Ling’s visa story let us three other nights in Beijing because the next flight was on the 1st. Finding a place to stay in such a huge city is not an easy task! We spent 2 hours in the airport before we find a hotel not so expensive, not so far from the center! As we weren’t satisfied with it, we spent other hours the day after to find a last hotel for the 2 remaining nights: Anna and Ling stayed in a better hotel (~270 RMB a night) while I chose a hostel nearby for 90 RMB a night, almost double the price I paid at the hostel close to the Forbidden city (50 RMB). We indeed chose places closer to the bar streets for better night life.
The strong controlled China was again some trouble for Ling: she could not get into the hotel like that because she left the original passport in the Thailand Embassy. She had to go to the police to let her identity checked! Only then, she was accepted in the hotel.
And it seems her visa story was kind of fun as well: she hadn’t all the papers required for the application, but she needed the day after. So she simply paid about twice the price of the visa to that the Thai Embassy accepts her application! Express fee and some baksheesh obviously!
We basically spent the whole day with this hotel stuff on the 30th. Martin joined us later but because of the heavy rain, we just stay in a mall close to the metro station. We ended up in an Irish pub where we ordered cocktails and I finally offered a round of shooters to celebrate my birthday at midnight.
The 31st of July 31, 2012 was a wet birthday: it was raining all the day! Really: it was raining maybe 38 hours of the 40 hours between the 30th in the evening and the 1st of August at noon!
It was not easy to motivate myself for a visit under rain, but I did want to get something from these 2 days more in Beijing! So I spent 4 to 5 hours in the Temple of Heaven, dedicated to the sacrifices done by the emperor of the Ming dynasties and after. The Round Altar with the multiplication table of 9 was quite interesting. Like in the Forbidden City, the standard halls are not opened to the public; you can just put your head through the door. However, they are very crowded. In the additional halls on the west side (extra ticket), you can enter into them, making them more interesting, especially when you are sometimes alone there! I liked especially the exhibition of traditional music instruments, where you can even try them. Actually, I supposed it is authorized since I did not saw any Forbidden sign (and Chinese do know how to make them!), the few Chinese tourists were playing and the guards did not say anything.
Later around 6pm, I met Anna and Lingli for diner, joined by a friend of Lingli: they were in college together.
While Lingli’s friend had to go home, we went to the Sanlitum area for party. We started at Hai club but wondered if it was a gay party. Then enjoyed the mixed Youth Club visited by many Chinese and other Asian people. And we had our last drink in the pub “first floor” which had a majority of western guests. Their beer menu is quite impressive: from Belgium, Czech, Germany, USA, Canada, Australia, etc. But I preferred to have a cognac, for the memories of the French team we were in Regensburg, we had some there with Thomas and Olivier! As in Germany, the barman was not sure how to serve it in Beijing, so I had to show them the Hennesy VSOP bottle in their bar, and ask for the special glass.
Coming around 4am in the hostel, I found some more energy to fix my websites: my provider changed the database server exactly on my Birthday, putting my blogs and galleries out of line for some hours 🙁 Sorry for all the visitors wanted to check it on that day!