02.12.2013 - 02.13.2013 23 °F
Today is valentines day in China! And we are in Beijing! I kinda skipped blogging last night because i was really tired so this blog will all be about February 12th.
So I had mentioned prior that we had a really early flight from Shanghai to a Beijing. We were trying to figure out if it was easier to take the metro or a cab to get there. We decided on the metro as it was really early and we didn't think it was going to be that crowded. Nope! In China terms it wasn't crowded at all, but to us there was a good amount of people on the train, no where to sit and a tiny space to stand.
It took approximately 1 hour to get from our hostel to the airport. This included transferring the different metro lines and finding our airline check in spot which was a challenge of its own. We were worried that maybe our tickets weren't that legitimate, and we weren't capable of printing them before we showed up. However, when we checked in we simply said we are going to Beijing. She said at 8:55, ok would you like an exit row seat? God I love china.
The flight was about 2 hours, I passed out before the plane even took off and only woke up for breakfast and landing time. We ordered the "Chinese breakfast." Which was pretty much just watery bland rice. Kinda disappointing, but they also gave us yogurt which I had been craving for a while so it all worked out in the end.
We landed and immediately were crammed on a metro bus, then we were bussed to the actual airport. It was kinda strange. . While waiting for our bags, a little Chinese boy ran into me with their luggage cart. His dad kept telling him in Chinese "what do you say in English? So what do you say?" And he spoke in perfect English. "I'm sorry." It was adorable, and I so hope that my host family has kids.
We decided on cabbing it to our hostel as our packs were super heavy and we weren't too sure where we were going. The cab cost ¥65, and was about 30 min. Only about $5 for the each of us.
Our hostel was.....interesting when we first showed up. The cabby dropped us off at this gaudy looking arch that said Salitun Hostel, and an arrow pointing down a grody looking alley with a sign saying $3 massages. I was starting to doubt how good of a deal our $6 a night was going to be. I can say misty and I were both pleasantly surprised. It was like a night and day difference inside the hostel. Tiled floors, rustic looking tables and over all really clean and cool decor. We were placed on the 4th floor, in a 6 person mixed dorm. We eventually made it up all the stairs with a few rests in between. By the looks of the unmade beds we already had three roommates. Wether they were guys or girls we didn't know. We dumped our stuff and took a rest for about an hour. The room was really nice and I snagged the top bunk right next to the window, which is really cool at night because the fireworks from the new year are still going on and I can lay in my bed and watch them. Laziness to the max.
I searched through my guidebook of Beijing for the closest things to us as it was almost 2 and most places close at 4 or 5. By the looks of the map it was fairly "close." #2 really important tip about china, maps aren't drawn to scale. After getting coffee we walked for a good 45 minutes, we walked in a few circles, then found another temple.
Once we were closer to our hostel we decided to get a really good dinner to makeup for the lack of activities we did. And I want to give my utmost condolences to my brother, but...we ate turtle soup, and it was good. However it was like trying to eat a shredded shell. And every other bite you were spitting out chunks. Along with the turtle soup we ate Peking duck and sweet and sour pork. Peking duck is one of the most famous dishes in Beijing, and to be honest they kind of remind me of tacos. You are supposed to roll them up in this rice paper tortilla looking thing and put this stuff that looks like BBQ sauce on it. Expensive, but delicious. And I don't think I will ever be able to eat sweet and sour pork in the states again. No comparison. Our server was really funny, you can tell she wanted to practice her English. That's the one funny thing I've noticed, people want to speak English with us but are so unsure, mostly we hear them as we walk by going hello, oh hello. The shop keepers always go look look, buy yes? Look look. It's hirarious.
After dinner we wandered in the general direction of our hostel. First we stopped at the ATM because misty need some cash. By this point it was dark and getting kind of late. She put her card in the ATM....but it never came out. It turns out it wasn't actually an ATM but a BST (?) idk what that is. They had an emergency phone on the wall so we called and asked what we were supposed to do and they told us to come to the bank in the morning and we would be able to get her card back.
We continued on our way home. It turns out we had been taking a very far metro stop from our hostel, but we like to refer to the walk as embassy road. It's just streets and streets of embassies. They all have little Chinese guards that stare you down as you walk by, I will try and get a photo with one.
On the walk home we happened across a huge shopping center. We entered on the luxury goods floor. It was expensive, kind of. Things cost between $60-$100. We saw on the map that they had a hello kitty restaurant. Ermagerd, we had to see it. While snaking our way up the escalators we browsed in shops, and happened across a Columbia sportswear. SO EXPENSIVE. The lady kept pushing us to buy and trying to give us deals. She wanted us to buy a small polyester filled jacket for close to $400. HA! We went next door to north face, and things were a little cheaper. China sure is a strange place. By the time we made it to the 4th floor, the restaurant was closed.
We b-lined it for home. It was very very cold, and I was about froze by the time we made it there. We met our new roommates; Simba, Achmed, And Shobit. Simba and Achmed are medical students at a uni north east of Beijing. Shobit works in Shanghai. They were all very friendly and had been in China for years. I wanted to write part of my blog so I headed down to the hostel bar, and misty took a "nap." I got only one entry written before I met Kit from Hong Kong. He was traveling alone and had been all over Europe. He used to go to the Beijing Common University and studied business management but hated it. So he quit and applied to study Biology in Norway. This sort of thing was very frowned upon as his university in Beijing was pretty prestigious I guess, in spite of the name lol.
We talked for a few hours and by about 11pm I was struggling to keep my eyes open. I went back to the room, and Misty's nap had turned into a full fledge pass out stage.
Oh and these beds are actually comfortable, for once! I swear the last hostel just wrapped fabric around a piece of plywood and called it a bed.