The 798 Art Zone
We had hit most of the highlights in Beijing and we wanted to find something a little different. Ashely found an art district to check out so we decided to head that way. We weren’t really sure what we were getting into because we’re not really big art people. I was a bit reluctant but it turned out to be a really cool experience. The area was a somewhat industrial type zone where all the buildings had been gutted and turned into little shops or art galleries.
We ventured around the area and came across a large variety of art. There were spray painted walls, huge sculptures, massive art galleries, and some huge dinosaurs on the street in cages.
After we wandered around for a while, we came across a building that seemed to have an event of some sort. We ventured closer and it was free to get in so we went inside. There must have been a very famous artist because there was a lot of press there. They were all focused on 3 gentleman and I presume one was the artist. The painting he was apparently famous for was interesting…
Our last day in Beijing
Our time in Beijing was finally coming to a close. We were scheduled to take an overnight train to Xi’an on our final day but it didn’t leave until that night. We went to the train station early and found a place to drop off our bags. With time to spare, we decided to go to a war museum that was nearby. As we crossed the bridge over a very busy road, we look down and a guy had decided he’s going to stop in the middle of heavy traffic. You would think they would quickly let the person off and be on there way but that wasn’t the case. As usual in China, they selfishly stood in the road chatting and couldn’t care less they were blocking traffic.
We made our way over to the war Museum but unfortunately it was closed for renovations. However, they had a good amount of aircraft and tanks outside to take a look at. We only ended up staying for about 30 minutes since we couldn’t go inside the main part.
Since we didn’t end up spending too much time at the museum we decided to hit a nearby park. The park charged an entrance fee of 60 cents which seemed pretty odd considering it was just a public park. Walking through the park was a different experience than what we had seen in the rest of Beijing. Generally speaking everything in Beijing was run down and dirty. The park was a nice change of pace! On top of that the last day we were there also had the least amount of smog. The fresh air and seeing a clean park was definitely a nice change. We ended up walking through the entire park.
After we were done at the park, we decided to hop on the subway to get back to the train station since we had walked a good ways away from it. To give you an idea of what getting on the subway is like in Beijing. In the second picture below, note where the doors open. Also note how people line up. In China people do not let people off the the subway first. Instead, they form a wall directly in front of the door. When the doors open, they immediately rush onto the train before allowing anyone to get off. What ends up happening every single time is people are pushing and shoving both directions as each side fights each other to get on or off the subway.
We made our way back to the train station and we were happy when the bag holding service still had our bags. We retrieved our bags and made our way to the gate for boarding. There were already very few Western people in China but when we arrived at our gate I believe we were the only Western people getting on the train. We were headed to Xi’an which is located more in the central part of China as you can see in the map below. This was an overnight sleeper train so I knew we were in for an interesting night. It seemed like most of the people on the train were local to Xi’an and had simply been visiting Beijing.
The boarding call came and we made our way through the line. We managed to be towards the end of the boarding group so we were some of the last on the train. After we found our car, we made our way inside and saw a group of younger looking women standing outside their cabin. They looked at us with the look of, “oh no, please don’t be with us”. Naturally, we were in their cabin. Since neither of us could understand the other, we started the sign language process of pointing that we were in their cabin. They seemed to understand and moved their stuff to one side of the cabin leaving 2 beds to Ashley and I. Ashley and I sat on the lower bunk for a few minutes talking and then decided it would be easier to just sit in our own beds and read. This was a 4 person room with a door on the outside. I had been dreading the trip since I knew it would be awkward and we wouldn’t be able to communicate with the people in our room. After settling in everything was fine the rest of the night and it didn’t turn out to be that bad.