Before we left we changed over about $500 into Chinese yuan. One dollar is about 7 yuan, therefore, a 100 yuan note was equivalent to about $15. This was a true adventure since we hadn't booked or solidly planned anything. Basically we had a Lonely Planet, a list of places we wanted to go and some lovely couch surfing hosts willing to let us stay with them for the first few days.
Arriving at the airport we quickly found our bags and noticed there were Olympic volunteers everywhere. We followed Curtis and Jenny's (our couch surfing hosts) directions and found our bus. We paid about $5 (total) for tickets and settled in for the ride. The bus dropped us off and we found the subway really easily, bought our tickets and then met up with Jenny. I can't say how awesome these guys were. We had so much fun with them and they were insanely hospitable. Besides that, they were cool to hang out with and interesting to talk to. I think between the two of them they have traveled everywhere. Wow. Here's the view from their humble apartment.
We were pretty tired from our crazy airport ordeals so the first day we just kicked back with them and a bunch of beer and wine. Fun times. The next day the four of us went out to a famous art district: The 798 Art District and looked around at all the free galleries. It was a beautiful day and we had the most amazing (and cheap!) food for lunch! I had chicken fried rice steamed in lotus leaves and Matt had some kind of pork filled soup. Yum! To see the 798 Art District pictures you can go here.
Later that evening we took them out for Peking Duck to thank them for letting us crash with them. It was really tasty but not something I could eat everyday. It was interesting watching the guy carve the duck.
The cool thing about hanging out with Curtis and Jenny was getting to see some of the regular life in Beijing stuff that we might not have seen otherwise. It was crazy how cheap things were there, especially if you went to a grocery store frequented by the locals. To give you an idea- a bottle of beer cost about 25 cents. Even when we went out to a bar, the local beer cost $1.50. Yeah, at the bar. Crazy! So our first two days in Beijing were pretty cool, just relaxing and enjoying some day to day things.