AFTER Ulaanbaatar, Julienne and I spent two nights with our friends in Beijing.
Here's what we learned:
- When you arrive in China, you must register yourself at a police station (unless you stay at a hotel, which will do that for you). At the police station, I chatted with a Chinese American who had a 'warning' because he registered himself only after nine days in the country.
- The city is ready for the Olympics: very clean, I hadn't noticed anyone spitting, and people were very friendly to foreigners. Talk to any taxi driver about the coming Games - and you could the people's expectant spirit.
- Silk Street - a popular shopping place for tourists - wasn't our thing. Julienne was actually terrified by the overly friendly sales people.
- But the Great Wall was magnificient. If you go, you must not miss the cable car up and tobbagon ride down. (It felt dangerous!)
- The Forbidden City was over-crowded with tourists, but Julienne and I enjoyed the dressing up in costumes. I was some famous empress and she was Mulan.
- Visited a local market and bought four bags of nuts home. We were impressed that it was very organized and clean (compared to our Jurong East wet market). Shame on us.
- Had a $1 wash at a hair salon. It's hard not to laugh when things are so cheap.
- Sales people asked the most personal questions. Two Starbucks gals found out where I was from, whom I traveled with, why I went to Mongolia, and how old my daughter was all within seven minutes.
- When people are tired, they just sat down anywhere, we noticed. I saw a man stooping down in the middle of a bridge, and another sitting on a highway - out of the blue.