I decided to keep a journal again during my travels, so this will be a transcription of the day to day thoughts and feelings I’ve had along the way. ENJOY!
Monday March 1st 2010
I moved out of my Jangsan apartment on Friday and moved into my friends’ Maddies and George’s for the next 3 nights. The weekend was pretty low key as I took care of last minute errands. On Sunday there was a full moon party on Haeundae Beach which included a massive bon fire. It was very cool, but highly unsafe as we were forced to flee the flames and sparks that flew at our easily flammable hair and clothes!
This morning made for a tearful farewell as I left my weekend roomies to head to the airport. The weather was heavy rain, which sort of fit the mood of the day. The shuttle ride to the airport offered a full range of emotions – happy, sad, excited, nervous, anxious – it was a roller coaster. I made it on the plane after a brief delay in the flight – made a new Korean friend who is flying to Beijing to study Chinese for 6 months. And so the adventure begins … landing in Beijing in 20 minutes…..
Welp, not a great start to the adventure. I made it to the airport and upon arriving made an inquiry at the airport about making a reservation at a hotel. The roust information employees were less than helpful, so I decided I would try my luck at finding a hotel on my own. After mass confusion regarding which shuttle I needed to be on, I ended up at Tian’amen Square – which was really pretty to see at night time, but since it was already getting dark, I was anxious to find a hotel. I was approached by numerous English speaking Chinese people – who were far to eager to help me find a place, but only after going and getting a cup of coffee – so this over the top niceness seemed a little unwarranted so I was quick to shake the offer to help and continued to search on my own. Unfortunately this only created more frustrations as it seemed any one I asked either didn’t speak English, or just were not interested in helping. In the midst of all of this, there were others that simply wanted to take a picture of the foreign girl – and this only added to the feeling of being alienated. But I pressed on, determined not to spend the night in the snowy streets and eventually ended up spotting some foreign guys who were very helpful! So, alas, I write this from the comforts of the Hanting Inn hotel – a few Yuan more than I wanted to pay, but a safe, clean place to spend the night. Hopefully daylight brings forth a better mood and better navigational skills!
Tuesday March 2nd, 2010
Today was a MUCH better day. I woke up feeling well rested; made use of the free internet at the hotel to book a place for the next two nights; had the hotel call me a taxi and drop me at the Peking International Youth Hostel where I was greeted by happy, helpful people. I made use of the on site computers and lonely planet books and headed out to explore. I did a ton of walking and managed to knock off the Forbidden City, Tian’amen square, the Temple of Heaven and the Pearl Market. After over 4 hours of walking and touring about – and dodging sketchy coffee requests – I was exhausted so I headed back to the Peking IYH for a nap. The nap expanded into a deep sleep and now it’s night time as I write this. I did manage to arrange a pick-up for tomorrow morning for a tour of the great wall!
Wed. March 3rd 2010
I started the day early with the anticipation of a Great Wall tour that I had reserved. I woke up, ate breakfast and waited in the hostel lobby for my 7:40 AM pick up. Welp, 7:40 came and went. The only contact number I had was not connected. After numerous attempts to get in touch with the tour group I decided to cut my losses (luckily I didn’t pay for anything upfront) and decided to make the trek to the Great Wall on my own. The hostel staff was more than helpful in providing me directions to the Mutianyu Great Wall section. It was a bit of an obstacle initially finding the right bus and knowing where to get off the bus, but eventually, with minimal backtracking, I managed to find my way to the connecting “minibus” station. (And by “minibus” I mean car.) In order to save myself the headache of finding a return “minibus” I booked my driver to stick around and wait for me. In the interest of time, I decided to take the cable car up the mountain and walk down. It was totally worth the hassle of it all; as once I was on top of the wall, I felt like I was surfing on cloud 9. It was a fantastic feeling and despite the unclear weather, the view was incredible. I literally skipped along the wall and down it. I was shocked at how little time I actually spent on the wall. (There are only so many selfies I can stand to take!)
I eventually made the trip home and with hours to spare I decided to check out the Olympic Stadiums which was really surreal. Being midweek, during the day, the complex was literally like a ghost town – it was eery. My hopes of making it inside the Water Cube were shattered when I was informed that it was CLOSED! Banking on that as a time filler, I wandered around for what seemed like forever – again, taking millions of obnoxious selfies – hoping to see the structures light up as the sun set. To my dismay, there was no sign of illumination and with the temperature dropping, my patience ran out and I decided to head back. I made the 4 transfer subway journey back – through rush hour – which meant pushing and shoving through the sardine packed subways. Eventually I made it home – feet sore and ready to relax. Tomorrow I am going to check out the silk market before heading to the airport. Hopefully it’s an easy route to navigate!
Thursday March 4, 2010
I managed to locate Starbucks and the post office this morning – so I picked up my souvenir mugs and sent them home. **For anyone who doesn’t know, I am collecting a starbucks mug from each country that I visit**. They should arrive home in 2-3 months. On my way I stumbled upon Subway, so I made a mental note of the location in case I had some time to spare later in the day. I packed up and checked out of the Peking Youth Hostel and stored my luggage there for the afternoon. They were absolutely incredible. They even took care of sending my post cards for me. For my first hostel experience, I was blown away! After check out I made my way to the Silk Market – one word: OVERWHELMING. It was an incredible place, but never in my life have I had to be so rude to people. I was literally being pulled, pushed, cornered and held against my will by store clerks wanting me to buy from them. It was very intense. I did manage to come away with a couple good buys, but I limited my spending knowing that A. Whatever I bought I’d either need to send home or pack and B. the shopping Thailand is apparently unreal. After I reached my limit of being haggled, I had some time to spare to I went to subway for lunch then went and picked up my bags from the hostel. I am now on the Airport Express train to the airport and I am beyond excited to have shed the winter jacket and boots. This time tomorrow I will be in +25 degree heat! I am so excited! After being constantly on the go the last couple weeks I am looking forward to relaxing on the beach for a few days.
Overall, I wasn’t a huge fan of Beijing on the whole. The Great Wall was fantastic but I just didn’t get a good feel of the city or the people in it. I was happy to have only been there for 3 nights.
Pictures will come another time! Sorry!!