Pandas enjoying some good bamboo at the Beijing Zoo

We are in Hong Kong ending the 2009 year, in the same hotel where we started the 5 week China journey.  We knew then that the next 5 weeks would be the toughest part of our trip because it was going to be the coldest.  It was cold.  We were lucky we did not have to buy snow boots only cold weather clothing.  At the Great Wall the wind was 20 mph and the temperature in the high 30’s.  Strangely on the wall for 3 hours we did not notice it because it was one of those moments where we said “Can you believe we are in China”.  Beijing left the impression of a really huge, wide city and it was our first encounter with the preservation of ancient thousand year old buildings along side the newer construction.  The city we were told is getting wider with the newer (more…)

We have been able to escape no more snow, but not no more cold. The weather in Beijing has turned to the colder, with the temperature around 38 degrees on our departure day.

When we got off the Hong Kong to Beijing train we decided to buy our train tickets for our Beijing to Nanjing trip that was 8 days away. We knew the route did not provide 2 berth sleepers as we had on our present trip but 4 berth sleepers were available and rumor was sometimes you could get a 4 berth for a married couple. We went up to the English speaking ticket window to attempt our first purchase in Mainland China for the 4 berth for a married couple. Speaking through a glass window in a hectic surroundings the conversation can only be explained and as English with Chinese. Going nowhere with that purchase we decided before the purchase got more confusing it was best to settle for a couple of reserved soft seat tickets before we got stuck with first come first served hard seat tickets. During the walk around looking for a taxi we jokingly talked about what was that all about, when we realized that we only paid 70 US$ for 2 reserved tickets for 8 hours on a fast new train. We looked at the tickets and (more…)