Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.
|Monday, February 12, 2018 16:33:38|
China, Thailand to Singapore 2018: 3 Beijing
Saturday, February 10, 2018
The same driver who brought us from the airport drove us back to the airport. The flight was very comfortable on an A330, a huge plane for a flight of only 1 ½ hours. There were even flat beds. Another driver arranged by Lifeng picked us up to drive to the Park Plaza Hotel in downtown Beijing, where we stayed a couple of times previously. It was only a block away from where our car was displayed in the Rolls Royce show room.
I caught up on the computer a little in the afternoon, but an email from son Paul who built and administers our travel website told us that emails being sent from China are badly messed up, and getting to only a small portion of the people who follow our travels. If you want any missing installment let me know and I'll resend after we leave China.
In the evening we had our traditional Dadong Peking Duck dinner with James (his proper Chinese name is Ren Zhanmiao, but he deals with English speaking people as James) and Lifeng. We met James at the Mongolian border when we drove the Rolls into China 11 years ago, and he rode with us for weeks as we crossed the country. He still works for Lifeng as an English speaking guide, plus has his own company specializing in Great Wall visits, treks and camping along the wall. If you would be interested in a Great Wall tour you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The evening was fun and the food beyond superb in this very famous restaurant.
Sunday, February 11, 2018
After an easy morning Marilynn wanted to go shopping, so after some discussion where I tried unsuccessfully to get out of it, we went to the metro station and travelled to the Nan Luoguxiang Hutong, where Marilynn remembered a shop she liked from when we were here with grand daughter Sela. On arrival we were approached by a fellow with an electric bicycle rickshaw, so we decided to take his tour to refresh our memory of the hutong. Fortunately we were wearing heavy winter clothes, as it was bitterly cold with a strong wind.
Hutongs are old neighbourhoods within Beijing, which are protected from development. The houses are mostly single story places built in the old traditional way – most date back well over a hundred years. This hutong covered dozens of city blocks, containing the shopping street, an elementary school and other things that serve the needs of those living in the village.
At the end of the ride we walked down the main street, where I spotted a pub that had an amazing menu of beers from all over the world. Once inside we found they had hot mulled wine, so that won the day, warming hands on the outside and our bodies from the inside. The shopping didn't work out, so it became a bit of a pub crawl where we dined on popcorn and drank hot wine. A taxi got us back to the hotel for only $3.
Lifeng picked us up at 6:30 PM and took us to a superb restaurant, where we dined on a number of courses. She had also thoughtfully brought along a bottle of wine. It was a good meal and a great send off.
Monday, February 12, 2018
Not much sleep, as we were awakened by alarm clocks and the hotel wake up service at 2:45 AM. Box breakfasts arrived at 3 AM, but were just nibbled at. Our flight departs for Bangkok, Thailand at 6:15 AM. A taxi waiting outside the hotel got us to the airport in about 45 minutes, as there was no traffic.
Things went downhill once we cleared immigration and customs. Our gate was in a boarding area lined with high, glass windows, making it impossible to heat. We had packed most of our cold weather gear, and so froze waiting for the long delayed flight with Ural Airlines, a Russian Airline based in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Apparently a lot of vodka was consumed by passengers coming from Yekaterinburg, and a fight broke out on the plane. Police arrived in force, but it was over an hour before they appeared escorting a woman who was apparently the cause of the on board battle. Several waiting Chinese were shouting abuse at both the airline staff and the police. It was quite a show, but we were almost two hours behind schedule when we boarded.
This A321 was not quite what we expected. Business class was the standard economy three seats on each side of the aisle configuration, with standard economy spacing between the seats. The only difference is that the centre seat was left empty. The steward, noticing my problem, moved us to bulkhead seats, but this was even worse as the armrests between the seats were fixed, and could not be raised. Finally Marilynn stayed in the bulkhead seat, and I went back to where I could stretch my legs out in front of the two empty adjoining seats. There is no entertainment or video screens. It has the worst "business class" configuration that we have experienced, and this flight was over 5 hours long.
A meal had a lot of food, most of it quite good. Being only 9 AM I opted for vodka in my orange juice rather than the offered wine, hoping it was ease the painful seating arrangements. After a return from the toilet Marilynn reported that they even had authentic course Russian toilet paper. They don't have beer on board, only vodka or scotch whisky! I partook of both.