On Wednesday night, I took the train from Changsha to Beijing with my mother's college classmate. Chinese trains are so fun because instead of seats they have beds in little compartments.
This is known as the "soft sleeper," as opposed to the "hard sleeper" which has three cots, one on top of the other instead of two. We left Changsha around 6 on Sunday night and arrived bright and early in Beijing at 7 am.
After settling down in our hotel, I immediately went exploring with Carol, a friend from Yale. We met at her university and then walked to the Olympic Park. It took a long time as we wandered around the perimeter, trying to find the Bird's Nest, but we eventually achieved our goal.
I was really surprised at how expensive it was to get into the Bird's Nest comparatively. There was no charge to enter the Olympic Park, but it cost 60 yuan just to enter the stadium.
Later I visited a famous Beijing bookstore. It had probably five or six floors and basically any type of book you could think of. Additionally, there was artwork and DVDs and CDs.
At night I went to eat a Beijing specialty with another friend Wendy. We ate huoguo or hotpot. It is the same concept as fondue, except you cook raw foods such as meat and vegetables in a various types of broth. You also have your own sauce to dip the foods into after they are cooked. We chose a spicy broth on one side of the pot and a clear mushroom broth on the other. The pot was in the shape of a yin-yang symbol.
The foods we chose out of an extensive booklet included lamb, beef, spinach, mushrooms, and noodles. There were also interesting foods that we did not pick, such as tongue and tripe. Then after some shopping in a higher-end, modern district of the city, it was time for me to journey back to the hotel.