Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: A Tale of Two Cities (2010)

Arrival in Beijing

(Link to flight log in side panel)

I joined an enormous immigration queue at Capital Airport's Terminal 3E and became rather annoyed when the electronic sign above my chosen lane switched abruptly from 'Foreigners' to 'Chinese Nationals'. Still, it looked as though they were being sensible about it and allowing those already in the queue to continue. I was eventually able to board one of the shuttle trains for transfer to Terminal 3C, where I picked up my already-circling suitcase, cleared Customs and caught an official taxi into town. Communicating with the driver proved to be interesting, but I was confident that the destination had been established beyond doubt. Sure enough, I was soon stepping out in front of the Hilton Wangfujing, where the front desk staff sent me directly up to the Executive Lounge to check in.

It turned out that my room wasn't quite ready yet, which was reasonable enough given that it was only around 1:30 in the afternoon. The staff suggested that I might like to wait, as it shouldn't take too long. I took the opportunity to brush up on my outline sight-seeing plan, use the computer for a while and look at the view for signs of red dust! (Thankfully the weekend's dust storm had subsided in the course of the last couple of days.) Eventually, my suite was ready for occupation and one of the staff showed me to it, with my suitcase arriving very shortly thereafter. After all that travelling, I had a refreshing shower before doing anything else, hoping that it would have the additional effect of helping to keep me awake!

Once I felt that I was reasonably organised, I decided to head out for an introductory walk around Tiananmen Square, the largest public square in the world and probably best known to Westerners as the focal point of the 1989 pro-democracy protests. I made my way down the Wangfujing pedestrianised shopping street and turned westwards, stepping it out first of all to try to keep warm in the biting wind, and also in a futile attempt to avoid contact with the various touts and scam artists who were apparently keen to befriend me. I kept up the pace on arrival at my destination, as the wind really was freezing. Dithering around was absolutely not an option! Nevertheless, I managed to have a good look at the various landmarks in conditions of poor light, starting with the Gate of Heavenly Peace, the main entry point to the Forbidden City, from which the square takes its name. I then crossed via the underpass to the main part of the square, taking in the Great Hall of the People, the Mao Zedong Mausoleum, the Monument to the People's Heroes and the National Museum of China.

With all that done, I was happy to quick-march back to the hotel, pausing only to take a few photos in the shopping precinct.  

Back at base, I decided to have a light room-service dinner before surrendering to the growing feelings of tiredness some time between 8pm and 9pm.