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We were all feeling OK despite the lack of sleep – even Daji said he was fine after being sick during the night. After light breakfasts, we decided to walk to the two parks we’d enjoyed so much on our last trip – on either side of the Forbidden City. The Workers’ Cultural Palace and the Zhongshan Parks.

Unfortunately the former was being renovated so there was no access, but we spent a very pleasant and leisurely few hours wandering around, enjoying the newly planted flowers and cherry blossoms which had just sprung out. Again this is a park that is more or less unknown by the tourists, who flock to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City - both of which were totally packed as we passed them.

We made our way back to the hotel via the park and canal that runs parallel to Dongehang'an Jie, hidden by a red brick wall - it was late afternoon and hot now. At the hotel we rested, Lene wrote some cards and Yanmei and Daji played Gameboy. We decided to eat at a restaurant at the far end of the Baofang Hutong called Cafe 9. The food was excellent and whilst the clientele was 90% Chinese, there were a few foreigners - some who seemed to live in Beijing. Steven was still having problems with his right hand, but was getting fairly proficient at using chopsticks in his left hand.

We walked a little bit around the area before walking back though the Hutong. A loud discussion was taking place between a family in a car and the locals. Suddenly the driver sped off at high speed through the Hutong, which is highly dangerous given the number of people on the street and how narrow the roads actually are. Several people were running after the car which was eventually forced to stop and a big crowd surrounded the car, officials trying to calm down the driver and his family, people calling the police etc. Finally after threatening everybody the family jumped into the car and drove off – at a more moderate speed this time.

NEXT DAY (14th)