Yes, we did it! We felt safe in Beijing and a Chinese man we met in Sweden said we had to try the subway. We would be amazed at its efficiency. Once we were assured that the signs were also in English, we decided to give it a try. We rode all the way across the city to go to the zoo.
It was a challenge but manageable. It was nice to mix with the locals. We avoided rush hour but even so, the way back was more crowded, because it was around 3:00.
We made one mistake and went the wrong way on the above-ground connecting train. We stepped off at the first station and waited for the train in the opposite direction. I used the opportunity to take pictures out the window, finding it fascinating to see a non-touristy part of Beijing. It was called the Wudaokou Area. Apparently there are three universities in this area including one where Chinese learn other languages and foreigners learn Chinese. It is written about by a native here: http://blogs.transparent.com/chinese/top-10-places-in-beijing-wudaokou/. I was tempted to learn Chinese when I was on the Subway because the recorded voice pronounced the words clearly and I could hear the musicality in the language. It was good to spend a day really concentrating on the language. Who would have thought that a trip on the subway would have been a lesson in Chinese? I asked our guide, the previous day, why they had signs in English. She said for convenience. I asked if it was because there were a lot of American business travelers, and she said, no, it was that they are teaching English in the schools now, and it is a good common language. Anyway, it was interesting to listen to the translations on the subway.
Here are a couple shots from the train station window. Not much, I know, but a little peek at another place.
Yes, we did make it to the zoo, which is pretty. I have a few shots, but I won’t share the ones of the giant pandas, the reason for our trip. These magnificent animals shouldn’t be in zoos. I get depressed every time I go to a zoo because I don’t like seeing wild animals confined. I made an exception to go see these pandas, but I had the same reaction I always have. I think the only place I didn’t have that reaction was the Desert Museum in Tucson.
According to this sign, the preservation of habitat is expanding. I know the reason for zoos is to show people these magnificent animals and that helps people to have the will to protect them in the wild. The children who saw the pandas that day were delighted.
Here is a WWF article about the giant pandas and their work with the Chinese provinces to preserve their habitat: http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/endangered_species/giant_panda/panda/where_panda_lives_habitat/
I think the waterfowl are quite happy, though. For one thing, they aren’t confined. Here is one I thought was pretty.
I decided not to enhance the photo so you would see the smog, which is quite heavy a lot of the time in Beijing.