Tuesday, October 23 – Beijing, China

 
I’ll write about yesterday in a minute. First, I want to note what it says on my Great Wall ticket.
 
"Great Wall – soul of China, master piece of mankind! It is one of the Seven Wonders of the World as well as one of the man made structures visible from space, recognized by the United Nation as the cultural heritage of the human kind."
 
My first issue with this Ticket of Lies is that the Great Wall is NOT one of the official seven wonders of the world. It is possible that they are referring to the new seven wonders – but not likely.  The seven wonders are:
 
1. Temple of Artemitis
2. Statue of Zeus
3. Pyramids of Giza
4. Lighthouse at Alexander
5. Hanging Gardens of Babalon
6. The Mausoleum
7. The Colossus*
 
My spelling may be crap**, but that is the list.
 
Second, and this is making me think of Brendan and smiling – no one has ever seen the Great Wall from space***. It is possible, but never proven. Most people think that thanks to pollution, one actually could not see it from space.
 
The rest of the claims the ticket is making I have no issue with. I do, however, have issues with one of the women sitting in front of me on the bus (I’m currently on a bus, waiting to go see the Wall).  Thank goodness she isn’t sitting directly in front of me – I would have to break her. For five glorious minutes the seat beside me was empty. So this woman put her seat all the way back. I don’t care – I’m not sitting there. But now some guy has sat there. He could not even put his knees forward – that’s how far back her seat was. She, after a minute, put her seat up. A little. He still can’t sit right. I can’t believe he hasn’t said anything. I’m keeping my knees against the chair in front of me so that one can’t put her chair back. Oh, something else just happened. Who are these people?  There are three of them – two women and an old man, and a kid****.  Two more people just got on the bus. They passed the kid to grandpa to put him in the empty seat. I bet they didn’t pay for the kid and aren’t actually eligible for an entire seat for him. Heh, heh.  More people just got on the bus. They may have to move the kid eventually.  Also, two people have talked in outside voices into their phones.  Noisy and rude.  HA!  Issues with the kid and the seat just got taken.  Good.
 
I’m tired, yes, and cranky, but the Chinese are doing their best to really piss me right the fuck off. good. They’ve started the bus. The bus full of the noisiest Chinese people on the planet. Balls.
 
I’ve been feeling a bit like a moment in Forrest Gump. You know when he’s telling his story on the bench and he says, "So I went to the White House. Again. And I met the President of the United States.  Again."?  That’s how I feel right now in China.  "So I went to China. Again.  And I saw the Great Wall. Again."  I think it would be different if I was with someone who had never seen it before and was sharing the experience with them.  I almost didn’t even go, but it felt vaguely retarded to be in China and not go to the Great Wall of China*****.
 
The twit in the seat in front of me keeps trying to push the seat back. Best of luck, buddy.
 
Yesterday I got up and walked to the travel agent to get my train tickets. Waste of time because they weren’t ready yet.
 
Back to today and the Wall. Sorry for jumping around like that, but now that I’m here I just want to write a few things. It is definitely fall here. Chilly but nice and the trees are beautiful. I am missing Brendan, Stefanie, and Brittany loads. It is nice to not be stuck with the rest of the tour group (or stopping at jade factories!), but I miss Team Six.
 
I’m having lunch at the Great Wall. It is 2:15 and I’ve climbed all over the Great Wall****** and I haven’t eaten yet today. I’m having "Shanghai fills the soup steamed stuffed bun set meal", but I also like the sound of "The Lanzhou beef pulls the surface".  You have to appreciate food that sounds like poetry even if it does taste like crap. Ahem.
 
*Everything is reproduction.*
 
Back to yesterday.  After searching for the travel agency, I was tired, frustrated, and starving. So I ate in the first restaurant I came to – McDonalds. And it was exactly what I needed – something familiar. After that, I headed over to the Forbidden City.
 
Back to today: ON the way here, while cruising along a major highway, I saw about 50 sheep attempting to cross… using the pedestrian overpass. They were just at the ramp up, with one sheep out front. The rest of them were jammed in around the bottom, looking at the leader like he was a nutter.
 
