AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Suzhou to Beijing


Posted on Jun 21, 2014

We had booked another G train (the high-speed train) from Suzhou to Beijing. Suzhou is the second station on the line between Shanghai and Beijing. This is the famous Jinghu High-Speed Railway. The line is 1,300km long (819 miles) and on it is the world’s longest bridge, spanning 164km (102 miles). The train line also crosses the second longest bridge in the world which is 70 miles long. As usual the train was quiet by Chinese standards and pretty comfortable. The whole length of the track is raised about 10m above the ground on huge concrete pillars and it’s almost like flying very close to the ground. We glided just above the Chinese countryside in comfort and arrived in Beijing in the mid afternoon. Beijing has a huge metro system and the hostel we’d booked was literally outside a metro station. Riding the Beijing metro is very easy, all signs and announcements are in English and it’s a flat rate 2 RMB (20p) to go anywhere in the city. At the hostel we had to wait 10 minutes for the guy to check in a group of 4. Finally when he got to us he told us the room was unavailable and spouted some crap about the fire department declaring it was safe and the hostel just had to get it ready. Based on his questions about when had we made the booking and stating the booking hadn’t come through till that morning it’s more likely they’d double booked the room. Either way he had a replacement hostel down the road ready for us. The replacement hostel was pretty good and had the tour we wanted (to the Great Wall) for less than the first hostel, so we decided to stay there for the whole time we’d be in Beijing. It was now time to eat and we found a really nice sounding restaurant. Ignoring the budget we decided it would be a nice treat. The restaurant was an organic vegetarian restaurant serving western food. Annemarie had a bean burger and I had tomato pasta. We both had chocolate cake for pudding. Washed down with some cider it was a very nice meal. It was also one of the most expensive we’ve eaten on the trip. Posted from Qingdao, Shandong,...

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Suzhou

Suzhou


Posted on Jun 20, 2014

We arrived in Suzhou just before 8am on the overnight train from Huangshan. Suzhou has a small metro network and we’d booked a hostel not too far from a metro station. It took a bit longer than expected to find the hostel because I missed the road and walked 5 minutes further down the road. At the hostel we checked in and were immediately given a room. We’d paid 10 RMB (£1) extra for a garden view. The garden was 5m long, 3m wide and was ringed by a 3m high wall. The walls and ground were concrete and the only greenery was a tree in the corner. Not exactly a garden! We hadn’t eaten on the train so we ordered breakfast in the hostel. Whilst eating we planned our next moves. I’d originally thought of staying two nights in Suzhou to see everything there (everyone we’d spoken to raved about the city and told us we must go). But the hostel was fully booked and we didn’t care that much about staying to move hostels because we’d have all today and most of the next day to see the city anyway. That meant our first task would be a trip to the train station to book tickets for the train the next day (trains are very busy in China and you must book in advance). Tai’Shan was the next place we wanted to visit and we had two options, take the overnight train which arrived in Tai’Shan around 5am or take the high speed train to Jinan or Tai’An and get another train to Tai’Shan. The latter option costs a fair bit more and takes most of the day to travel. The first option has us arriving at an awful time. Eventually after looking at all the options we decided to get the high speed train to Beijing and then go back down to Tai’Shan on the slower train which arrives at a reasonable hour. This plan was fine because we had to come back down south as we planned to leave China by ferry from Qingdao. With the rest of our route in China planned we could leave the hostel and start seeing the city. We took the metro back to the train station and bought the tickets for Beijing. The train station wasn’t too far from The Humble Administrator’s Garden and we could walk that. Outside the train station is a city gate and part of the city wall. Like almost everything else in China it’s a reconstruction, the original was destroyed when some people followed the orders of a psychopath leader who thought that culture...

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