The Great wall, Forbidden City,Tiananmen Square and Terracotta Warriors
Beijing! Finally I can wear my bright red jacket and meld into tour groups all strangely wearing them...hmmm...anyhow! Finally after all the ordeals I land on Chinese soil.
Straight away I realised that communication is going to be a hassle. I fail to be able to say even the easiest things. The same word could mean 5 different things or more based on the tone you use! (My tones are as bad as my signature, never the same twice). The directions and what bus to catch are quite good for the hostel so I make there easy enough. They have a bar inside with a kitchen to order food. The room is not bad, plain and clean but with a damp smell from the bathroom. The shower is just on the wall and runs onto the floor so thankfully there is a high bar to hang you clothes to change with, it has it's own boiler so I'm hopeful the hot water will be good too. My room mate is Juan Claude Van Damme, well looks like him and I find out later he is from Belgium, makes sense with JCVD from there also. It's to late to do much of anything so I chill out with a beer and finish off some blogging.
I wake up lateish, as It's not going to be that big of a day and having everything I want to see within walking distance of the hostel is a plus.
The first thing on the agenda is the Forbidden City. I head down, it's only a short walk. On the way I come across my first tour group all in bright red jackets, I felt like this could be the place to rip out the "Bright red Jacket". Anyhow I was walking to the city and I get stopped by these young girls, they talk some idle country and weather chitchat then ask if I wanted to go and get a coffee and practice english. you know, get a real feel for the chinese culture. So I politely decline alarm bells had rung early on and was just waiting for the pitch. So the ruse is that they take you to a pre determined coffee shop where you have coffee, the thing is that they just get it ordered or brought to the table. you drink it and thank them then go to leave but no, your blocked by goons and you need to pay for the "special" coffee you just enjoyed and by "special" i mean "Fucking Expensive". The other one is a young student asking you to come and just see his schools art exhibition, feeling sorry for him you agree then find after trying to leave that there was a "viewing" fee .
So as I get to the Forbidden City main gate now with shield up on yellow alert I take in the majesty of the building... Yet the moment was kind of disturbed by a little kid urinateing on the bins in the picture there but...T.I.C! So I continued on, dodging the hawkers I got my ticket and went inside. Here are some pictures... I try for a picture from a passerby, I hate having them take pictures for this very reason..did I say "ok I want my head right in the middle of the backdrop I'm trying to capture!". There is more but I just upload them, so feel free to browse (I usually upload more than I put on the blog).
Off to Tianamen Square next which is close by there is a heavier military presence here with lots of groups of soldiers marching here or there. To get into the square you must go through security checks such as this Actually you have to go through checks like this for the train etc also...there seems to be cheacks everywhere. Usually I get in the militaries face and shoot pictures, hell I felt I could of taken pictures of the North Koreans at the DMZ easier but the Chinese guards did not seem happy..prime example (notice my lines are off because im rushing before I get shot haha) After walking around for a while declining coffee dates and art exhibits I saw a crowd forming and thought there must be something going on So i waited, and waited....waited some more. Bored I headed off to explore the rest, here are some pics So I want to go back to the hostel but when I don't want to see the event people have been waiting for it's gonna happen and it blocks me getting back as all crossings are blocked during the change of the flag in the square, my over crowd picture
Next is the GREAT WALL OF CHINA, Yeah! *Que guitar solo*
Anywhoo, I plan to travel there by public transport. I dont need no stinking tour, I'm a traveller not a holidayer! (sure it's a word).... I take the tour after seeing the directions though.... The tour is really just a drive you there drop you off take you home kind of a thing and you can do what you want inbetween. The wall is pretty impressive, it definately would of kept the rabbits out! As you go along there are stalls that sell you goods like snicker, water, beer. You have to say no about a thousand times. Learning what I think was "no, thank you" in Mandarin "Bu, xie xie" I persist on...they laugh at me...I don't think I'm saying it right. She's in waiting to ambush haha Along the way back down I find something that boggles me for a moment, like the old story of the scuba diver found at the top of a pine tree. This is what I saw.. Now it settles in that it was possible but poor donkey having to climb up, he seemed really happy about it everyone started getting pictures with the donkey yet the stall owner that brought it up did'nt realise that his donkey was his best potential for revenue... I actually think I would of paid. I had one of the stall women actually nearly get me, well she kind of did. They have this ploy where they start off saying they will take your photo at the chinese flag they have on the wall exclaiming "Free, free, free" so your like ok, they just want to be good patriotic citizens. well I ended up with postcards somehow..ONLY because i was looking for some anyhow...so..if you get Great Wall postcard you know where it came from haha The Flag After enjoying the wall I get to do something I've been excited about before even leaving... Toboggan down the great wall! Patiently I waited for the people ahead of me to have a headstart so that I could go faster. I saw more people coming which I would have to wait for again so I decided that I had given them enough time. Down I head full throttle, it seems quite safe and it's really speeding up.....but it's not long till I catch up with the people in front of me where a mother is screaming with excitment travelling at maybe 10kmh...FUCKING KILLJOY! OMG im so frustrated moving then coming to corners and literally stopping as they break so hard they stop....I'm depressed speaking about it, so wall experience over.
