Our day began, much to our surprise, with a western style breakfast in our hostel. I had muesli but instead of the standard berry inclusion that normally comes with any granola-like substance my had watermelon in it! It was surprisingly tasty. (I had blended watermelon juice a while back and it was so so good.)
After navigating the somewhat circuitous and ever-expanding Beijing metro we arrived at the more than steep mountain at the foot of the Summer Palace. A lot of love for these tourist attractions quickly dwindled as we dealt with the crowds and just existed in this 95°F weather. But it was still fairly picaresque.
In the park, we saw these huge strangely weathered rocks and Lauren mentioned these were called contemplation stones. Apparently, in the middle of a monk’s garden there maybe be one of these big fellas and the monks would gaze into them because the shape of the rock was also a reflection of the shape of the universe. Whoa.
Lotte and I woke up early and said goodbye Maia and Lauren the only other Americans I know in China. (It’s a real bummer we won’t see them anymore.) Afterwards, we helped a lost Australian couple buy fast train tickets to Shanghai while waiting on our couchsurfing compatriot.
I’ve never experienced couchsurfing in the wild. I’ve always stayed with friends or relatives. This trip is going to rely heavily on this largely personally untested method of lodging. But after today, I’m really excited to see what else it has in store for us.
Enter Qian. A true blue dude that really grasps the spirit couchsurfing is shooting for. He went out of our way to show us around Beijing and even took us to Tiananmen Square. He said he felt bad because he lived so far outside of the city (almost an hour and a half) but it is so nice and quiet out here. I definitely needed this after being crammed in subways and tourist spots.