Beijing: Mao, MiniCoopers and Ebay
The trains were packed. The cars were offering a seat to Beijing for around 80 Yuan per seat. An unofficial bus sold fares for 30 Yuan, it departed about 20 minutes after promised (after its last seat was sold). While waiting, I mentioned that I had to visit the bathroom. The guy (coordinator or owner perhaps, motioned to do it on the side of road in the bushes. He walked me over and..."when in Rome..." I read about China and Beijing on the way up. The lady sitting across the aisle allowed her toddler to pee on the floor of the buss--my Chinese friends later told me that that was normal (hmmm). The bus dropped people off about a block away from the main Beijing train station. Then I grabbed a cab to Tien An Men Square to see Chairman Mao's corpse.
By the time I had finally gotten to Beijing, Mao was not accepting visitors. Tuesday through Sunday, mornings only. So if I am going to see Mao, I will have to return; I had seen Lenin in Red Square prior to his burial. If I can see Mao, I can say that I've seen two of the most communist leaders of the 20th Century, perhaps.
The hostel to the west of the Forbidden City has some clean rooms with private bath and atmosphere for around $35/night. The shops in the alleys behind there were fun. Nice luggage, unlocked I-phone look a likes for around $200, boiled dumplings and beer at a small restaurant that had a banner on the wall that looked like it was written in Tibetian (close--slightly to the northeast of there said the owner (I think) as he pointed to my map).
Hopped on the subway. Had some microbrewed beer at a Shopping Center near the middle of the 3rd ring road on the west side after looking at BMW MiniCoopers, priced at around 345,000 Yuan ($50K+). MiniCoopers are incredibly popular among the up and coming young Chinese. A Chinese friend sells clothes on Tao Bao--an internet market place that beat Ebay at their own game when they came to China--its fun to observe some reality that ties into a previous business lecture.
The last train to Tianjin was pretty empty--getting a seat was no problem. I fell asleep on the way back.