Turns out no one wants to go to the police station.
Beijing Travel Blog› entry 32 of 251 › view all entries
April 17th, 2008 – by: cmgervais
But one funny cab driver we had yesterday morning made up for a dozen cranky ones. I was sitting in the front seat, and he carried on a lively one-sided conversation in Chinese with me, complete with hand and arm gestures. The gestures had to do with where we were going (Bally's Fitness), so I was able to play along with cartoon jogging motions. When we got to our destination, I said "thank you" in Chinese as I exited the cab.
My friend and loooong time travel partner Lisa is visiting from Minneapolis (yippee!). She arrived last night, so we were "up late" talking and getting situated. Until midnight! We got up early (6am), and the three of us -- me, Lisa, and Steve -- headed out to Bally's bright and early.
After Bally's, our plan was to be dutiful tourists and register with the Chinese police. You are supposed to do this within 24 hours of your arrival. So we hopped in a cab and I showed the driver the address in Chinese characters. He shook his head, said a bunch of stuff that I took to mean, "Police? What, are you kidding me? Get outta here!" We then tried another cab and got the exact same reaction. So we decided to give up on the notion for now (I am OK with skipping it altogether, as the concept rankles me thoroughly) and went to the grocery store instead.
If it seems that I spend a lot of time in the grocery store, well.
Back at home, we set upon our meals with trepidation. Frankly, mine looked like tripe or intestines. It was actually bean curd noodles stir-fried with vegetables -- spicy and delicious.
From there we decided to head to Tiananmen Square. An easy day was planned, because Lisa may be battling jet lag in the afternoon (Turns out she was absolutely fine, which is typical. I had some sort of sympathy jet lag though, and was sleepy all day. I even dozed in the cab! I think it's because I was "up late."). The driver gave us a little hassle that we couldn't understand, and dropped us a little ways from the actual square. No idea what the problem was.
We finally found our way into Tiananmen Square, and my first reaction was... This is it? Considering the history and drama behind this place, and of course the sheer overwhelming size, I guess I expected more. As it was, I was completely underwhelmed. It was a huge expanse of concrete with some statues, frequently punctuated by soldiers. Big deal.
We gawked about for awhile and soon a woman came up to Lisa and asked her to pose for a photo. Lisa looked confused (understandable, right?) and the lady jumped up and down saying "please, please, please!" So Lisa smiled and said cheese, then another lady wanted a photo .
As we exited I happened to notice a women carrying a sign -- smallish, but definitely meant for others to read. How odd, I thought -- you just don't see that type of thing here. Pretty soon Steve alerted us that the police were making an arrest right behind us -- sure enough, they scooped up that lady within minutes of her displaying the sign! I wonder what it said?! Can you even imagine this? Oooh, I could rant here, but I really don't want to get political. This is just a travel blog.
From there we decided to check out a place listed in Fodor's which was a bar with no name in an area called Houhai. Since the place doesn't have a name it was hard to instruct the cab driver. We do like a challenge! I just gave him the phone number and he had a lengthy conversation that resulted in us being let off in the general vicinity of the bar, in a very quaint and cute neighborhood on a lake. It was obviously Tourist Central, as the hawkers were everywhere, selling tours and pedicab rides. The setting was so pretty, with willows over the lake, and old wooden buildings.
We finally found our bar, a ramshackle place and none too clean.
From there we walked around the area. There were some quaint little shops, fancier restaurants, and lots more people than our neighborhood. Pricing levels are completely different here, too.
The cab ride home took a very long time and was astronomically expensive -- over $5! We steamed up our newly purchased bao, and discovered it all contained meat. Dang. Lisa dissected hers and removed the meat, but I stuck with broccoli, left over rice, and a salad. For dessert she and I had peanut butter sandwiches. Good thing Steve likes bao, because he now has nine of them to eat...
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