Sunday, October 21 – Beijing, China

The rest of the train trip was rather uneventful.  I did go to sleep early. The next day we all slept late (we had been woken up a few times the night before – off the train at the Vietnamese border around midnight, and again in China at 4:30am to change trains. Ace.)  So we all slept until noon. The day was spent reading, napping, and staring out the window.
Late that night (okay, no, early… but that night), Mary and I realized that we both have a DS. So we played each other for a long time. I went to sleep around 9pm. Woke up at 8am.  Got cleaned up (sort of!) and changed. More reading and staring out the window. We arrived in Beijing around noon. I was packed and ready to go, but the Irish girls were just waking up. I said goodbye and got off the train. I thought about getting email addresses, but they aren’t on Facebook (we talked about it) and I don’t really know what I would email them about. They were cool, and I wish them well, but I don’t really have much to talk to them about. So I stepped of the train, on my own again, for about four minutes. There had been another white girl in our car. I saw her standing on the platform and asked if she knew where the exit was. She didn’t.  We decided to work together.
We found the exit no problem. On the way, I asked where she was staying. She didn’t have a place, so she thought she would check out my hostel. First though, with both of us Yuan-less, we had to find a bank machine. Mission accomplished. Now, we needed a bus. Again, not hard. At this point, I was so relieved to put down my bag, which I am now estimating weighed at least 25kg at this point (that 55 pounds, moms).  We got off a stop too early and started walking. I’ll leave out the details (stopping for food, finding the wrong hostel, a bird pooping on my bag, talking to the least helpful cops on the planet, etc.*) and just say it took over an hour to find the fucking hostel. We finally got there, and Melanie (that’s the girl I met) thought that at 70 yuan a night (so, less than $10USD) was too much and checked for a cheaper place. I like it here though, there is lots of character. I dropped off my bags (thank God!) and helped her find her hostel.
FOR FUCK SAKE, CHINA!  Be more confusing, eh?  And why does NO ONE know where any of this shite is?? I’m baffled.
Anyhoo, after many false moves, we found her hostel. She’ paying the same for a private room as I am for a dorm (with 7 other people in it). I would still rather be in my place – more character and she still has to share a bathroom.  Also, her place is four floor underground! Weird! And she doesn’t have her own key – there is a Key Girl there 24/7 to let her in. Weird! Just like a warden in a prison.
Once Melanie was sorted, we walked to Wangfujing Street and had duck dinner**.  Yummers!  Then we walked around a bit, but we were both so tired. We agreed to meet tomorrow at 6pm on Wangfujing Street again.  Tomorrow the plan is to see Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. I’m happy there is no tour group to lose, but sad there is no Team Six.
Here are some details about my hostel:
– Five minute walk to Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, and Wangfujing Street
– The hostel has carefully preserved the originally traditional Si-He courtyard house, and is nestled in the designated historic landmark Hu-Tong neighborhood preserved and protected by the Beijing government
The hostel was hard to find, but fantastically located and nice. Where I’m sitting now it also smells good.
Side note:  I need out of Asia. The table I’m at has benches. Instead of sitting like a normal person I have kicked off my shoes and am now sitting here cross-legged. Yikes.
*Or, rather, I WON’T leave out the details, but I will quickly summarize them…
**I still have to remember to bill Brendan for that duck dinner.

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