Destinations Magazine

Surprise, Surprise: Beijing, China!

By Josephharrison1990 @JTAH_1990

Truly, I knew that my final day in Beijing would be something of a 'Surprise, Surprise!' QR Codes had become something of a theme, I had secured my entrance to the 'Temple of Heaven' but I wasn't aware of a certain barrier that was ahead of me. Chance encounters, that snatched meeting made everything better! Rediscovering 'Destination' on a Monday felt correct! Surprise! 

Surprise, Surprise: Beijing, China!

Me and Beijing's 'Temple of Heaven' had some history between us, my original visit in 2018 didn't go completely to plan and 2020's chance was another non-starter! Even with the rain almost calling the whole thing off, I made sure that my QR Code had been secured for that humid but dry August morning. I didn't rush from my Hanting Hotel because I chose the second visiting time, arriving at the 'Temple of Heaven's' own Beijing Subway Station with enough time to spare felt correct. I wasn't fazed by the amount of people, I had one shot and needed to make it happen, I stayed in my lane and minded my P's & Q's. The rain had thankfully left Beijing alone according to the days weather forecast, I felt confident enough not to take an umbrella with me. Not messing around, I passed through the correct entry points with not a moment to lose! 'The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests' was my only wish to visit, I paid attention to my location because I wanted that third chance to be successful! Going for gold, I carried on forth! 

Right on time I passed through the entrance to my desired Beijing attraction, the crowds didn't bother me because once I had arrived the photo above was my only concern. Clocking the famous temple scene, I knew that I needed to walk around in an anti-clockwise direction and then over to the opposite side if I wanted to get my chosen photo. I did what I needed to do, I loved that legendary Beijing landmark because I was able to finally be present enough to have all of my ish together! Those previous errors had been life-lessons for me to confront and correct, it felt right that I had snapped the above photo because almost five years had passed since that unfruitful first visit to Beijing's Temple of Heaven. After ducking and diving through the maddening crowds, I exited only after my photo had been captured. Moving on through the exit made me feel relieved, I had almost escaped the crowds but most importantly I had fulfilled another Beijing request! Breakfast wasn't on my mind, I needed some serious caffeine! 是, 北京! 

Surprise, Surprise: Beijing, China!

Beijing's many Hutong alleys had made those Capital living summers, as if I had not had enough the previous day, I returned to another Hutong after I had visited the Temple of Heaven. Paying homage to my 'fancy pants' food tour that I had treated myself to in November 2019, I resurfaced from Beijing Subway's Line 2 at 'Fuchengmen' with my eyes peeled. My caffeine fix needed to be addressed before I looked for those former 'foodie stops', I wouldn't be forgetting anything! 'Polonio' was hiding from me? Quite possibly so! After walking into that also 'fancy pants' coffee shop, well it had me remembering Beijing's 'Soloist Coffee Co. that I had enjoyed during 2019. Ordering a simple 'Latte' sounded like a plan to me, deciding instantly that I wanted a slice of the 'Almond Cake' was a done deal for me. I wanted to enjoy my coffee and cake on the roof top, you already know that view came with a certain 'price tag!' Taking that tray upstairs took all of my co-ordination and then some, the steps were steep! Sure, all for the blog! 

The view from 'Polonio's' rooftop impressed me much, I was able to see the stupa of the nearby 'White Pagoda'. Taking my sweet time, I enjoyed the view along with my coffee shop purchases. Supercharged after that iced latte, the delicious slice of cake certainly filled a space. It was great to spend a little bit more time on that rooftop because I wanted to soak up that once previously visited Hutong area. The weather had me running for some sweet air conditioning, I appreciated the coolness of the side room that was also located on the roof. The price didn't matter, I made every single second of that experience count and then some! Yes, after I left 'Polonio' I was able to see two of the previous 'breakfast' locations that my morning food tour with 'Lost Plate Food Tours' had served me. So sneakily early afternoon had arrived, I was about to be given a curve ball but that unplanned happening would put me in good stead. With the Temple of Heaven clocked, I had wanted to get another key landmark or two visited! Oh B, those pesky QR Codes! 

Surprise, Surprise: Beijing, China!

From 'Fuchengmen' I headed towards 'Tiananmen Square' with the hope to visit the 'National Museum of China'. The previous visit to that former square of national importance had been through a tour company, four years on I would find out for myself that a guide would've put me on the right track if used in 2023! Sure, certain eventualities seemed to have made visiting anywhere of major importance in Beijing post-Pandemic impossible without a valid QR Code. I was so proud of myself, I had asked one of the security personnel why that precious QR Code stood with such a high level of importance. I admitted that both my visit to Beijing's 'National Museum of China' and 'Lama Temple' wouldn't happen during that August 2023 trip. Calmly walking away from that situation, I saw that experience as the perfect reason to visit Beijing again soon! I called upon my friend Jun, he had decided to cancel his trip to Shandong Province, I saw this new found gap in time as an opportunity. Clearly, mistakes didn't exist that day! No!

I must admit that I had acquired a severe case of tunnel vision during that sector of my summer holiday, I had only just that morning asked Jun if he would have any spare time that evening. Being my last evening spare before my departure to Wuhan, I was sad to hear that Jun had already made plans. I apologised for my own inability because I had not contacted him sooner, the world works in strange ways because due to my lack of QR Codes and Jun's spot of spare time, a reunion was possible! Meeting for lunch, it was crazy to think that his office was only a few minutes walk from my nearest Line 7 stop, choosing that Hanting Hotel had not been for nothing! Eating some familiar Beijing noodles was perfect but meeting Jun again for the first time in over four years was priceless! We visited his work location, undoubtedly his hands kept him busy because I can still remember that amazing Chinese massage that he had given me in 2018! With Jun moving to Canada, I pledged to him that we would next be reunited in Canada! 

Surprise, Surprise: Beijing, China!

After bidding a fond farewell to Jun, I found myself strategically located at Tuan Jie Hu Subway Station. I wanted to grow from those previous occasions, I had selected to spend my Monday evening within that former party area for a reason. I walked past some of my previous weekend haunts, my head and liver knew better in 2023 to not make those same 2019 choices. SOHO hit different, I had frequented that mixed use shopping development several times when I had lived in Beijing. I laughed to myself as I walked through the main walkway that cut in the middle of that development, sure those memories were spicy indeed! I was certain that the same shenanigans wouldn't be during that 2023 visit, although I did scan a bike like I had done before many times, it felt correct to ride that bike down the same backstreets to a once regular haunt! That short bike ride hit different but everything looked just the same, I lived for that piece of Beijing nostalgia! Luckily, the Pandemic had not caused 'Destination' to close! Baby, not at all! 

Knowing full well that no club nights of any importance occur on a Monday, I opted to have some food and a few drinks at the adjoining 'DesMix' instead. I wanted to appreciate that part of Destination with a slightly sober time, getting back to my old ways wasn't on the cards nor will it ever be! I loved the atmosphere at DesMix, it was chilled and I appreciated that. I enjoyed the mushroom pasta dish, making the best of that special deal, I chose to drink a 'Destination Blue'. That mixed blue drink had been my beverage of choice or my poison during those shameless Beijing nights at Destination. In the future, I know that I will return during a weekend to experience a 2020 something night out at Destination in Beijing. Having two more cocktails was a no-brainer but after those drinks I took a taxi back to my hotel, sure my faculties were fully intact! Sure, Beijing dealt me a few anomalies but I overcame those bumps in the road. After not holding anything back, Beijing served several 'Surprise, Surprise' moments! B, it's giving chaos! 

See You Soon...! 

Desperately Seeking Adventure

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