Having explored central and northern Beijing, I wanted to see the area south. But first, my friend wanted to explore around Qianmen Historic Street. She stopped at a salon to get a hair wash, then we went to the Beijing Police Museum which felt more like a vanity display of all the criminals that the police caught.
Next, we headed south to the Temple of Heaven, another large park costing only 2 RMB for entry. We wandered through the park looking for a restaurant, but there were only a few snack vendors, and mainly a lot of open green space. It took a while to get from site to site, but we ultimately did not pay any additional fees to visit the different temples within the park because we were hungry.
Once we made it outside the park, we hopped on some bike rentals and looked for restaurants. It occurred to me that, unlike the United States, which mixes different types of stores in shopping areas so there’s generally always one restaurant, the Chinese approach groups similar vendors together into entire blocks. We eventually find a food mall and were served much larger portions than expected.
While eating, we joked about visiting North Korea, but I didn’t think that was a good idea for me. Then I realized I might be late for the bus to Mongolia, so we rushed to finish our meal and although the days plan was to slowly make our way to the departure bus station, we decided to order a DiDi to Muxiyuan bus station. When I arrived, I met two other foreigners sitting around. They had waited a couple of hours. I paid my fare, happy to be paying a fraction of the airfare and train costs, then waited for another hour before the bus filled up with enough cargo (or sold enough tickets).
I chatted with the foreigners to get a sense for their plans, but they had none. So, I spoke with my neighbor, a Mongolian student visiting Beijing to take the CFA level 1 exam. Since he had taken the bus to Beijing, I asked him to explain the return route.
If there is a flight or a train option between two cities, there is almost always a much cheaper bus option. You trade some time and convenience for a lot of savings, but you also get to see more of the route, which I think makes buses even better.