Friday, 29 May 2009

"Dude, there are Chinese people everywhere..." - Beijing (Day 01)

An interesting awakening to the Republic Firewall of China - is banned. A curtain to freedom of information pre-Olympics to stop any bad press (I suppose that is one way to do it...) and in order to blog you need to register with the Authorities. I'm just going to avoid a public flogging by uploading my blog retrospectively when I leave the country and head in to the democracy of Vietnam... No, wait. Hmm. I've also managed to find myself in one of the suckiest Internet cafe; I can't plug my camera in to upload any photos. You have been spared the spam of Facebook notifications from me for another day!

I made my flight on the second attempt. Those that have been unfortunate enough to have travelled with me can vouch for my ability to pretty much fall asleep before take off and wake up on landing. Best efforts so far has been London to Los Angeles to John's relief I'm sure. I was doing so well on the no spewing front but the ultimate test is usually on the landing: Cecilia fail. Woohoo to empty stomach and a second breakfast!

First thought that went through my head when I arrived in Beijing: "Dude, there are Chinese people everywhere...".

Rather than taking a taxi chez Ollie's bachelor pad in Wudaoku, I braved the airport train interline for ¥25 (1 GBP = ¥11.22). I was doing so well on the subway as all the signs are now foreigner friendly until I realised all those 'helpful' people had sent me to the wrong station. The airport subway map conveniently misses out chucks of stations, one so which happens to be 'Wudaoku'! D'oh. So I did hop in a taxi for a grand total of three roads 'round the block'. These are not ordinary roads mind you; these are Beijing super-sized roads with up to five lanes. They are death defying to cross, best conducted with your eyes closed and a 'just do it' head on... Whats the worse that can happen, right?

After a shower, what is now turning in to a three a day habit, I headed out to Beijing Station to prebook my sleeper train to Xi'an. Beijingers love their Chicken, KFCs are everywhere. No. I'm not going to succumb to globalised fast food chains (as she writes sipping on a bottle of Starbucks Frappuccino...) but low and behold I find a 'Kungfu'; Chinese food, fast! They definitely have the formula right in that store and I am sure it wasn't intended but its genius any how; I had to climb six flights of stairs to get to my food - Fat nations take note. Homely mince pork and rice, chicken soup with a whole chicken thigh, a plate of vegetable and a drink for ¥35!

Xi'an train ticket was purchased with no problems from an English speaker at counter 10... and then 2. We had to move as the ticket seller next to him was really loud. She wasn't just loud. Angry loud. Whilst I was getting my ticket some local women interjected as to which bunk I should book; curse her if it turns out to be shit. I went for a bimble around Tiananmen Square that even McNay would be proud of. When you look on the road map of Beijing, everything looks just a few roads away. Technically yes, but take whatever time guesstimation you had of how long it takes and throw it out. Tiananmen Dong to Fuxingmen (indeed my favourite station name, Fu-xing-men, get it? Oh Nevermind.) is only four stops away on a straight road; an HOUR it took me. I even some how walked pass Fuxingman, its on a straight road dammit and ended up at Nanlishilu; one station after.

Looking around I'm pretty sure communism advocated bad fashion and that has since yet to be beaten out by capitalism. Just look at what Mao wore for Pete's sakes. Its... Its the exposed pop socks, frilly tops, tacky bling on crop trousers with laces... Oh I can carry on with the list of crimes against humanity, Considering they have authorities for everything, what about a fashion police, eh?

My eyes are still adjusting to the multitude of yellow faces and they're pretty much at my height as well. I just can't help it though, when I walk in to a place and I see all these eyes gauping at this foreign looking me thats slightly chunkier that the average China girl with thanks to my diet of cheese, potatos and Starbucks; I instantly pan the room panicky searching for a white face to connect with. Yes I'm awful.

UPLOADED: 25/08/09