I stayed in a supposedly more traditional part of Beijing, down a hutong (Mongolian for something like “town”). A hutong is a narrow alley-street-thing that connects to other hutongs, but I’ve heard that people call old neighborhoods hutongs. You’d probably associate a hutong with a siheyuan, which is a traditional type of residence with a courtyard. The hotel had six floors, and luckily included an elevator. You’ve heard about my luggage troubles. Nice view of the city—I didn’t realize some members didn’t have one until I hung out in another room with a view of the side alley wall. Very hard, thin mattresses—luckily, anything horizontal was heavenly after sleeping off and on during a thirteen-hour plane flight. I slept well all nights we stayed there, although I heard many suffered. Early morning starts. Normally, in America, I don’t wake up until after noon during the summer. Our morning start times began as early as 7:30am, and I made it down to breakfast each morning.
(Aside: I don’t really enjoy American breakfast foods, except for bacon and pastries. That’s why I’d rather sleep.)
Interestingly enough, jet lag worked in my favor. My body clock was so out of whack that waking up early was no problem. I was wide awake whenever I woke up, it’s so strange and would have been frustrating if I hadn’t had the need to utilize it.
One of my favorite parts was during our free day. We found lunch at an out-of-the-way baozi/jiaozi shop. They put them in little plastic bags, and we settled on a dusty, dirty landing to eat. We got stared at a lot but it was some of the best baozi/jiaozi I’ve had yet. For my FB friends, there’s photo evidence on my Wall. Massive photo explosion to come.
Basic Itinerary: Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, lunch at local hutong house, Summer Palace, Olympic Stadium, Great Wall, Beijing Opera, free day (Temple of Heaven, Pearl Market, Wangfujing Street)…