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Yet again we slept late and before we'd eaten breakfast it was almost lunch time. We walked north, it was cold and fairly sunny, but we were wishing we'd bought some warmer clothes. We took a taxi and headed for Factory 798, a massive art complex about 10km outside Beijing on the way to the airport.

Art Zone 798 or Factory 798 is a series of galleries dedicated art of all kinds - painting, sculptures, photography and video. The galleries have been integrated into desolated factory halls built by the East Germans and Russians, and starting in 1957 churning out electronic articles. The complex is massive - 500.000 square meters, two-thirds of which were allocated to living quarters for the workers, at the tme the best housing conditions for workers in Beijing.

The factory and it's many sub-factories underwent a gradual decline up through the 80's and early 90's and the first artists moved into the area in 1995. By 2003 the area was thriving with galleries, publishers, design companies, restaurants and cafes - leaving the buildings as the were on the outside, but refurbishing many of them on the inside. The most spectacular is still Factory 798, where arch-supported sections of the ceiling curve upwards then fall diagonally along the high slanted banks or windows; a pattern repeated several times giving the roof its characteristic sawtooth-like appearance. All the windows were all to face north as the light from that direction would cast fewer shadows. Many of the halls still had the communist slogans painted on the walls.

We spent most of the day at the factory, wandering from gallery to gallery. I can easily imagine that the place is packed during summer - we arrived at lunch time on a cold morning March morning - many galleries were closed, but we still managed to see a number of interesting exhibitions - not least of Danish artist Erik Frandsen, who was exhibiting massive stainless steel flowers, large stainless steel sheets with flowers etched. Very Scandinavian - but their sheer size was impressive.

We spent 3 or 4 hours wandering around before taking a taxi back to Beijing and Ritan Park in the Eastern part of Beijing. The taxi took ages, school was just stopping and the park is in the embassy area, so the roads were packed with cars picking up children after school. Yanmei and Daji headed straight for the exercise park and we marvelled at the Chinese playing ping pong - no matter the age, they all played extremely well.

We walked back towards the centre of Beijing via the Russian district, passing a number of the new hotels that had been constructed for the Olympics. We eat at a large Chinese restaurant in Oriental Plaza and ended up sitting close to a family we had shared a table with the previous day when we'd stopped for coffee - even in Beijing you can bump into the same people twice!

We bought cakes and shopped in the local (and expensive supermarket) before walking back to the hotel. It was the plan to leave for Pingyao the next day, but we still hadn't received any tickets for the Chinese travel agency, so we spent some time in contact with them - but still no news! We went to be early - only to be woken again by our noisy neighbours arriving home at 2am.

Daji had walked 38.000 steps - again!

NEXT DAY (1st)