Train Tickets Nightmare & Olympic Village
We woke up early and kept planning the trip. In China, it is really hard to plan a trip, because you can only buy one-way train tickets from the train station you are located at, which means you don’t know if you will get a return ticket on the dates you want. Lucky us, it was labor day holiday, when all Chinese go on vacation at the same time, I repeat ALL CHINESE, which meant that train tickets are sold out quickly. The hostel told us the hard sleeper tickets (cheapest sleeper) were sold out for the dates we wanted, the only option was to go on a hard seat (11 hours), standing (no way), or first class ($$$). We decided to go to the train station ourselves to buy the tickets… bad idea.
When we arrived to the train station, we saw a sea of people in line trying to buy tickets. We realized there was a line for tourist; however, the line was full of chinese people. We stood in line for about 20 min, watching chinese people cut in front of the line, without anyone complaining; we realized it is a common occurrence, no big deal. At the window we were told tickets were sold out for the dates we wanted, our only option was to buy tickets 2 days later and in first class, about $100 per person (out of our budget). I hesitated, and realized somebody else was already at the window in front of us…and then they closed the window…My Peruvian instinct kicked in and I CUT BACK IN LINE and they open the window for me, I bought first class tickets to Xi’an. We had already wasted all morning getting tickets; we didn’t want to waste more time.
With our first class tickets in hand, a big weight was lifted and we were ready to enjoy Beijing. As soon as we left the train station, round 3pm it started raining. We decided not to go to the Forbidden City again, it was too late and the rain wouldn’t allow us to really appreciate the site. We looked at our second hand Lonely Planet guide, we bought from the hostel, and chose the closest restaurant, because we wanted to eat good Chinese food. After about one hour walk, that’s how far everything is in Beijing, we arrived at Grandma’s Kitchen, a western food restaurant, hahaha… no Chinese food.
After Lunch, we decided to go to Beijing 2008 Olympic Village, hoping that the rain had stopped over there. When we arrived the rain had stopped and we were able to enjoy our walk. We were very excited to see the buildings. After all, seeing the Beijing Olympics on High definition helped me convince Ryan to visit China. We were able to see the inside of the cube, but only the outside of the Bird’s Nest. It was the perfect timing, we saw the village during the day, then visited the cube, and when we exit we saw the Village at night. The only down side was that it’s been only 2 years since they opened the Village and it seems like the buildings are deteriorating really fast. Enjoy the pictures we couldn’t stop taking them.
Later that day, we stopped for some dessert and candy shopping.