A Weekend in Beijing

Labor Day weekend saw myself and a gang of buddies tearing up Beijing for 3 nights. In the end, there were 9 of us who went! I was a bit concerned about traveling with such a large group, but everyone was flexible and open-minded, and we had no problem breaking up into smaller groups to do the stuff we really wanted to do.

The whole weekend gang at a Peking duck joint

Rooftop drinks our first day in the city

Confession: I'm not really interested in traveling in China. Or India for that matter, but that's another story for another day. BUT when you get a couple of friends who used to live in Beijing who say they are going to show you around all their favorite spots, how can you possibly say no?!

My friend Billy used to live around the corner,
how fitting

So our trip was more a drinking and eating tour of the city rather than cultural. I didn't go to Tiananmen Square or the Great Wall. Yikes! Because we were in a little bubble in the Sanlitun neighborhood, I had few encounters with horrifying squatter toilets, and no one spat or defecated in public that I saw, and I missed out on the hutongs. I feel like this was a teaser trip- I know I should go back and try to visit some historical sites.

The pollution was pretty terrible, as you can see

What DID we do? Brunched. Feasted on Peking Duck. Explored art galleries in the 798 district. Danced at one of the oldest night clubs in the city. Ate all you can eat teppanyaki. Drank on a rooftop on Bar Street. Accidentally stayed at a weird sex hotel. Shopped at the silk market. So it wasn't all a wash! But I think DOING stuff wasn't the point of this trip. I went just to spend time with people I like in a new setting, and we really could have been anywhere.

Really on top of our brunching game

While I don't feel a connection to China in general and Beijing didn't strike me as a place I ever want to return to, let alone live, I'm glad I went. I saw the monstrous pollution first hand. I got a sense of the layout of the city and saw its more eclectic side. I encountered people who I had previously thought as oppressed living much more openly than I expected. My time in Asia is winding down; I'm fairly certain I've only got a year left in me, but I'm not sure I would return to Beijing when I've still got places like Seoul and Singapore to check out.  

And finally- the most China manicure ever.
PANDAS!

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