Getting off the train was a breeze. Finding a bank to get some RMBs to get onto the metro was almost impossible. We spent a solid hour walking around teh busy station area (which included a bank that was under construction so the ATMs had no money and a few other cash machines out of money) until we found one in the main ticket area that had 2 working ATMs, out of 4. Also it didn't help that very few people know English.
Navigating the metro was easy, due to Beijing 2008 Olympics, but we ended up spending another 40 minutes trying to find our hostel! We finally asked three girls if they could help us and luckily they didn't try to scam us, but they did giggle a lot and had funny work uniforms on. They got us to the hostel (as the directions on the hostel websites are wrong) and we thanked them.
When we got to the hostel, they told us there was a mix up in our booking (even though I emailed them a few days before to confirm and we made reservations WAYYYY in advance), so we couldn't stay there, but they had spaces available for us at a neighbor guest house. So after walking another 15 minutes, we got to the next place (9 Dragon House). There was one other kid in the room when we walked in. His name was Rob and he was touring Asia as well. He was 2 weeks in, and started in Hong Kong and worked his way North and then he was going West and back South. Tom and I decided to go to Ti amen Square that evening to see what the festivites were for National Day.
Holy Shit. It was fracking busy. I would say that there was a bazillion people there and it would only be a half lie, as all the international tourists were ther PLUS the national tourist. Think of Washington D.C on the Fourth of July, or Paris on July 14th or Lewes on Guy Fawkes day. CRAZYYYYYYYYYY!
What was crazier though was that people were looking at us and "secretly" taking photos of us. When we started to look around, we realized that we were some of the few non Chinese people there. Intrigued, we continued "walking," took photos with chairman mao, and then some older woman asked Tom and I if I could have my photo taken with her daughter. Of course I said yes an she and Tom snapped some pictures. Now, unless you're a celebrity, you might not know what it's like, but its weird. Its weird being in a place where you are a complete minority and then people want their picture with you. For some, it might have been their first time seeing a tall, white man with a big beard or an Indian girl. We had our photos taking a few (like 15) more times in total during our time in Beijing.
The same thing happened the next day with our friend Rob when we all went to the summer palace, but we also had some girls from S Korea take photos of us as well. Rob hadn't believed us when we had told him that morning but he laughed and was a bit unnerved as well. I kept telling him that he should pretend he's a famous photographer! As I was pretending I was an actress.
That night we went to the Olympic center and unlike some of the old ones, this one was still booming and looking good. We got some more pictures taken with tourists but we couldn't go inside because of a Chinese opera going on. It wa definitely a high light.
The Great Wall is just an Alright wall, as again, it was super busy! Along with every tourist spot we went too.
The food there was great! Some things a little over priced, but otherwise, rob, Tom and I had some pretty good meals! And we had some cut Peking duck which was salty, fatty, and crispy.
Beijing was more uneventful for me, this isn't to say not to go, but just don't go during the busy times and maybe know some Chinese as well.