Tropical heat in Beijing…

31 Aug
0

Temperature and humidity were rising even more, to almost unbearable levels (35°C with a humidity of around 90% today!), and so once again I woke up in sweat… :-/ We have air conditioning here, but we prefer not to use it while we sleep, as that’s not really healthy… So we cool the room down before going to sleep, resulting in nicer temperatures for going to bed, but that’s of course not the case anymore by the time we wake up…

 

The only thing on my schedule today was to meet a friend of mine, Weilan, in the city center. I know him since 2008 already, when I hired him as our guide for a tour with 7 friends from Belgium, and we’ve remained friends ever since. He’s a very interesting guy, who knows a lot about many different things… :-) I would meet him at the “Oriental Plaza”, the big shopping mall between Wangfujing and Dongdan, at noon… I took bus “Special 11” for that again, and departed around 11:00. (Fan stayed at home today, also because it was so hot outside…) Normally, this should have been enough, but the traffic in Beijing was not very smooth again, plus the driver was really driving the bus very slowly, even with free roads ahead… :-/ I was sitting on the upper deck of the bus, in front, so I could see everything very good… Around Dazhalan (Near Qianmen), we were even overtaken by the next bus of this line! And eventually, there was a serious traffic jam in Taijichang Street, just south of Wangfujing… Almost nothing was moving, and so we needed almost 20 minutes for a distance of about 750 meters! The worst part was the crossing of Chang’An, the biggest street through central Beijing, running from East to West. It crosses just south of the Forbidden City, at the southern entrance with the classical portrait of Mao, which is still in place (Whereas his portrait has been taken away almost everywhere else by now… Symbolic for the shift in ideology in China?), and just North of the Tiananmen square. (It’s also the place where all the military parades take place, for example at the celebration of 60 years “People’s Republic of China”, in October 2009…) Our bus needed to wait more than five minutes before it could cross, as the road was temporarily blocked by the traffic police, and it was only opened again after a string of black Audi’s with blinded windows had passed… (Almost all Chinese officials drive such cars, really remarkable…)

 

So I was a few minutes too late, but Weilan had come to the bus stop already (“Wangfujing Lukou Bei”), as the restaurant he had in mind was very near that bus stop… :-) We said hello, and we walked towards the famous “Wangfujing Bookstore”, and turned right from there. We followed the street (“Dongdan third Alley”) about 200 meters Eastwards, until we arrived at a sliding door in the wall, with a very discrete logo next to the door… :-) There were no windows, and if you don’t pay attention you will most likely miss it! We entered, and it turned out to be a very nice Japanese restaurant! Not just a sushi restaurant, but serving all kinds of Japanese food… :-) According to Weilan, the chef of this relatively small restaurant is a chef normally working in the five star hotel above the “Oriental Plaza”! He has his own restaurant here. The menu looked very promising, but as it was difficult to make a choice we had a set menu for two persons. It contained a nice salad, some skewers with beef and ox tongue, a set of sushi and sashimi (Also nigiri), and some other tasty little dishes. It only set us back 190,- RMB (21 Euro) for both of us (Excluding the drinks), which is actually a real bargain for such high quality food! :-0 So I’m sure I’ll be keeping this place in my mind as well… ;-)

 

Weilan had to go back to work afterwards, and so we went separate ways… :-)

 

I decided to start some experiments with my Holga camera’s again. So took bus 106 from Dongdan to Dongsi Bei Dajie again. The bus in Beijing costs only 0,4 RMB (Less than 0,05 Euro!), at least if you have a “Yikatong” card (Otherwise it’s 1,- RMB), a kind of chipcard in bankcard format, which you simply just need to hold near the machines in the bus. It gives a short beep then, and shows the value you still have left on your card… :-) I have mine about four years already, and have already used it quite a lot when I’m in Beijing… :-) In city busses you only need to use the card once (The standard fare of 0,4 RMB is then deducted…), but in long distance busses or “special” busses you also need to use the card when you exit the bus, thus automatically deducting the variable rate, depending on the distance… In the beginning you might not immediately know when exactly you need to use the card again when you exit, but it’s actually very easy… If the exit doors have a machine, you should use the card again, if they haven’t, you can just step out… :-)

 

I had a walk in some Hutong area’s again, and started taking pictures. But after a few pictures, I could feel a strange resistance in the camera while advancing the film!? It turned out that one of the pieces of foam inside the camera (They are used to push the film spools a little bit tight, thus holding the film firm where it is exposed…) came loose, and was moved around in the camera with the film!!! :-0 I didn’t expect that, but on very hot and humid days these “sponges” can apparently indeed come loose… :-) There’s a special Flickr group about this phenomenon, called “Holga Sponge Eaters”, showing pictures that were “ruined” this way… :-)

 

So I removed the film and the sponges in it, and tried without them… This actually worked rather well, and so I immediately brought them to the photo shop again. This time, a Kodak E200 colour slide film and a BW400CN black & white negative film was handed in… I also requested a contact print for the negative film… :-) As it was already around 15:30 at this time, the films would only be ready on the next day… I still had some free time, but decided to turn back already, as the heat was really unbearable due to the high humidity… :-/ Furthermore, the sky was now really very smoggy and grey, too… Not the nicest weather…

 

We had a calm evening, but just before we went to sleep we could hear some thunder in the distance… Would the weather finally start changing into something nicer? I hoped so, but in the mean time we needed to use the airco again to make the temperature more acceptable for sleeping…

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