Back from my weekend jaunt to Beijing! There's lots to tell, so I'll break it up into a few entries, as not to overwhelm my loyal readers.
Friday night was spent eating Xinjiang food (spicy, noodle-y, delicious) with other PiA-ers and then going out to a bar, which I was not in the mood to do. I had been up since 6:30, taught two classes, took a plane to Beijing, and had all my stuff for the weekend in a backpack, which was awkward to schlep around. I really just wanted to relax and socialize, not get drunk, plus the bar we went to was like a terrible overseas version of Rick's. The neighborhood seemed filled with the stereotype of obnoxious, inebriated, young American ex-pats. It was gross. I was not feeling it.
However, Saturday I woke up with a spring in my step, and went out to attack the city. It was a cold, but beautiful day. I took the subway from Wu Dao Kou, where I was staying, to Zhang Zi Zhong Lu. The subway system is easy to navigate, but it still took me a while, since Beijing is pretty spread out. Once I hopped off at my destination, I went looking for some hutongs to wander around in. Hutongs are little narrow alleyways, courtyards, and residences, mostly found in Beijing. They're hundreds of years old, and while many have been razed to make room for developments, many still exist.
It was a quiet walk through the historic hutongs, and I didn't spot too many tourists, which was nice. The only indication that it's a real hotspot were the public restrooms that dotted the streets,. They're squat toilets with no doors, which meant I walked in on a bunch of middle-aged women hanging out, peeing together, but that's pretty par for course here in China.
Next up: I visit a fantastic art space! Eat classic Beijing food! Make new friends! And more!