Our train made up the schedule by going faster. The ride on the
Chinese rails was much smoother than in either Mongolia or in Russia.
Penny, Butch, and I went up the restaurant car and had breakfast. The
Mongolian car had come off at the border and was replaced by a Chinese
one. The restaurant cars are concession-operated in both countries, just the
same as on the Russian railways. We each had a two-egg omelette, tea or
coffee, and two slices of bread with butter and jam for Y125 (yuan), or about four
dollars. Butch found a fifty Euro note under an adjoining table. I spent a
good while chatting with Andreas and Karina. As we approached Beijing,
the scenery became quite dramatic. Penny and I took pictures of the gorges
and reservoirs. We arrived in Beijing on time and were collected by Gary,
our local guide. We freshened up after checking into the Xiao Xi’ang Hotel.
Penny and I went out to stroll around, get some money from an ATM, and to
buy some water.
Beijing Central was the first station we had seen in a long time where the platform comes up to the train door.
Back: Bruce, Penny, Butch Sly. Middle: Phil Godfrey, Peta Godfrey, Alaine Green, Jadon Lavington. Front: Di Godfrey, Dellie Sly.
We went with Alaine to her favorite restaurant, a perfect sort of
neighborhood place that served superb Peking Duck. (What else?) Butch
and Del went, of course, and we were joined by Phil, Dy, Jaden, and Peda.
Afterward, Alaine took us on a tour of some of the few remaining hutongs in
Beijing. There were once 30,000 of them. Three thousand currently exist,
and that number is dwindling fast as the government knocks them down.
These are neighborhoods of interconnecting alleys, each one self-sufficient,
or at least formerly so. Lots of evening street activity there! People were
certainly friendly, but I could not escape the discomforting feeling that we
were on a sort of zoo tour.