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.