Beijing Hutong

Having failed so miserably the previous day because of no Internet access, I made finding a SIM for my iPad a top priority. This was not easy. By the end of the day, I had only found one single mobile shop (where do the Chinese all buy their mobiles?!) and they said the only thing on offer is 300MB of data pre-paid. This doesn’t really make sense. Everybody is watching streamed movies on their mobiles on the metro.

Anyway, today I haven’t achieved much. It’s like being cut off from everybody on the Internet slows me right down.

However, I walked around the hutong – the winding alleyways – in the old parts of Beijing for a few hours, soaking in the atmosphere. I love this part of Beijing!


I focused on Nanluogu Xiang, the most well-known street here.


What was a building site when I was here two years ago was now a very cool Starbucks outlet.


I also found my old hang-out in this area: Zarah’s Cafe. Here I discovered that my PVN was actually working! So, it’s my hotel that is blocking my VPN. I feel much better now, being able to check Facebook and upload stuff to my blog.

In the afternoon, I took the metro down to Beijing South Station, to collect my train ticket for Shanghai. It was interesting to see how many Chinese on the metro are totally glued to their smartphones every second. I think I only saw one single guy reading a paper. The trend is the same in London, but there are some people who still read the paper on the tube in London. Beijing seems to have gone completely digital.


It took me literally ten seconds to collect my train ticket when I handed over my eTicket and passport to the lady at the counter. I’m so impressed by China DIY Travel! This is lightyears from the endless problems I had buying train tickets in China two years ago.

In the evening, I met up with Kevin at the coolest Starbucks in Beijing. There’s something really comforting in having tea and a biscotti after such an exhausting arrival in China. This is my third time in China after all, so I had expected things to go pretty smoothly.



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