We spend our last whole day in Beijing strolling round Central Beijing. We walked to Tiananmen Square where I bought a old fashioned Chinese/Russian winter hat. We had been stared at before but nothing like when I had the hat on. Later we were told that the Chinese connect the hat with Chairman Mao and his followers. We were also approached by several Chinese people that wanted us to pose with them on photos. We felt like rock stars but somehow this was a strange and surreal experience.
After checking out Tiananmen Square and the surrounding buildings we walked to Jingshan Park. The park is located on a small hill, 45 m. above the very flat surroundings, just behind the Forbidden City. There seems to be an (small) entrance fee where ever you go here but and we paid 2 Yuan to get in (15 cent). The view from the top of the hill was great! We saw over the Forbidden City and basically all over Central Beijing – or as far as the smog allowed us – and this was something we should have done on day one for sure.
Before heading in for the night we had a wonderful Pizza at Hutong Pizza a well hidden Beijing treasure. In the morning it was time to train to Xi’an. We had to postpone our departure to Xi’an for one day because the Hard Sleeper class we wanted was full. The west train station in Beijing is huge but very well organized. Right in the lobby there was a big sign telling us which of the twelve waiting rooms to use and forty minutes before departure we were allowed to check in.
The train had double decker coaches and each floor had about twelve open cabins with four bunk beds – two lower and two upper. We bought upper bunk tickets both because they were cheaper but also because we had heard that it would be easier to sleep in the top beds.
The train ride was twelve hours and went by pretty quickly. It was very easy to sleep in the nice beds. Even though they were a little hard they were way better than the buses in Thailand. We found us in Xi’an at 06:20 in the morning – roaring to go.