After a 13 hour plane ride which was mostly good, I was determined to get from Beijing International Airport to my hotel, Kelly’s Courtyard, by subway. Preferably by way of the Beijing Yitong card -useful on the airport line, subways, buses and some eating establishments? Public transportation is one of the first steps in helping me transition from tourist to traveler. I do it at hone, why not here?
Clearing customs in China and S. Korea always leaves me confused. Does the US have the 2 step approach? 1 line to check passport and visa, then a second one to check bags? Maybe I don’t travel enough to remember.
Anyway, getting from terminal 3 to terminal 2 using the free airport shuttle was an easy but surprisingly long ride. Once at terminal 2, finding the subway, called the Beijing Airport Express, took awhile because I didn’t recognize it as the subway and I misunderstood the signage. B2 means the second sub-basement level – I should have known.
Finally, got myself on the subway where a particularly helpful gentleman helped me order the Yitong card and accompanied me to within 2 stops of my destination. He wore Buddhist prayer beads, so maybe it was his good deed for the day.
Using the subway is actually not too hard. The stations and trains are modern enough to label their direction and indicate all the stations on the route. Little green lighys show the current station. It doesn’t hurt that signage and announcements are bilingual in Standard Chinese and English. It will take 1 or 2 more trip before it feels easy. (Street signage is the same.)
My hotel is in one of those fast disappearing Hutongs in the central district. 9 minute, 700m walk from the exit. I made it a bit longer by missing the sign for the street. The street is a few steps beyond the sign. Then, the entrance to the hotel is actually on a slit OFF of the street given on its address. All of which made for an extra tired and happy arrival. Arriving in strange cities while there is daylight cannot be recommended too highly.
Hutongs in the immediate vicinity are quite plain which leads me to believe they are actively lived in homes, instead of the more commercial conversions closer to the drum tower and back lakes area of my first visit in 2012.
Kelly’s courtyard has its own quirky and charming courtyard. My room opens onto it and at first felt like there was no privacy. But once I closed the heavy curtain, I was snug.
I love staying in historic locations but they do require a certain tolerance for non-standard amenities. The ensuite bathroom is quite nice but showers which drain directly into the floor (common in Asia) always take me a little aback, as does requests to not flush the t.p.