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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Out and about in Beijing

Did I mention that when we were in Beijing we were like tourists on speed?  Seeing as much as we could and power-touring for 3 short days.  We knew we had very limited time in Beijing and that baby girl would soon be with us.
 We tried to take the subway as much as we could both in Beijing and Guangzhou because it incredibly cheap, about $2 round trip for the 4 of us, and a fun adventure.  I will say that I've used subways in the US and in Europe.  After a couple visits, I never was able to figure out the system and get around in New York, and felt like a complete dummy.  The subways in Paris and London are incredibly user friendly.  And in my opinion the subways in Guangzhou and Beijing were very easy to use once we understood the layout.  My understanding is that the vast majority of the subway in Beijing is only 4 years old so it's really brand spankin' new.  And it's clean!  Easy peasy and definitely would recommend giving it a whirl.
Patch and Papa trying to figure out how much to pay on our first attempt riding the subway.  Papa held up 4 fingers, passed some money through the hole, and got back change and tokens.  Easy enough! 
Waiting for the train to arrive.  Must not have been rush hour.  This looks incredibly slow and quiet.
The names of the stations are clearly marked above the doors in both Chinese and Pinyin.  This is the pink line.
This station is just down the street and around the corner from the Hotel Novotel in Beijing.    
Getting on the train.  Notice how amazingly clean it is!
Also notice the names above the doors, and all the stops of that train both above the doors and on the pillar.

The very first time we attempted the subway, we followed the crowd and waited by the doors for the train to come.  There were about 10-ish people by each door... kinda busy but not bad.  The train pulled up, the doors opened, and all Papa and I could see were a wall of people.  Where would we stand in there?  It looked completely full.  I inched forward with Liv and prepared to find some standing room, but then I heard Papa holler to me "Wait!" So I took Liv's arm, backed up, the doors closed, and the train left with the 4 of us now standing alone on the platform.  Papa explained that he wasn't prepared for the crowd and needed a moment.  A few minutes later, the next train came, and this one was was surprisingly more crowded than the last.  But we had watched the first train, and learned the trick to getting on a crowded train is to just step in and lead gently with your shoulder.  Amazingly, no matter how crowded, there will be room enough for you to stand.  Liv and I made our way in, and pushed our bodies together like a sandwich, as did Papa and Patch.  There was nothing to hold onto, but then again, falling was an impossibility with that many folks crammed in.  From then on, a crowded subway train wasn't intimidating.
This sign shows all the stops that this line (in this case it's the pink line) makes.  The large blue arrow shows which direction it's going.  The red and blue arrow/flags on the bottom indicate where you can change trains (in this case for the red line 1 and blue line 2)  Also, at each hotel, we asked the concierge for a subway map and had them circle the stop closest to our hotel.  We studied this map ahead of time, and I carried it around in my pocket when we were out just in case.  
This is the name of the last stop that this train makes, so you can ensure that you are taking the train that is going in the direction you want to go.  
This is the stop closest to The Temple of Heaven, in Beijing.  I think it was only about 5 stops down from our hotel.  It cost about $2 for the 4 of us to get there and back via subway.  
We ate a huge breakfast every morning at the hotel's buffet, usually snacked our way through lunch supplemented with street food, then found a cheaper restaurant with the locals for dinner on the way back to the hotel each evening.  This way of eating was quite affordable and fit our schedule.
Care for some gizzards to go with your hangy slimy squid on a stick or any other various mystery meats?  Cooked up special just for you!
The infamous "snack street."  And she looks like she means business folks!
This is suppose to be a photo of the very yummy dinner that we ate.  Instead it's a photo of the carnage after the very yummy dinner that we ate.  We ate at this restaurant every night we were in Beijing.  The 4 of us ate dinner for about $25 for a few entrees and hot tea to drink.  On the last night we splurged and had Peking duck, (see the pretty duck plate!)  and it was a bit over $35 and worth every penny of the extra $10!
If you happen to be staying at the Hotel Novotel, exit the hotel and turn left.  It is the first restaurant down the block with the red lanterns.  Between 50-100-ish yards down the street on the same side as the hotel.  


  1. Thanks for the trip down memory lane! Oh, I remember those subway trips well. We only hit one really crowded train and thankfully that was before I had Hannah. After I had her we only took the subway twice and made sure it was not during rush hour.

    I thought the light up advertising that was outside the subway trains was really cool!! Wish I'd taken a video of that!

  2. Looks like so much! And so clean! We might have to take the subway next time!

  3. Good morning Nancy - you last couple of posts are simply brilliant!

    While not subway fans - cabbing wasn't very expensive in China either! You are a tad more heroic than I when it comes to street food however - just couldn't bring myself to do that!

    As for your post concerning bonding ideas - all of your suggestions are outstanding! We did the "1 caregiver and it was Mom" thing - worked very well - and we were blessed that we could "add dad" relativly quickly.

    We too made extensive use of the Ergo (front facing you too) on all three adoptions. During the 3rd - our son was a tad 'heavier' than the others, so Marie would wear the ergo and then we took and empty backpack and put water bottles in it as a counter balance. If it got too heavy we could simply dump the water!

    We did get some interesting experiences doing that - many "americans" would look at Marie with the baby and the backpack and a kid on each hand and me walking with the camera and frown....but most of the locals seemed to approve of what our guide said was "The one american man who knows how to run his family"!!

    Co-sleeping as well - what ever it takes to make it work - and you can't spoil them, they aren't fruit!

    hugs - great stuff here -

    aus and co.

  4. On my upcoming trip to China I am going to try to be much braver and venture out and try more things... even though my husband isn't there! So here is my question... when eating street food or going to a restaurant how did you order? Did you only go to places with picture menus?

  5. Paige---
    Rule of thumb re food and eating: Only eat what/where the locals are eating. If locals aren't eating it, I don't feel comfortable eating it either. Example-Snack Street. We DID NOT eat any food on snack street. There were lots of folks there, but very few of them were actually eating the food, and the ones that were buying and eating the food we obviously tourists. So eating at Snack Street was a NO GO in my book. Don't want to risk being sorry the next few days. We DID eat street food frequently, but only when we noticed the locals partaking too. Often we had no idea what we were eating, and amazingly, all the street food we tried was delicious. For some reason that seems to be quite universal in all countries.
    Ordering in restaurants? I honestly can't remember a restaurant that we went to that didn't have bad English on the menu, pics on the menu, or a waitress that spoke some broken English at least. So we never had a problem ordering. BUT when trying out a new place, we will often ask to see a menu before sitting down, (make a open/closing book movements with your hands, and they will likely understand) And we've also been known to leave before ordering if we were aren't comfortable there. One time in Beijing we had a restaurant recommended for Peking duck. We ordered hot tea to drink at first (pretty cheap usually) then looked at the menu. The prices were OUTRAGEOUS even though this place definitely looked local. Like over $100 to feed the 4 of us. We paid for our tea, kept smiling, said bye bye, and left. There's no problem with leaving if the place isn't right for you.
    Hope those tidbits help.
    Have fun on your trip!

  6. So interesting! I get so confused by the train system in NYC also. It loved your description of being tourists on speed! : )

  7. what an amazing adventure you guys had. i can barely take it all in and I wasn't even there!

  8. I like reading about your adventures. It seems not many adoptive bloggers venture out like you did. I'm sure it enriched your experience!


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