Homeschooling this morning while Isabelle and I prepare the visits for this stay in Beijing; we basically try to put all the places we want to see (sites, shops, restaurants, bars…) on one map. Very useful.
In China, most social websites are blocked (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Snapchat, Picasa, WordPress.com…) as well as all Google-related websites. To be able to access these sites (including our blog, which is on WordPress), we had installed VPNs in our phones and laptops and it seems to work (although erratically).
We go in the district of the Drum and Bell Towers today (North of the Forbidden City). The sun is veiled.
It is very surprising to see that all motorbikes (and most of the rickshaws) are electric nowadays; it’s so much less noisy!
We find the small local ‘canteen’ restaurant (Lao Beijing Jiaozingan) specialized in dumplings. Dim sums are sold by tens here. Only a few (wooden) tables in a very simple room. The dim sums are very good (and quite filling), especially the ones with pork and leek. Bill is sweet (less than 10 Euro for the lunch).
We start our tour in the historical hutongs near the Drum and Bell Towers. We unfortunately arrive (2’) too late to visit the Drum Tower. We walk in the hutongs around the (popular) Nanluogu Xiang. The main street is rather a shopping area, with lots of nice shops (some of them rather unusual for us such as shops specialized in combs only!) but the small streets around are more authentic.
We walk the whole afternoon (4 hours). We take the metro to go back home.
The metro is easy and efficient. The Beijing subway is the world’s busiest (10 million trips per day). It has 19 lines, 345 stations and 575 km of track in operation; it is the second longest subway system in the world after the… Shanghai Metro. It opened in 1969 but has undergone rapid expansion since 2002 (hence the many modern stations), as only 2 lines were in service before then. Beijing Subway’s extensive expansion plans call for 1,000 km of lines serving a projected 18.5 million trips every day by 2020!
Before going back home, we stop at a (Wu Mart) Supermarket. Not great but we could find enough to cook dinner at home tonight (shrimps) and fruit for the breakfasts of the week to come.
We work again very late, until 2am. It’s really difficult to fix priorities during this trip. Bot Isabelle and I are “a bit” perfectionist / over-achiever and we are always trying to do as much as possible. On one hand, it’s great because we see many things (and that’s the main reason we travel the world). But on the other hand, it might be too much for kids (they don’t have much time to relax, although we always try to give them one hour of screen in the morning) and there are so many things “for us” that we don’t do, such as sports, yoga, meditation, reading more about history of the places we visit (or even reading one of the books we’ve taken with us), watching the movies that we selected about the countries that we visit (or just a nice entertaining movie)… Difficult choice…