Still no luck on getting a replacement guidebook. Experiencing Beijing unemcumbered by information is still pretty good, though I'm not being very touristically efficient. I have managed to see the Forbidden City, and tomorrow I should manage a section of the Great Wall. Mostly, I've spent a fair amount of time wandering aimlessly or riding cabs.
Since i have to meet Liz in Chongqing, I went to Beijing West Station this evening to buy my train ticket to Chongqing, which puts me there on Christmas Eve -- I hope. Merry Christmas to you, too.
Beijing West Station, should you ever visit there, is the biggest freaking train station and the biggest freaking madhouse I have ever seen. I'm not looking forward to returning in a couple of days.
I did NOT lose the pages of Thomas Cook's Guide I had photocopied (no sense in taking the whole book), but it wasn't very helpful here -- I used the printed copy of Duncan Peattie's free China Train Guide I downloaded back in Tokyo. It told me which train I needed, though communicating that desire at the train station was rather difficult. But I succeeded, and I'm booked into a soft sleeper on train number T9, departing Beijing West Station on the 23rd at 16:25 and arriving in Chongqing 17:13 the next day. I hope.
I'm taking a break to type this at an internet cafe near Tiananmen Square called Quan Yi, a place that looks like a cross between a computer center and a 1930s movie version of Singapore. Only 20 RMB an hour.