surprise, and made for great sightseeing. When we arrived at the train station we were taken by the sheer size and bustle. The line-ups for ticket purchases was marked in English, but we quickly realized that at the front of the line we’d have trouble explaining in Mandarin what train we wanted and at what date and time. Ryan managed to find someone to write what we needed in Chinese so we could show it to the ticket agent. A young woman in line bumped into us accidently and said in good English, “excuse me” which gave away that she might also be able to help us if the written note failed. She deftly negotiated our ticket and as we thanked her, we learned that she is a soldier and it is her duty to help foreigners. Eventually we made our way to a big shopping district closed from traffic and did some window shopping, toured a mall, and found a Starbucks — Ryan’s been missing his dose of caffine, so we visited and paid the equivilant prices as back home. A short bus trip. A cab ride. Some dark alley’s. Altogether it’s been another great day.
For the morning, we’ve booked a tour of the Great Wall and Ming Toombs. It’s going to make for another packed day and we’re just enjoying every minute of it.