So…after a huge couple of days of hiking (the volcano and the temple of heaven) we decided a nice quiet day at the zoo was on the menu. So we hopped on the Beijing metro and about 25 stops, 3 train changes and a short walk we were at the zoo. At this point I really must stress how simple the Beijing rail system is. A train comes every 2 mins, the maps are simple, english and Chinese characters and announcements for a sum total of 2 yuan (about 30-40 cents per trip) no matter how far you go.
The zoo cost 40 Yuan ($7-8) per person and we headed in…we turned left to avoid the Panda rush upon entry only to find that we walked about 45 mins without seeing a single animal other than enclosures under repair, closed paths and concrete moulds of the animals that were meant to be there. We did find the water fowl exhibit which had 2 sad looking ducks and some blow in crows who were poaching the food that was laid out for the real animals. After many derogatory comments from me and complaints about attending “Piss weak world” we came across the penguin enclosure (which required an additional 10 yuan ($2)). Upon entry we saw no penguins but a bank of goldfish, the comments escalated. Then all of a sudden OMG penguins.
From this point on the zoo got good. There were some logical issues whereby if you enter the exhibit labelled African animals you actually find yourself in the reptile and amphibian house. Once you actually find the animals and ignore the signage it is pretty damn awesome. I saw a bunch of animals that you only get to see on TV documentaries along with the obligatory zoo style ones that we have in OZ like the giraffes and rhinos, tigers and elephants etc. And of course there were the giant Pandas. Claudia would have killed us if we did not post our Panda pics.
From here there was a boat ride to the Summer Palace so we jumped on the boat. A 50 minute ride up the Beijing canal and Lock system (which I never even knew existed) and we arrived at the Summer Palace. We were a little tired after the zoo hike and found ourselves at the extreme end of the Summer Palace grounds (a 720 acre property on the outskirts of Beijing). After walking for about 3kms around the lake towards the palace and still being about the same distance away we decided that we would come back on a day when we were fresher.
We stopped at a restaurant for a late lunch and a few points were solidified:
1. I should never be allowed to order if I am hungry.
2. I am only allowed to order 2 meals initially.
3. I have been banned from ordering any more than one dish with Chilli in any seating.
After 6 dishes were delivered to the 2 of us (3 of which were Brad and Mike Chilli specials) we set the above rules in place. One of the meals was Chilli donkey and garlic. It was pretty good. This was washed down with a new local ale ( Yanjing Beer) which was pretty good and ranked a solid 6/10. At this point I need to make a comment about the percentage of alcohol changing between different bottle sizes. If you buy the 500ml bottle it is 8% but if you buy the 600ml bottle of the same it is 3.6% and if you buy the one with Chinese and not english characters it is different again.