Three, Two, One, Touch Down!!!
Beijing Travel Blog› entry 3 of 74 › view all entries
Getting up at 4am was by no means an easy task and was made no lighter by the fact I had become very sick too. With some helpful encouragement and a great leap of faith I rushed down to Toronto to catch my flight to Beijing, China. Having never travelled internationally before, I was mostly herded around like a lost sheep; left to observe and follow those before me. At one point my mother could no longer follow me and we had to say our parting words right there and then; words, hugs and kisses I felt were too rushed. Then I took those hard first steps towards what would take me not only miles and miles away from everything familiar, everything loving and comforting but also out into the big wide world on my own.
When I arrived in the United States of America I remember my first thought being “oh good, that flight is finally over” followed shortly after by “oh gods, what if I get lost now?” o.o Luckily everything was still in English and most if not all food and surroundings were familiar; much like my homeland. Dare I even say I went so far as to forget American’s have their own currency? So when it came to buying my first meal of the day I was pleasantly surprised by the reminder that came soon after I handed over my carefully guarded Canadian money. “Oh, Canadian money, I will have to charge you four more dollars.” And then came the return money all in American. Great souvenir, for what am I to do with American money in China?
I was not surprised to see so many people connecting to a flight to Beijing China, the plane seats had been sold out completely. I was furthermore not surprised to see all of six westerners and the rest Chinese, taking this flight. Now let me say, I thought I could sleep some of the 13-14 hour trip; boy was I wrong. Not only did my legs ache from sitting so long (yes, even after I got up and walked, stood and moved) but I found myself overly bored after listening to my MP3 several times over, watching Inkheart once in English and Underworld 3 for the second time in English and even once in Chinese! At that point I was eager to get my feet back on solid ground. I did manage to beat out jet leg for the most part by timing when I slept and when I would be awake. It helped, a lot. And while though my right ear did pop on the descent, I walked off that plane happier than I have ever been; to get off a plane that is.
Making like a sheep and following the herd again, I was redirected to shuttle busses that would take us all to where we would be screened for swine flu. Let me just say, I have never seen such a huge airport, well maybe Toronto’s but still! And the heat! Oh was it ever hot. I think I was wiping sweat from my brow long before I ever took a step. The airport was no better inside, the glass seemingly having a greenhouse effect on us all; all who dared to press body to body in a line up to get past customs. Having completed the required forms on the plane ride it took me only 40 minutes to reach the front of the health inspectors who looked at my filled in form and then waved me on. Wow, a breath of fresh air; or so to speak, since my sinus infection was beginning to get worse.
Onwards I went to pass immigration booths, which took about 30 minutes or so. They checked our passports, read our filled out cards, waved us on. We were divided at these booths into Chinese nationals and foreigners; I half expected to see the word “alien” and was sadly disappointed. From there came luggage pick up, oh wait, a long ride in a subway like train which held the heat so well I wondered why we didn’t have these in Canada during the winter. Then the search began for my luggage. I’m not really sure how a person is to tell what conveyer belt their luggage comes off on (so if you know, please tell me!) but I did a lot of looking to no end. The whole ordeal cost me about an hour or more looking and a few notches off my pride belt. Just as I was about to cut my losses and admit defeat (ultimately fretting and realizing I would never see my stuff again) I happened to catch sight of a piece of very familiar luggage. Now, I don’t know how it ended up on a conveyer belt I passed many times without me noticing but there it was. I thanked all the Gods I knew of and decided on not changing my currency due to the line up and me being 3 hours later than when I said I would meet Wei. Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian, or it could just be because Wei knows my character, but she waited for me. When I came through those final doors to freedom that’s when I saw her. There, standing and waving me over was the love of my life; the woman I am destined to marry one day. I saw her wave, felt like a star with all those on-lookers and gladly let her take my bags as she introduced her friend Kelly to me and flagged down a shuttle bus. Her friend paid for us so thank you Kelly. Oh and yes, she wore the green hat like she promised.
Then came the onslaught of cuddles, the goodbyes to her friend, the amazement at the sight of a computer/TV crossbreed machine and a bathroom where the shower is not separated and the walls are smoke screened; so yes you can still see the person! There was no time for rest though, her friend Daniel came over and I must say she’s a spirited woman; much older than she looks! We went out for some Korean food, some sight seeing. I had heard tales, but I never knew the onslaught of Chinese speaking could give such a headache or hurt so much. I never thought it possible but for three days straight I couldn’t be around many Chinese speaking. So I spent most of the time with a headache. Still, the flashy lights, the booming music, the feel of Wei’s hand in mine guiding me as I stumbled around was too wonderful an experience to ever ask back.
At dinner at a Korean restaurant two more of Wei’s friends joined us. Kitty, Wei’s former dance teacher and Ike’s girlfriend as well as.. another girl who doesn’t have an English name (Sorry! I forget your Chinese name ahh! ^.^’) The four of us ate together and then they left on a scooter bike? It’s another one of their hybrid machines; mother was a motorcycle and father was a regular bike. You can use the gas, or you can peddle. Either way it seats two people and is very common in China, dare I say popular. I really want to ride one. Some more goodbyes from memories made and next thing I know I’m being dragged into a hair salon. I have never been to one, ever. Well now I am in one with no idea what they want me to do when they are speaking to me. It was a little embarrassing, a little upsetting, and as much as I enjoyed being pampered I’m happy not to ever do it again. Then we rushed off but by this point my memory is mush. I shall consult Wei later on the details. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go to Qiao Qiao’s bar, nor see the Great Wall, but all in good time.
What to do in Beijing:
Go to Qiao Qiao’s bar
Ride a motorized bike
See the Great Wall of China