Aug 16, 2008

The Grand Adventure (Or Why I Love Google)

So Google Maps is awesome. They've recently completed a map of Beijing, and we didn't realize it until last week. We've never had a really great map of the city, which has played a role in our inability to explore the city. That, and a lack of independence.

Well, in her blogging debut, meet our scooter, the Vogue Tasty Racer. (Picture coming soon.) That's what it says in English on the side of it... not sure what it means, but oh well. Anyway, we got it in April, and it has made us so much happier, because we finally have a little independence. The fact that its motor is slightly smaller than your average lawn mower... well, it's a source of frustration for Jacob, but I don't mind so much. We've explored all over the country side (some interesting stories about that, but I'll save them for another post), and even go into the edge of Beijing to eat at KFC (the closest western restaurant around).

Well, back to Google Maps. We figured out that a Subway station is only about 7km further up the road from the KFC we frequent. This was revolutionary news! We couldn't take our little scooter all the way into Beijing -- we would be risking our lives in that traffic, and we'd possibly end up so lost that someone would have to come and bail us out. But, we could manage to get 7km further up the road and to a Subway station! So that's what we did... We carefully wrote down all of the instructions using Google Maps combined with Google Earth so that we could see landmarks (turn right at the canal... turn left at the giant apartments...) -- And voila! It was our first "real date" since we've been here because we didn't have a driver or anyone else waiting on us. We just wandered around the city at our own pace... even found an English language bookstore... and we topped the night off with our FAVORITE FOOD IN THE WHOLE WORLD... middle eastern food, at a fantastic restaurant called 1001 Nights. Here are some pictures from our date in BJ.

The Olympics have brought an abundance of Chinese, English-speaking volunteers to the city... they are everywhere! In Subway stations (top group), on street corners (bottom picture), and they are incredibly helpful, friendly, enthusiastic, and kind. Way to go, China, on this one! If only they'd stick around after the Olympics... it sure makes our lives easier! :) They even have a group of volunteers who don't speak English but wanted to help -- they are devoted to helping the foreigners cross the busy streets... an Olympic-like test of courage and determination in its own right.


Thankfully the subways weren't that busy. Only once or twice did we think we were going to get smothered by the crowds. A "busy" subway means there really isn't room for a single other person, and then at the next stop 15 more get on. They get so crowded you literally can't move. But, this was generally how they looked today. Another thing that's cool about the Olympics is that Beijing kicked their infrastructure-building into overdrive, and in the last couple of months, several new subway lines opened, nearly doubling the total subway routes. Way to go, Beijing!


At the restaurant with our amazingly-good food. We had a buttery and nutty hummus unlike anything we've ever had... among other things. Yum! It was really a pleasant and beautiful day in Beijing.

4 comments:

Chris & Jane said...

I liked this post for two reasons: it reminded me of how I was going to wait on the corner to cross the street in China until...well, I don't know when, but I wasn't going to bail out there--and some friendly Chinese girls were definitely needed; and, the food looked yummy. The hummus was the right color and everything. Cheers to the new scooter! And first dates!

sara said...

What an awesome date night! The food DOES look yummy!

Greg And Kimberley Byrd said...

Date night??? Let me try and imagine what that would be like....

Glad you guys had a great time....we need MORE pictures of Sara!!!!

Brian Gallimore said...

I would really like so see some detail pictures of your ride!

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