Because of our switch from overnight train to a quick plane-ride, we were in Beijing a night earlier then planned, so spent it at a very low end hotel near the airport (100% Perfect Hotel…a little less perfect in reality…). After a short sleep we woke up to the best day of the year – my birthday! Plus this one was extra-special as I hit a milestone! Essentially that gave me license to choose any and all things we would do for the day.
I knew that all the tourist sites I wanted to see in Beijing would be full of humans, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to ring in my birthday elbowing and nudging people to get a look at various sights for a full day, walking around in the heat and the humidity on little sleep. So I chose for us to enjoy 798 Art District; an old factory-area in Beijing that is now filled with art galleries, installations and awesome little shops! Best of all, while the place is busy, it isn’t overcrowded with crazy tourists! Every which way you turned you came upon incredible old-industrial looking buildings of bricks and rusted metal that were accented with statues, statements, graffiti…
It was a perfect birthday, browsing so many trinkets and gifts in the cute shops, playing with the light and settings on our camera to get a shot that captures the feel of the area, and enjoying refreshing drinks on the rooftop patio of a bar overlooking the area while listening to a busker singing on the street below.
To end the day, we headed back to the area near our hostel and wandered up and down Wangfujin Street before finding an incredible dumpling restaurant that Viv and Shaun had gone to 2 years ago. The dumplings were freshly made and delicious – what a great ending to a fantastic day!