I’ve made it as far as Beijing. The end of the line as far as the Trans Siberian Railway is concerned but I might see if I can make it as far as Hong Kong before I go home.
The pre-olympic Beijing is a bustling place with lots of building work happening here. I’m suprised at how easy it is to cross the road given the amount of traffic (most of the time) and there are lots of cycle lanes – in fact the cyclists here seem more intent on mowing down pedestrians than the car drivers do. The best sight I’ve seen so far was a platoon of about twenty police officers cycling past on bicycles ringing their bells. The second best sight I’ve seen was an English language menu in a Chinese restaurant which contained literal (mis)translations such as “The Temple has exploded the chicken cubes” and “The golden vegetables beloved by friends”.
I’m staying on a market street south from the infamous Tianamen square – bright signs hang out in front of shops and narrow alleys lead everywhere. My hostel has a tiny doorway off from the main street but leads back into a ridiculously long building with paper lanterns hanging from wooden beams inside. Everywhere al long the street you can hear Chinese tea sellers shouting out stuff along the lines of “You! – Handsome boy, try my tea”. I have never been anywhere that sells more types of tea than here. The street has a constant hum of activity (even at night) and at any moment I expect a team of Kungfu experts to smash their way through a shop window and begin fighting in the street.
I’m not sure what it is with dead communist leaders but just like Lenin, Chairman Mao is mumified and available to see in a special “Maosoleum” (You see what I did there, right?). Other attractions include the Great Wall (which my train passed under on the way in but we didn’t see it as we passed through a tunnel) and the Forbidden city. Which isn’t forbidden anymore. It is so unforbidden in fact, that Starbucks applied to open a branch there.