Not going for a run in… Beijing

Before I started on this trip, I got the idea into my head that it would be nice to go for a run from the hotel around the moat of the Forbidden City. I am guessing it would be a run of about six or seven kilometres. Unfortunately, an accident with my racing bike just two days prior to my leaving on vacation left me with a fractured coccyx and some very sore muscles, which definitely put an end to my idea of going for a run.

Nonetheless, this morning I decide to go for a stroll down to Tiananmen square just the same. I leave the hotel just after five in the morning. The air is still heavy with pollution, but at least it is not so hot yet. I exit the hotel and turn left onto Jinyu Hutong. Eventually I reach a big square where Wangfujing Street intersects with Jinyu Hutong. Wangfujing Street has been turned into a pedestrian area. This is where you will find all the nice glitzy shops, including a large Apple store, Prada and the likes.

I turn left into Wanfujing Street and this is where things start to become slightly bizarre. First of all, in my European naivety, I had assumed that the place would be deserted at this time of day. But in fact that is not the case at all. The place is crawling with activity and most of the benches are occupied with people sleeping. Initially I am overcome by a sense of compassion and pity, until I realise that most of them are not homeless but are just lying outside presumably to escape the stifling heat indoors. A bit further down, I come across an elderly couple playing squash against the wall of a hat maker’s shop.

I keep on walking until I reach the end of Wangfujing Street. There is a huge hotel on the corner. It has no names but its three wings are marked as A, B and C. Everything else is written in Chinese. In the front yard of the A block they have set up a German beer garden which looks completely out of place in its surroundings…

I take a right and turn onto E Changan Avenue, which leads right past Tiananmen square and separates the square from the entrance to the Forbidden City. The place is literally crawling with Chinese tourists, including one family with a penchant for the partner look…

I think maybe the heat is just getting to me and I am just imagining all this. Somewhat dazed and confused I turn back to get myself some breakfast at the hotel.

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The Peninsula Beijing

Here is the link to The Peninsula Beijing.

Apart from the fact that I just like the Peninsula hotels, I chose to stay here this time because of the hotel’s location in the centre of Beijing, in close proximity to Tiananmen square and the Forbidden City.

The hotel is still very nice, but the interior is getting a bit long in the tooth. Apparently though, the hotel recently embarked on an extensive renovation project, with the aim of making it look and feel more like The Peninsula in Hong Kong. As a result, currently only the Chinese restaurant on the second basement level is open to guests. The renovations are expected to last until 2017. As part of the refurbishment, the rooms will be doubled in size.

The hotel has excellent gym and pool facilities. There are changing rooms available in the gym and every customer receives a bathrobe, towel, slippers and a locker upon entry. Access to the lounge is free of charge for hotel guests. The gym has mainly cardio machines, but there are a few free weights and kettle weights available. The pool is only 18 metres long, which is admittedly a bit tedious if you are doing laps. But it serves its purpose and I guess it is better than nothing.

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