Yesterday:  I walked through the Forbidden City and it was glorious to do it on my own. I took my time and wandered around aimlessly. I went back to the hostel to rest after that and then went out to meet Melanie at 6pm.  We had dinner, then walked to Tiananmen Square, which is very different at night. Then we walked to the market where Team Six had lunch while looking for the Underground City. It has changed so much! The main road leading up to Tiananmen Square is gone – completely blocked off and the traffic that used to use it has been rerouted. I hardly recognized the area. Mel and I went into only one store. After Beijing, Mel was planning on going to Tibet, but they are choosing new leaders so the borders are presently closed (Mel’s going to India instead).  So we went into a Tibetan art store. I bought a ring that I’m very pleased with. After that, I went back to the hostel and off to bed. I had trouble sleeping last night though. I’m worried about money, the train (more specifically missing the train), what the situation will be in Moscow, and obtaining my Belarus visa. Balls, balls, balls!
 
I sent yet another box to London yesterday – it weighed 9 kg. I’m so happy not to be carrying it!  Or, more accurately, not carrying it anymore.
 
So, I bet you are wondering what could make the Great Wall even greater?  How about bears?  Yup. Bears.  IN a zoo. Ace!  When I was there, a Chinese lady asked to have a picture with me. I love her.
 
I’m back on the bus. My knees are braced so buddy can’t move her seat (I made sure I was here first just so she couldn’t. Mwahahahaha!) I’m listening to tunes so I don’t have to listen to the snorting and horking and Mandarin blah blah blah blah blah.  Just sweet Eddie Vedderness instead.
 
Last night when I was walking back to the hostel I was also listening to tunes. A little surreal to walk through the historic streets of Beijing while listening to TV on the Radio, Muse, and Radiohead.
 
Now, back to the city. Gonna meet Mel and we’re gonna eat scorpions. If they don’t taste too bad, I may try others. I might also see about getting new jeans. The fly on these ones is driving me batshit.*******
 
After the Wall I came back to Beijing and met Mel. Got some supplies for the train – books and food. I’m set. My bag is fucking heavy again though. Then Mel and I went to the Night Market and bought scorpions on a stick. Before we even started to eat them, another traveler walked up to have a look. He was eating a bowl of snake. He let us try it. It was okay. IN exchange, we gave him the third scorpion. Overall, very tasty. Crunchy and salty, like potato chips. No real flavour, just salty.  The only gross thing was after buddy gave us the stick he opened this can and it was full of scorpions. Live ones! SICK!  The Chinese man next to us assured us that they are "good for our health".
 
After eating scorpions, Mel and I walked to Snack Street to eat noodle soup.  After that we said our goodbyes and I headed to the hostel. I’m finding that the people staying here aren’t very friendly and they mostly keep to themselves. All the conversations I’ve tried to start end abruptly.  Conversely, I was walking beside a girl from Germany heading up to the Wall and we had a lovely chat before heading our own ways. Go figure. People. Now I’m just waiting for the internet to confirm some things before bed. Hopefully these guys won’t be online long.
 
 
*Now that I can look them up, here are is a more accurately titled list of the wonders:  Great Pyramid of Giza; Hanging Gardens of Babylon; Statue of Zeus at Olympia; Temple of Artemis at Ephesus; Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus; Colossus of Rhodes; Lighthouse of Alexandria.  Not too bad though… but now I should confess how I even knew what they were, as I don’t think this is a list that many people have memorized. It is from playing Civilization III and IV. I’m a nerd.
 
**May be?? If only my notebook had spellcheck I wouldn’t look like such a dumbass.
 
***I wonder if Brendan ever mailed that scathing letter to Peter Weir?
 
****Um, four of them.  Being in China evidently made me stupid. And, judging by this entry, angry.
 
*****That, and I was concerned that Carey would kick my ass if I was in China again, this time with Miller, but didn’t get pictures of him at the Great Wall. Honestly, how much must I love that girl?
 
*******A more cynical, bitter person would have quantified that statement with the word "again".
 
*******I never did buy new jeans. The fly wouldn’t stay up on the one pair I had, but I could pull them off without undoing them. So at some point, in Siberia, I simply sewed the entire fly shut. Problem solved.
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