Getting breakfast:

We left at 7 am to explore our area, which was really lovely with lots of locals going to work, students going to schools, and just quiet little alleys.

After a good half hour we found our first street vendor and had a spring onion crepe, walked a bit more, enjoyed nice sunny yet cold weather and got back. We were trying to find a supermarket of some sort to buy some tea and coffee, but there were only convenience hole-in-the-wall stores with beer, cigarettes, some meat snacks. The only coffee we could find was Nescafe 3 in 1 and bottled tea stuff – both options way too sweet for us. So at this point we were kind of regretting not packing more stuff into our 6kg snackpack!

Google beforehand:

So far: no traffic, rather clean, good weather, tasty food, and polite people. Only a few spitters. The most exciting thing – electric bikes. Most unexciting – no info in English on the internet! Among the very limited search results that Bing returns, more than half of the pages don’t open. So what you’re left with are mostly the sites from Chinese government, but luckily at least Trip Advisor and Wiki travel aren’t blocked.

The interesting thing is that at every metro station you have to put your bags through a scanner and walk through detectors yourself – just like at the airport! At the Tianmen metro stop we went up, and straight away went back inside the metro. There was YET another security check to actually pass through to the enormous public area where the famous square is. Yes, we know it’s a “must see” square. But when we saw thousands and thousands of Chinese tourists flocking through the security gates like a herd of sheep we didn’t think twice before turning back. The weather was screaming to chill and enjoy the sunshine and blue skies. Tourist groups… In China they don’t just have a guide with a flag and a microphone at the front, they take it to the next level – the group members all have matching caps and some groups even matching jumpers!

This is the first trip where we wished we had planned every single detail while we were still in Thailand. Usually we use the travelling time (planes, trains, waiting at the airports and stations) to plan the nitty gritty stuff, but here, thanks to the Great (Fire)wall of China, we had no access to any non-mainstream information. Simply finding a supermarket was a half-day task. The whole shopping area with the supermarket is around the Wangfujing metro stop, and we haven’t really seen any fruits or vegetables being sold anywhere on the streets.*


Coffee shops, or coffee in general, aren’t as trendy as we thought. However you can find it if you do your research, but it’s more expensive than in central Bangkok. Starbucks is a good indicator for that.

Khao San R… Jing:

The government website claimed that Wangfujing Street is good for shopping. This apparently famous shopping / walking street is almost the Khaosan road of Beijing, but worse – almost every food stand had live baby scorpions on sticks, and those poor little things were still wiggling. Yuuuuuck!

We spent a good hour… there it goes – shopping… at H&M! Did I say an hour? I meant a century. We didn’t think it will be this cold in the morning so we had to buy thick socks, but we (she) bought many different tops, and of course no socks. I would’ve spent this time checking emails or replying to people on Facebook, but we’re in China. You really only have a choice of either fancy malls with Starbucks and fashion wear, or soviet constructions with sovietwear, so we headed back to Starbucks.

(almost) Scam:

It was a reward after waiting for Auste shopping in H&M for twelve years. At this point I realised that I will survive without the thick socks. As she was queuing to pay (also for another million years!) I went outside to check where else we could go, and one young woman approached me with a “Hello”, followed by “Where you’re from?”. Showing no interest and walking past, I could hear a quick “No rush, have a beer?” hahaha. No thanks Chinese lady, I’ve heard about your scams! Before coming here we saw a video where a guy explained how you end up at an expensive bar with her and her friends, they sneak out to the toilet, and you can’t leave unless you pay an extortionate bill. Tip: definitely read/watch about scams in China before you come here! (Straightforward American guy and a relatively famous (Australian/British?) expat)

Not too western:

In general, transport, food and clothing prices from international shops seem similar to Thai. And everyone takes pictures and videos of everything: streets, take off, landing, foods, dogs, sky. And quite often of you, if you stay idle for over 20 seconds, not even that, they blatantly take pictures of you even if you just walk in public.

So after our coffee break we carried on shopping. Well, just browsing through clothing. Urban fashion looked quite appealing, and we saw lots of stylish people. So far our Beijing experience can be summed up in 3 words: H&M, Starbucks, and Forever21. Oh well. The thing is that we can’t google anything specific, so we end up paving the “government-approved” streets. You think we could have asked our hostel staff for recommendations, but don’t forget we’re in China, in budget accommodation, and we don’t speak Chinese. We were hoping that at least the young staff in Starbucks would speak English, but … you guessed it! They did manage to explain that there is a supermarket across the street though, where we finally bought some veggies, more snacks, noodles and coffee. Yes, a full 250g pack of real coffee. No more instant stuff! Tip: for train travel or visiting rural areas, bring your own coffee. Hot water is ubiquitous!

*Right after I wrote the last sentence we saw a man with a cart full of different type of vegetables as we were heading back to our hostel! And the veggies were delicious, really full of flavour: we bought green peppers, tomatoes, and fresh peas. While we wouldn’t have dreamed of finding such fresh goodies, a two minute walk from our hostel (to the opposite direction from where we went in the morning) was a greengrocers… We bought tons of cheap, amazingly delicious strawberries, nectarines, mangos, radishes and other stuff. This was on top of our fare from the shop and the alley-veg-man. Wow wow wow. This was like the healthiest start to a holiday. Except for the white chocolate almond croissant we had at Starbucks, which wasn’t that good haha!