“That’s all for lecture today, and enjoy your four-day weekend-” the rest was cut off as the class bustled around the room to get their backpacks and supplies together. With our four day weekend, a large group of us had booked round-trip bullet train tickets to Beijing and a 3-night stay in a youth hostel. The top tourist-y spots we had planned to visit: Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, The Great Wall of China (duh), and The Temple of Heaven. I am certain Beijing will not disappoint!
Settling into our assigned seats for the 5-hour journey
Riding the bullet is perhaps the most comfortable modes of travel I have ever experienced – not to mention the reclining seats and steward service. The sleek, aerodynamic shape and clean, white exterior gives an entirely futuristic feeling. Chinese countryside flew by at a rapid, yet strangely silent pace of over 300 km/hr (nearly 190 mph). The MagLev engineering (or Magnetic Levitation between the train and the rail) of these trains minimize friction and noise allowing the bullet train to operate at such speed and smoothness.
The group post-bullet train. We’re in Beijing!
We foreigners get a lot of curious glances when walking the streets. Where is our hostel…?
That’s one way to get around…
Our hostel lobby
Eight of us stayed in a single hostel room with four bunk beds and a few lockers, which made for hilarious, low-key slumber parties filled with story telling and games.
Being such a diverse group of foreign students, we always got extra attention from the locals. People would take picture of our group – with or without permission. It was funny every time, but this time felt like paparazzi photo shoot. I’m taking a picture of them taking a picture of us.
Duck Face-ing with Duck
Stinky Tofu: exactly what the name describes. Why so stinky? These slippery squares of mashed soybeans are fermented for days to months then fried or steamed served with chili sauce. Thankfully, this stand serves only mildly stinky tofu, so I was able to handle it. However, some stands that my friends visited served some very, very stinky batches. We all dared each other to give it a try in China, but it must be an acquired taste…