After yesterdays planning session we decide to go to the train station and book our own trains!! I was dreading it thinking it would be a mare but it was dead simple, there was an English speaking booth so we queued (after the obligatory security checks) and booked our 5 train tickets exactly as planned. I can’t say the people behind us were chuffed as it took about 15 mins to do them all.
We were then on a mission to see some of the big sights here and so the Forbidden City was our choice for today. We queued again for the subway ticket, then again to get through the security checks to get in the subway, then to get on the train. Once out we queued again (for ages in a long shuffling mass) to get into Tiananmen square, again to get into Forbidden Palace, then for tickets, then for another security check finally we got into the palace feeling slightly jaded but fully security checked!
It was busy, full of Chinese tourists and kids in school trips. We saw the ceramic collection which had a tiger embossed ceramic pillow which caught my eye.
We have a sausage snack whilst there, these sausages have never seen a pig in their life, Guy is impressed, me less so!
We wander out and down a hutong (street) we saw the other day, We remember a place that looked good to eat i.e. it had photos of the food on the wall and it looked clean. We go in beckoned by the cook and point at a picture of meat with peppers and green stuff. She promptly disappears and we hear the sound of what sounded like an aircraft starting up but it was just a massive gas burner and 5 mins later we have some soft belly pork stir fried with greens, peppers and some mighty hot chillies! Some other tourists look in and we say it is great whilst sweating mildly. They order the same dish and also sit there sweating. Beer is drunk to cool the chilli burn.
We then try and make our way home, via a few dead ends and another sausage stand for Guy. We wander down the Ghost Road, a plethora of seafood and hotpot restaurants with neon lights and red lanterns everywhere. We go back home past bicycle workshops, electrical repair shops, public loos (a lot), single room restaurants, shops, pastry sellers and food on a stick sellers. We pass a mutton restaurant which gives us Mongolian flashbacks and get home with a couple of beers to relax with.