Prairie Dogging Beijing

It's Thursday, November 12, 2009, an unusually cold, snowy winter day in Beijing. Our itinerary, sponsored by the National Museum of China, calls for a tour of the Forbidden City. Beijing seems endless, and I want to get off the tourist route and see if I can get a feeling for this great city of more than seventeen million people. So I take off on my own journey.

Our group of seven is staying at the Dongjiaominxiang Hotel just east of Tiananmen Square. I inquire at the desk (in English) for the location of the nearest subway station and walk five blocks to the subway entrance pictured below.

It's an impressive escalator to sub-Beijing and at the bottom I buy a ticket for 3 yuan (about 33 cents). There are lots of people waiting for trains and many more walking hurriedly to other platforms.

I take a moment to see if I can get oriented and figure out what to do next. There's a diagram on the wall, which I study for awhile, and decide I'll just jump on the next train nearest me and go from there.

It's standing room only and a young fellow offers me his seat! I wave him off, but he motions insistently, so I thank him and take the seat.

Wow, there's an electronic marker over the door which shows exactly where we are, all of the stops along the way and the east/west transfer stations. I'm on the north/south line, going north, and it's twenty stops to the end. I decide I'll ride to the north end, take a look about and then "prairie dog " my way back.

After about twelve stops the train emerges to run above ground with five more above ground stops to the end. It's takes about 45 minutes to reach the end of the line and very few people are left on the train.

The station, however, is busy with people boarding the inbound train.

I walk outside.

OK, What next?

Click Here to Continue