After having such a nice day with Sam and Chris, my confidence was back up to go exploring. I decided I wanted to spend the day exploring the 798 Art District in Chaoyang. Despite having it’s own section in my Lonely Planet guide book, it’s not included on the map they provide. It also wasn’t on my super big detailed map of Beijing. Whyy?!
I looked up details on how to get there and realised that I would have to take a bus. The problem with Beijing buses is that all the stops are written in Chinese characters and of course I don’t understand them. Luckily for me Daria could write me a short message to show the bus supervisor (that’s what I’m calling them, basically someone who works for the bus company sits in a little box thing in the middle of the bus). I filled myself up on leftovers, packed some emergency snacks and took my brothers phone so that I could call Daria if I got lost.
I headed to Dongzhimen subway station to get my bus. You’ll need to leave at exit C and look for the stop for the 909 bus, if I remember right the markings for the bus stops are on the floor. It was really easy to find. My bus came in no time and I nervously got on and found the bus supervisor. I said Ni Hao! Smiled a lot, pointed at the message from Daria and said lots of xie xie (thank you). The supervisor was so nice to me, she didn’t speak a word of English but she got me to sit in front of her so that she could tell me when my stop was. Throughout the journey she kept checking on me, which I kept thinking meant I had to get off the bus but I think she was just reassuring me. It was about a 15-20 minute bus ride before I got there.
As soon as you get off the bus you’ll see a big sign with 798 in massive red letters, so it’s easy to find once you get there.
798 is filled with galleries, cafes, street art and sculptures, you can definitely spend a whole day here, which is pretty much what I did. There’s also a 7 Eleven by the entrance, so if you know what vegan snacks to look for, you can stock up there.
As I went on the Thursday, a lot of the galleries were free. It was really easy to just wander around here all day, popping into galleries, visiting shops. The gift shops here are really cool, not much of that cheesy tacky merchandise, but really cool gifts. It was so hot out that I didn’t really get hungry, I just drank a lot of water. But, there were enough places to eat that I’m sure there would be some vegan options if you wanted to go look for them. Some of the bars would at least do fries I’m sure.
I headed back late afternoon. I was a bit scared of going back because I didn’t have a message to guide me back to Dongzhimen, but I knew I should be able to recognise it. I did, it was easy, the station you can see very clearly from the window. I hopped off and headed back to Sam and Daria’s.
As soon as I entered the room Daria said ‘I can’t believe you didn’t get lost!’. Apparently it’s quite hard to find 798 and they were expecting me so phone them. Haha, I felt so proud! We ate at the apartment that evening, Daria made me a really delicious Turkish lentil soup…must get the recipe so that I can eat it again, it was really tasty.
That night we headed out to a bar called 8-Bit in the Dongcheng area…a bar where you can play old school games and drink game themed cocktails! It was so cool! Here’s my terrible photo of it.
I feel like I haven’t written a lot about this day but it was one of my favourites, I really loved 798. If I’d had more time in Beijing I probably would have gone back for another visit, definitely worth seeing if you visit.