Almost stranded !!!!
12.07.2007 - 16.07.2007 35 °C
Well we got to Beijing after a very hot dusty and eventful journey through the Gobi Desert. Scenery was amazing, even saw wild camels sauntering across the desert. The train journey in first class was brill, even had our own shower in the cabin. At the border crossing the train had to go into a big shed to have the bogeys (wheels) changed as the railway gauge in China is narrower than the gauge in Mongolia and Russia. Border crossing was fairly uneventful, however during the night I took ill and fainted in the corridor on the way back from the toilet. Steve was awakened by the Conductor helping me into the cabin and onto my bed. We are convinced that we have both had a virus which we think we may have picked up on the Russian train from a Swedish guy who had the same symptoms and also fainted. We're both okay now and enjoying Beijing.
Spent Saturday morning trying to buy a train ticket to Hanoi, but after 5 hours of being shunted from pillar to post, we found that the place to buy our ticket was closed until Monday.
Spent Sunday sightseeing at the Forbidden City. It was totally amazing. We really didn't expect that it would be such a massive place. We were there for about six hours and still didn't see everything. As well as the architecture there was some amazing displays of clocks, jewellery, musical instruments etc. It really was a worthwhile visit. In the evening we went to a night market for some food. There were lots of stalls selling things like centipedes, locusts, beetles, seahorses, starfish and countless other obscure things on sticks. We were a bit squeemish but had some beef dumplings, meat satays, fried doughballs and corn on the cob, we also had a couple of drinks and then strolled around the centre of Beijing soaking in the night atmosphere before returning to the hotel. We had a night out, food and drink for two and still had change out of six quid !!!!
This morning was a bit of a fiasco, we went to the train ticket office, which was still closed. After waiting a while somebody turned up and confirmed that we were in the right place. They then told us that the next available tickets were for 26th July !!!! We need to leave on the 19th !!!! Everything that we were told in the UK about tickets only going on sale 4 days before the train left was wrong !!
We then went to a travel office to be told that they could not sell us international air tickets as we were not Chinese !!! We suddenly thought that we may be stranded !! However it turned out that we were in a local tour office and not an international travel agent. We eventually found a back street flight ticket shop and managed (we hope) to buy some tickets for a plane that leaves on Thursday. We have paid a deposit and the tickets are due to arrive at our hotel this evening.
Tommorrow we are going on a tour of the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs and then on Wednesday we are going to spend the day shopping in Beijing town, everything is so cheap !!!!
We have uploaded a couple of photos but it has been a bit of a nightmare as the coputers here are a bit slow !! we will try and do more later.
Love to you all and thanks for your comments - keep them coming.
Steve and Lesley