One day in Beijing is quite an experience.
I arrived here yesterday morning around 5.30am. In -3 degrees celsius. Then spent the next 2 hours getting out of the airport. I think I went through 3 or maybe 4 security checks, filled in about 5 forms, waited in about 4 queues, got a temporary airport exit card, got a transfer to the hotel and all without hardly anyone speaking English.
On the way to the airport I met some really nice guys – Richard and Gary who’d just done a driving tour of NZ and were on the way back to Germany. And Sebastian, a german guy on his way to meet his girlfriend for a holiday in Kuala Lumpur. We managed to check into the hotel with minimal loss of patience, had breakfast together and went to our rooms to rest up.
Given this might be my only ever visit to China, I didn’t think I should waste the entire day lying in bed in the hotel room. Besides, the TV remote only had one of two batteries in it, wifi wasn’t working, I hadn’t brought a charger with me thinking I wouldn’t be able to plug it in here anyway, and I learned that google, facebook and messenger don’t work in China, even when the hotel gives you the wifi code (which you need to log in using a code you get on sms… when your phone doesn’t work in the country and you have no roaming…)
Ah the adventure.
Anyway, turns out Sebastian was planning to experience a little China so I figured, what the hell, you only live once and I’m quite happy to see another place in the world. Incidental travel… So I joined him in a trip to the Forbidden City.
As part of the whole experience/adventure thing we decided (wisely) to take the subway there and a taxi on the way back. Wisely cause let me tell you, its a whole lot of walking to see the Forbidden City. Not to mention a whole lot of buildings that look almost the exactly the same.
The Monty Python ‘And more f#@g gondolas’ came to mind…
Don’t get me wrong, we had fun and it was something I’m glad I saw, but I won’t be rushing to see it again. If I ever come to China again I’ll visit the Great Wall and the Terracotta Army. They were just a little too far for us yesterday cause we both wanted to get some sleep before our next trip.
China sure was an interesting experience. Nowhere like I’ve ever been before. Hardly anyone speaks English for one thing… Even after the Olympics, where apparenly signs were put up in English everywhere, there is still a lack on signage I could understand with my non-existant chinese.
The security, military and police presence here is huge. At least they’re not carrying submachine guns like they used to in Greece…
It was pretty cold too. I was tempted to buy one of those army type hats but I refrained. I don’t see me wearing one of those anywhere else in the world, even if it is cold!
Naturally, I wasn’t dressed for the cold. It just never occurred to me… Beijing… winter… iced rivers… duh! My luggage was checked through direct to Athens so I only had my carry-on. I had to wear both my Tshirts, my jean jacket and my fluffy sweater to keep warm. Luckily the sun was out and we kept going from sunny spot to sunny spot.
After walking around the city for about 2.5 hours we stopped at the first restaurant we saw and had a (bad) coffee and a (great) noodle soup.
Yum. Warmed me up nicely. Though I do think I’m flirting with a cold right now and I’m not impressed.
The last thing I want is to develop a full blown cold on the plane or even after I land and spend Christmas feeling miserable.
Panadol here I come…