JUST JOKING, LOOKING BACK TO WHAT I WAS DOING THIS TIME LAST YEAR!
OR SURVIVING ENTERING BEJING, CHINA BY TRAIN AND THE MORNING AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE.
IMPORTANT ALERT TO FILL YOU IN ON THE TIME TRAVEL I’M DOING HERE!!
Alert: This is returning to last February when I entered Chinas Beijing by a terrible ORDEAL BY NIGHT BORDER CROSSING BY TRAIN linked here for your perusal. It was a shocking betrayal of what I had expected the border crossing and the Chinese to be like. I had just known them as tourists that travelled in huge groups with their Chinese guides and were rather rude and very noisy. I would find out later my naivety in thinking I would drift around Chinas bucolic landscape for at least three weeks. Old birds, there is no chance of this travelling solo. It’s hard core and you need a state approved and licensed guide who will fill you to bursting the National propaganda. It’s a cruel awakening after the wonderful Trans Siberian Express and the Russian and Mongolian people. As you will gather I was less than impressed and unfortunately arrived on an extended Chinese New Year. Dreadful culture shock which nearly ruined the Great Wall, Forbidden City and the Terracotta Army for me. Any how make of it what you will!
Brand new Chinese restaurant car greets the weary suspicious passengers.
Sick with fatigue and hideously unnerved by the previous night of hell, some of us braved the new diner for breakfast.I swear at this point I should say dear reader, that I had grave doubts as to the sanity of my decision to finish my trip in China. They had seemed the previous night kinda hostile and frankly indifferent to the more pampered needs of the Europeans coming in on the train. Apart from the fact that they only had people there who spoke no English or other European language to admonish and herd you with their Chinese translator app on dodgy looking tablets. Nothing had worked and apart from ridiculous translations (‘your aunt should wash her teeth’ being one) and we had all slumped into sullen crumpled heaps. Dammit . Why hadn’t I taken the other route to Vladivostok? Damn your eyes stupid stupid Rebecca.
I went to check out the new Chinese diner, willing to give China the benefit of the doubt, in retrospect it should have been a warning. It had a sullen and rather grubby feel and although I had an excellent breakfast it failed to warm the cockles of my heart so to speak. The magic was slowly ebbing away and I wondered why. My other train bits across this massive Continent(s) had been crazy but fun, here the vibe was subdued. Communist China had entered the train.
Before Beijing on the Train.
Fresh views from the train. A new chapter in my travels….
Exciting new landscape of brilliant blue skies, ancient mountains and frozen reservoirs……..
And then the miles of chimneys begin and I should have realised…….
….that despite the brilliant skies of the exterior there would be a dark side to China…….
When we finally arrived at Beijing central station it finally dawned on me I was woefully ill prepared. It’s a huge and merciless chomping and belching machine with arms and legs sticking out and screaming humans at its centre. Along with their cunning sleep deprivation torture on us the previous night , they now hurled us out into most of the populous seething station on the planet. Add to that the longest taxi queue I have ever seen in my life and you have a recipe for wide eyed terror panic.
The head honcho with his beady eyes on me assured me I had to pay no extra money when he grabbed the equivalent of 30 quid from my sweaty shaking paw. ” you pay no more” he shouted at me when I looked at him dubiously. When I poked at the address of the hotel on my IPad he shrieked “yes, yes he knows where is, but don’t give him more money” (with a Chinese accent obviously) I wasn’t convinced, the driver had a squint and a snaggle tooth and to be honest looked like a product of a very incestuous lineage. When again I weakly thanked him but challenged the veracity of the whole deal he truly lost his rag “Yes yes you go now lady goooooooo” Yup things were just starting.
My snaggle tooth cab driver had a mission, to get shot of me asap and at that point it hadn’t dawned on me Google maps indeed all things Google and all social media platforms were banned. So when I felt dodgy cab man was making an error arriving at my hotel I shouted ” no no not the way no no no. Again I was pointing at my map which now I noticed was behaving rather erratically, indeed the blue spot denoting where we were was jumping from one side of the walled city to the other. The pandemonium was huge as people were on Chinese new year holiday and my hotel was right by the forbidden palace in the walled city. The streets were super busy and vendors were selling the usual cheap tat alongside meat stuffed buns and holiday sugar treats of all kinds from their makeshift carts , They were all screaming. Then the traffic police adding to the mayhem. They were all screaming. Then the tour guides. They too were screaming. Then the Chinese tourists. They always love screaming. Then me and the cab driver. We were screaming more than them all.
Of course we got there, it was the street the cabdriver had indicated in the first place but this time we got access to drive up to the hotel (Hotel? Are you fucking kidding?!) and the dodgy manager was stood outside.I was promptly charged another £30 which I carried on screaming about, making a big fuss of photographing his pass and license plate. Then I went in a small doorway with a man that I was convinced was going to kill me and then the corridor opened up into a courtyard.
More in next post……..
I want to say it all was ok after that but sadly, it was not.
In it’s hey day it would have been glorious but now it was a squalid dingy grubby old place and my idea of a romantic cool courtyard of elegance and the rooms to match was cruelly blown apart.In the next hour I was to find out that China has banned all things deemed to be of dangerous Western influence. All things Google , all foreign social media and basically anything that might help you arrange your trip without a state trained guide. for me I suffered a particularly rough time as I own a Google phone. None of my translator apps worked and neither did my maps, WhatsApp, Facebook Instagram, well you get the picture. No VPN could straddle their highly potent firewall and I could only communicate to my family through email. Since I had been without WiFi on the train it was even more alarming. One more devastating blow was the “hotel” had no bar so I couldn’t even get a beer, I would have to go out in Crazyland and get lost never to be found again. I would have to non the less. I kicked off so badly the girl working there walked with me as a hostage as I whined on and in retrospect behaved in a very crazy and spoilt Westerner way. The place was awful tho and even after returning safely with my beers I could see that it would be a nightmare as would I. The Zen attitude from Mongolia was out of the window and replaced with a petulant brittle unaccommodating attitude
OVER AND OUT FROM INNOCENCE LOST REBECCA OF LAST YEAR ! X
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