As I head back to the hostel I'm starving and REALLY tired. I was late getting back to lunch which the guide said it would be ok to be late for and the people had all eaten everything.. anyhow I get back and I quickly deteriate into a delerious dehydrated dizzy madman. I order food as I know I need it and retreat to my room. I'm experiencing chills and crave heat, though I overheat and drench myself in sweat and as always when I get sick I get a whooping cough to top it off. Midway through the night having the room to myself a sliver of light blinds my sore eyes and in enters a new roommate. Mind you waking I felt a little more hungry so I climbed down and ate while telling him how sick i am and that I'm sorry about his sleepless night. I'm guessing the scene layed out in front of him was not a nice one as he moved to another room within 10 minutes haha.
So I went to Xi'an to see the Terracotta Warriors and took an over night train, I had two businessmen and a soldier as roommates. Was pretty good, recommend the "soft" bed style. So I get to Xi'an and first thing is to get Visas sorted so head off to get it extended, ends up that the PBS guy is suss on why I only have 10 days and will only give me 15 days to extend. I decide not to bother, I'm still sick and I lost my bankcard in Beijing and well... China has been a real hassle from the start. I get back to the hostel which i might add is an amazing hostel it's like I'm in a old english pub with pub meals back home. So for the rest of my days I am trying to recover and let my body fix whatever it is wrong as I still have the fever sweats going, could be menopause google tells me but i dunno. Anyhow, a fever aint gonna stop me seeing the Terracottaz so I head off. It's raining so im glad I get to use my raincoat finally. Anyhow here are the piiiicccsss.... It was like walking into a top secret warehouse under government control, lights beamed down through a misty haze. But I like the broken ones a little better for some reason, these headless guys had me chuckle a bitSee if you can spot me in this one... This is pretty much how I feel in any scenario with a mass of people when I wear my Bright Red Jacket! There are more pictures uploaded.
As Nepal was my flight I had booked hopeing to change dates I had to cancel it. I did not want to head to Nepal with a fever, gammy knee and well, it's cold! Sooo I opted to go somewhere I had no planned on but have heard a many great things on my travels, Taiwan. SO I'm now in Taipei, Taiwan and I must say that I'm liking the city. The air has humidity, the city reminds me of seoul a bit, it seems a bit more like the china I imagined and not the reality China. I have been able to shake my fever not having to warry about hot and warm temperatures so much. The hostel I'm at is a shock back to reality of the backpacker after being spoilt with my last one.
I know your probably tired by now lol but I thought I'd just throw in some snaps I've taken of Taipei (oh, my Camera has somehow fixed itself, It may of just been a power issue). If you did'nt know, Taipei has the second tallest skyscraper in the world!
There is a really cool night market close to where I'm staying that has awesome food, this is where I got dinner last night
Well anyhow, that's whats going on with me ;p I hope all is well with you