Qianmen 前门

Yesterday, it rained. And kept on raining. It was raining when I woke up, and rained all day until after I went to bed. It cooled things down, at least, and although it was rain, it wasn’t particularly cold, as I found out when I went to get some fruit in the morning, and got a little wet (and a good few funny looks, with me in my coat, hood up, and shorts on, walking to the shop). Most people here have umbrellas.

This morning, everything was clean and crisp, and as I walked to the subway, I saw armies of street cleaners, sweeping up water. The drainage system in Beijing isn’t brilliant and so as it rains streets become a little flooded. Four, five, even six of them all working together and sweeping up water.

Today, I was going to see a former student, from last year. He is now in Senior 2, and had a bit of free time before class begins next week. He is a hard-working student, one of my favourite, and he frequented the foreign teacher office a lot last year. In fact, by the end of the year, he became a common sight in there, and all the foreign teachers knew him.

We went to Qianmen 前门, at the bottom of Tiananmen Square. I knew of the station, and had been to the China Railway Museum there before, but I didn’t know much else about it. There was a traditional-era street which I didn’t know about, as well as some hutongs (lit. narrow alley). He wanted to have lunch in a favourite restaurant of his, where there are dumplings but they are special ones – they look a little like flowers.

It was nice to see him and chat to him about his holiday to Europe over the summer (he went to Switzerland, Italy and France), and we also bought some Chinese snacks for me to try (I’m not sure what they will taste like; I avoided the green tea-flavoured ones). Six different types of snacks, so if I get hungry over next few days, I will have something to eat.

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