Sunday 29th May 2011
1 day left traveling the world.
MP3 track of the day: Twenty four hours - Athlete
Weather: It's been hoooot all day, and the smog has been unbearable.
Up early I went for 'first breakfast' before returning to my dorm. I got back around 9:30am and was surprised to see all, bar two people, out of bed. One guy, still asleep, was 'PC Man'; this is the guy who was on his computer, at 2am, a few nights ago and I've yet to see him without his PC on; he's on it all day, and all night, and rarely leaves the hostel. I didn't feel guilty, re-packing my bag, as 'PC man' tried to sleep and it took forty-five minutes to, eventually, be left with one large rucksack, one small rucksack, one hard suit case and one shopping bag. The suit case, shopping bag and small rucksack is all 'hand luggage'; I stared at it wondering how on earth I was going to persuade the airline to board me with this lot. Still this was a problem for another day; I left, went for 'second breakfast' (which consisted of cake) and walked into town.
My first target for today was the circular 'Beijing Concert Hall'. Designed like a large dome, water surrounded it allowing for a reflection to make it appear 'egg shaped'. I walked around the building taking many photos. Due to it being located within the centre of town the building didn't have any grounds, therefore it didn't take long to see all there was to see. Still, I wouldn't say that it was a disappointment; The 'Beijing Concert Hall' was very photogenic and it's certainly one of my favourite modern constructions that I've seen whilst travelling. I left the concert hall after thirty minutes and walked in an easterly direction. I could have entered an underground station within minutes, however I decided to walk to one half an hour a way. There were many reasons for my decision; firstly, if I'd boarded earlier, I would have had to change trains twice, to get to the station that I was planning on boarding from. Secondly I'm fed up of the 'underground squeeze' and thirdly you see a lot more when walking. After a quick 'pit stop', for a Sprite, I eventually made it to 'Dongan' station where I boarded a train heading north, on line five, before transferring to line thirteen and then, finally, transferring to line eight. It was a lot of hassle and I decided, once I'd seen the Olympic area, I'd walk back to my hostel as, I reckon, it would be quicker.
The underground trains, and stations, got posher and posher the nearer I got to the Olympic area. Whilst listening to my music, on the final leg of the journey, a boy tapped me on my shoulder. I took out my ear phones to find that him, and his brother, were with their mother on their way to the Olympic park. The mum wanted her children to practice their English which, considering I couldn't go anywhere, I agreed. Once the train stopped at its terminus – the northern part of the park – all four of us alighted and we continued chatting until I found some sculptures that I wanted to see. The mum said thank you and I replied by wishing them a good day. The park – which consisted of a long stone path, small gardens on each side, and a lake at the northern tip – would have been much nicer if it hadn't been for the sheer amount of smog. I haven't seen smog this bad before; tops of buildings disappeared into thick white clouds never to be seen again. I walked south along the path, heading into the gardens on either side when a sculpture came into view. It took a while to get to Beijing's 'Olympic Stadium' (i.e. the birds nest) which was impressive, though it lost its appeal due to the smog swirling around it. I didn't stay long; I took a few photos and then left the area holding my breath, eating an ice cream and heading south.
It took an hour to walk back to my hostel. I went in, put my camera within my locker, and went to the hostels restaurant for lunch. It's the first time that I've dined here and, I have to say, that it was good. I ordered a cheese burger and a … vanilla shake; when I saw, 'vanilla shake', on the menu my mind was cast back to Phnom Penh where vanilla shakes were my favourite drink. Once I'd received my drink, I was happy to find that it tasted exactly the same as the ones within Cambodia. Why hadn't I dined here before? I left the restaurant, determined to be back later for another vanilla shake, for a quick walk around Beijing. I returned around 5pm where I briefly went on the internet before grabbing a lovely, long, shower. I had tea, checked into my flight and went for an early night. Even though my flight doesn't depart until 11:15am I still want to arrive, at the airport, around 8am; I've got a lot of 'hand luggage begging' to do and, if I can't take it all on the plane, some emergency re-packing will have to happen. It's going to be weird seeing 'London' on the departure board.