Not Forbidden anymore

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Waking up hungry, and intent to eat more than one real meal per day, we packed our things and sought breakfast. The hotel staff was no help (we didn’t come to China to eat at McDonald’s, KFC, and Starbucks, thanks!) We only had to walk a few blocks AWAY from the shiny storefronts to find a place with rice porridge and dumplings, though. No menus, just A’s “vegetarian” card and pointing.

Afterwards, we walked to the Forbidden City. Like the Great Wall, I was impressed by the scale of it. I was also impressed (negatively) by the crowds. We didn’t have much time, since we needed to catch our train, but we got to walk through from South to North. Due to the crowds and the possibility that we’d want to take pictures of different things, A and I split up, with plans to reconvene at the hotel. I would’ve liked to see the clock & watch exhibit but it was back near the South end and it wasn’t clear how to get there.

At the exit, I made my way past the guys trying to sell books (when I say I don’t want it, the correct answer is NOT a repeated cycle of “how much?” followed by lower and lower prices) and bike taxi rides (ditto). Next came the sad spectacle of deformed men sitting on the sidewalk, singing karaoke for change. Many of them were missing their left arms from the shoulder, with their shirts off to show their scars.

After the forbidden city (now called the “Palace Museum”), I wound up heading back to the hotel, wandering again through the Hutongs. It’s fascinating to see how different things look just 2 blocks off the main drags.

A had made it back a few minutes before me to finish packing, and we checked out and took a taxi to the Beijing south station. There, we got some food to go (with the help of a girl from New Jersey who spoke Chinese), and took the train back to Shanghai.

We found our hotel with no problem, and enjoyed the walk down a smaller street with lots of street food venders and small kiosk shops. For dinner (3rd real meal of the day!), we popped into one of the places with a picture menu and some “English” descriptions (some of which were helpful), and then went back to the hotel so A could spend some time polishing her presentation.

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