Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Last day in China

Some travel advice for you if you go to China: all flights leave late. After Guilin I thought I'd have a few hours of roaming time in Beijing before I left the country. Unfortunately, my flight out of Guilin was several hours late.  That pretty much used up all my daylight time. 

O.k. one more travel tip:  don't bother taking the train into town from the airport at night unless you can take the train all the way to your destination.  I thought it would be cheaper and faster than taking a taxi from the airport to take the train as far as possible and then take a taxi.  But as my hotel receptionist told me, "the taxis at the metro station are all illegal."  They are actually official taxis, but any driver that refuses to use their meter and tries to get a set price, is technically driving illegally.  And all 20+ taxis at the metro station were willing to just sit there rather than take me to my hotel for a reasonable price.  Basically, the price they wanted was even higher than a taxi from the airport would have been.  At this point I was actually running out of money, and frankly, I'm stubborn enough to walk.  Finally I did get a taxi to relent and take me for a somewhat reasonable price.  Still not the meter, but better.  I took a taxi all the way to the airport the next day -- in the daytime when it isn't raining it is easy to find a taxi who will use a meter.

Anyway, before I had to leave I took a little walk in the park just north of the Forbidden City, Jingshan Park.  The air quality was the worst I'd seen -- a mixture of smog and fog, making visibility about 3 feet.  Still people were in the park walking around, doing Tai Chi, dancing, etc.  This park was a pay-to-enter park.  Apparently if you are a resident you can buy a pass.

For this last night in Beijing, on my own dime, I got to stay in a Hutong-- the old alley areas of town. Definitely recommend staying in the Hutongs.  It is so interesting.




Oh, did I forget to mention that Jinshan Park is where the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty hung himself. Yes, this park has quite a colorful history.


View from the top of the hill into the Forbidden City (can you see it?):