Out on the town
Beijing Travel Blog› entry 310 of 658 › view all entries
People I met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia), Kevin and Brian (USA), Jose (Puerto Rico), Mart (Finland), Vivien (China)
After a wonderful day at the Great Wall, the natural conclusion to the day seemed to be going out on the town. I phoned up an American student called Kevin, who i met in Seoul and is studying in Beijing and he kindly offered to be our 'guide' for the night. We agreed to meet a bit later, as i had my new laptop been delivered by travbuddy Portia's brothers driver! Long story :)
Some sweet and sour pork worked as our stomach lining, before heading to the metro station near his university to meet up at 21.45. Kevin didn't know the station particularly well, so we just decided that we would manage to find each other at one of the exits and if this didn't work, then i would just call him.
15 minutes of trying to walk around the area had proved fruitless, so we went in search of a phone box, only to find that they were all card operated. Eventually Julia spotted a kiosk with phones out front and it was at this point that i realised some idiot had left his diary with the phone number back at the hostel!
Around 22.20 we were beginning to understand what a fruitless task that it was going to be, to run between the 4 spread out exits, which were bisected by a busy main road. All of a sudden though, we spotted a guy with western looking clothes, who was walking away from us around 100 metres down the road. Already a bit hot and sweaty, we agreed that we would run down the street after the person, in one last hope of finding Kevin! Luckily it was him, i think we'd been walking in circles after each other for the last half an hour.
Kevin's Chinese is pretty good, so it was surprising how hard we then found it to get a taxi from where we were, to his student flats. For some reason drivers didn't want to make a right turn at the junction where we were flagging them down and it took a good 10 minutes to eventually grab one that wanted our business. 5 minutes later and after a brief stop at the 7/11 for beers and we were been introduced to a colourful bunch of characters back at his room.
Jose was the first guy we met, a Puerto Rican who had moved to the States and was enjoying his first taste of travelling life. He had a real enthusiasm and bubbly character, which was rather infectious. Next up came Finnish Mart with his Chinese girlfriend Vivien, both of whom appeared in traditional Chinese gear! Lastly to appear came as the biggest shock of all though, as i had no idea Kevin that not only had Kevin got family in Beijing, but his twin brother Brian was there! It was a fantastic cosmopolitan mix and what travelling is really all about as far as I'm concerned.
The ice was really broken, when we got to watch a home made video of the guys in their local hotpot restaurant, devouring bulls penis and sheep's balls. Hysterically this led to projectile vomit flying across the Dinner table and it had me in stitches. I was just pleased that my Dinner had had plenty of time to digest already.
The agenda for the night was to head to a favourite bar of their's called Propaganda, which had an 'all you can drink' Wednesday night special. Men paid an entry of 70RMB ($10) and women paid 30RMB ($4.30) and for this you could drink any cocktails or beers that you fancied. Kevin very generously treated us to our night out, which was unexpected and much appreciated.
Having encountered a few bad memories with such drinks offers in the past, i decided that i was going to do the sensible thing this time and just drink Tiger beer and not try to empty the bar of its top shelf.
The night was a huge success and fun was had by all. Around 4am we decided that we really should be making our way home, as the club was beginning to die down and we had drunk our fair share. After saying our goodbyes, we jumped into a taxi and surprisingly had no hassle in getting home, bringing to an end a fantastic night and eventful day.
Needless to say we felt a bit ropey on Thursday morning and lazed around in bed until the early afternoon. Eventually we dragged our butts to KFC to eat some of their amazing egg tarts, you just have to try them! With a bit of energy in the system and the weather been thoroughly miserable, we decided that it was time to check out my new little toy â�� the Asus EEE PC that i'd had delivered the previous day.
I spent the rest of the day playing with my super dinky little contraption, which Portia had sent me from the States. Its mainly so as i can keep up to date with my blogs whilst travelling around by bus and train, and I'm actually writing this as we speak on the bus to Chengde, useful! It comes fitted with pretty much everything i could desire and for $300 is a complete steal in my opinion, so go out and buy one before you go travelling!
I did receive some slightly problematic news today that Tibet was also not going to be open for us to go and visit, and news from a travel agency there suggests that independent travel will soon be a thing of the past. The Chinese government look et to stamp down laws making a guide and permits always necessary, which really sucks! So the new plan is to head along the Silk Road and through the 'stans'.
Friday morning the two of us had a pretty clear game plan, Olympic Stadium, train ticket to Lanzhou and then go to Chengde. The first portion worked out well as we caught the metro out to the Olympic Village, had a brief look around at what we were able to see and then made a move. Sadly the stadium wasn't completed, so it was impossible to see inside. In fact a lot of Beijing is kind of incomplete at the minute with building work still going on at a frantic pace. The dust that this produces and is then blown around by the wind was proving to be a real pain in the arse.
Beijing Main Train Station is a hectic place with long queues of people snaking from the ticket windows.
After taking the metro and walking to the station we eventually made it an hour or so later and found a ticket window with 'English speaking' above it.
It was already 15.30, so our day had pretty much disappeared from beneath us, so we jumped back on the metro for the journey all the way across to the east of town to the bus station that served Chengde.
Back on the metro for another 30 minute journey back to the hostel and it felt like everything was going wrong. I rang Kevin to see if he fancied going out and he did, so maybe it wouldn't be a lost cause after all. I phoned him back a couple of hours later and found out he'd just had his wallet stolen, so now wasn't sure what the plans were. This was a bad day! I told him that i thought it may be best to just skip the night out as it would probably just end up tragically too, so we reluctantly agreed to put it on ice.
After heading to our favourite little restaurant for some baby shrimps, egg fried rice and some pretty tasty soup, i suggested to Julia that we take a walk near Tiannanmen Square, to take some night time photos whilst the buildings were lit up. Jokingly i said that they would probably turn them off when they saw us arrive and after taking my first couple of shots, low and behold, everything went dark and they really did turn them off. You've got to laugh haven't you!? We went home, drank and beer and desperately waited for the clock to turn to midnight to end the day!
On Friday, we hoped things couldn't get any worse and decided to go to Tianjin for the day instead of Chengde.
Back to the hostel and thankfully they refunded me the money for the night as it was still before 12.00, so we checked out, packed an overnight bag and decided to head to Chengde after all! This time we did manage to get a ticket, yippee, miracle. Sadly we were put on some minivan rather than a bus, which had to drive around the busy streets of Beijing trying to pick up customers.