I managed to sleep for about 5 hours on the plane. I woke up just in time for the breakfast. The food was alright in total and the economy premium seat with some extra leg space was worth every cent. All in all a very pleasant flight. The passport control took just a couple of minutes and I got my luggage within 20 minutes afterwards. A good start – and the best was that I met Meng right there in the airport. We took the subway and walked through the huge city for a while to the hotel. The traffic is something you need to get used to.. Even as a pedestrian. People are driving some funny vehicles here and sometimes also on the sidewalks. The check-in took a while and I didn’t really understand what was going on – I just guess everything was fine. 130 Euro for 4 nights is a good deal for sure. Simple hotel but all you need for sleeping.
It was just lunch time when we were ready to go and Meng found a nice lunch place in the internet. Another 20 minute walk brought us there. Seems that we were in the embassy quarter. Quite many foreigners were around. The food was great. Finally real Chinese food in China. Fried tilapia and spice tofu were especially great. (Meng didn’t want to be on the picture).
Afterwards, Meng called an Uber taxi and we went to the center. This trip was an experience. A bit like in south Italy but on 10-lane roads. Nothing works without the honking. Meng and the driver were talking non-stop. I guess she got some good tips about the sightseeing in the city.
This city was really impressive. The buildings were not very tall but massive blocks. First, we went to the Capital museum and visited an exhibition about history, porcelain sculptures and Chinese culture. It was nice but we had to rush a bit since we only had 2 hours left until they closed at five. In the lobby, I had to take selfies with two kids. Apparently this was the first time they saw a blond guy. I was warned that this might happen but I didn’t expect it so soon. But well, it was funny somhow.
Then we walked down the main road to get to the Tiananmen square and watch the flag ceremony. It was very hot and the walk was longer than expected. And the air was not the best either:
So this was pretty exhausting. The flag ceremony didn’t start before sunset and we had to wait for about 1.5 hours. If we would have known.. It was interesting to see all the people gathered here (and I had to take another selfie with a guy, who used some kind of vintage filter; I wonder what I should think about that).
The ceremony itself was not much actually. A parade of a group of soldiers, slowly lowering of the flag, taking it off, and marching back. The light and water show next to the Mao portrait was pretty nice though.
Then we took a taxi back (regular this time). We got off a bit earlier to find dinner on a small street with lots of tiny stores selling all kinds of fast foods. We kept it simple tonight and just ate noodle soup. Then we went back to the hotel, I wrote this block and was really tired after this very long first day.