I climbed into my bunk pretty early last night. I thought I'd watch a TED lecture or two to wind down (though they usually get my brain wound up). Within seconds of laying my head down though, I was fast asleep. I slept so heavily I never noticed the French couple return and climb into their own bunks. I must have been super exhausted.
Today, I stepped outside to do some exploring- without a map. The streets are set up in a grid here so I figured I couldn't get too lost. The Forbidden City and Tiananmen are just a few blocks away. Turns out I immediately went in the wrong direction and ended up on a large avenue called Wangfujing. The streets are very wide here and the city flat. Sometimes, the streets seem much too big to cross (look for tunnels). Wangfujing is pleasantly closed off to auto traffic. Aside from the gray haze that blankets the city, I was enjoying my stroll through Beijing. I actually had a bit of a foolish smile on my face as I looked up at all of the enormous buildings in wonder. There's an incredible amount of construction going on for next year's Olympic games. Old buildings are being renovated or completely leveled for new ones. Cranes and scaffolding are erected on what seems like every block. Things are definitely a buzz for the games. The sound of a Chinese man singing what I assumed were some sort of patriotic or traditional songs, lured me into the Beijing Olympics flagship store. So much merchandise.
For lunch, I scarfed down another plate of fried rice (Thanks Charley, Lisa, kids! They didn't have cow liver on the menu...) before taking a nap and packing my duffel for the start of my 20-day tour tomorrow. Tonight I think I'll head out and explore a street nearby for street food. (Pin, I found a Mr. Lee's- the California Beef Noodle King- but it either hadn't opened yet or closed down. I'll keep looking)