Saturday, October 4, 2014
Day 1 in Beijing
The first night in Beijing was much less than I expected. I was told by who I was couch surfing with that I would be rooming with women teachers and students. I ended up in a room with 3 late teenage boys and the guy who offered me the "couch". He first put me on the top bunk above the teens. I haven't had to climb up on a top bunk for a few years and I'm not the type of person who sleeps or climbs on the top bunk. I get up there and was waiting for people to go to bed as I was completely exhausted and all the lights were on. Finally, the guy told me I could sleep in his bottom bunk which was pretty much in a closet with windows.
I am usually quite content and figured if I can't deal I will just find a hotel. I guess I am just getting to an age where I want a bit more comfort... Especially if I'm not home in TicTac.
The bathrooms in China are a bit different. It is one open space... No shower curtain or anything so when you shower the entire room gets wet... Including the toilet. I was quite happy to have a western toilet and not a whole in the ground but it was always wet... And the floor was always wet so you had to wipe down the toilet and hold up your pant legs so your clothes wouldn't get wet. Also, sharing a bathroom with teenage boys is disgusting. It smelled so bad I would gag while brushing my teeth. I wasn't courageous enough to shower in that bathroom. Yuck-O! I have no idea what this guy was thinking when he offered me the place to stay.
The first day I went to the Forbidden City and the 2 parks surrounding the Forbidden City. I was a lot of walking and a lot of stairs but it was a beautiful day. I will have more pictures when I get back to the states and can take them off my camera but here are a few to start from my iPad.
What I learned quickly is the subway is super simple in Beijing. I downloaded a Beijing Metro app on my iPad which was helpful but there are subway maps everywhere to check to see where you need to go. I bought one ticket each time I went to the subway. The temp tickets only last the day and you scan to get in and insert them to get out without them being returned. Don't be afraid to push to get a spot. It wasn't as crowded as I thought it would be. Certain times of the day were quite crowded but nothing like you see on YouTube where they push people in.
Every place has security so if you can get away with not carrying a bag then don't. I never carried my bag and got thru security quickly but if you bring a bag you have to wait in huge lines to get the bag checked thru the scanner. I'm not a huge fan of crowds and people so if I can avoid I do.
On the way back to where I was staying I stopped at he Super Walmart for some food since there weren't many places to eat in the area. What an interesting place. First, there would be no RV parking there. They had underground parking and a lot of people rode their bikes.
There are multiple floors... Just confusing. I only went to the grocery section which had fresh fish on ice and in water. Everything was strange looking but you could find what you needed. In the produce section they had a counter with workers that weighed your produce and put a tag on it so there is no looking up at the checkout. I guess to save time but not sure how efficient that really is.
I found a couple things to eat and had to go in what felt like circles and escalators to the check out... And guess what... Not enough checkers... And it was hot... Either no AC or it wasn't on very high. Lines were much closer together and crowds of people. I almost just left as it was taking forever but I didn't have any food so I had to suffer thru... I survived.
It was an enjoyable day but was dreading going back to where I was staying with the teenage boys. I told myself after my tour the next day I could find a new place... So that meant two more nights. I went back to where I was staying and the door was locked... The place was suppose to be open all the time. Luckily I knocked and someone let me in. I went straight to my bed. It was a crowded place with many dorm type rooms and the open spaces were filled with stuff. I just stayed in my bottom bunk, watched a movie and fell asleep not talking to anyone. It was very confusing because the deal was I spoke with his students for an hour a day and I would get a meal and a place to stay. No one was every around for conversation or a meal... And to be honest the place was dirty and smelled funny so there was no way I would be able to eat there.
The lovely view from my closet bunk bed.
Just kept telling myself... It is a free place sleep. Fell asleep excited about the Beijing Sideways tour to the Great Wall in the morning.