Arrived in one piece in Beijing, I was supposed to meet up with a friend from College, Ionel. Except that I couldn’t call him on his Hong Kong cellphone number – learned afterwards, that it was blocked by the Chinese government. (along with any social media that exists…so no Facebook either). And, of course, I didn’t have his home address, nor his Chinese cellphone number!! Great start, Cristina!! Good job!! My head is definitely on holiday!!
I decided to go to the bank, to exchange some money in the chinese currency (RMB), grab a cab, go to a hostel where I would definitely have some kind of access to Internet…sounded like a good plan except that…I couldn’t find the keys of my locker on my hand-lugagge; wallet, passport, phone & laptop were in the hand-luggage, so no access to them.
At that moment I was about to scream in the street!! Why me!?! Those things always happen to ME?!? Damn it!! So, the inside pocket of my brand NEW sweater has a hole, big enough for some tiny keys to fall through it…I did twice my steps back, with no luck, no keys to be found!! Of course, it’s a Samsonite locket of good quality, can’t be broken with your barehands….of course… I met then an Irish couple, the guy suggested to crack it open with 2 filaments of steel, then wished me luck!! Yeah, I am going to need A LOT of it… where in the hell am I going to find some steel?!? seriously!?!
I finally remembered my mother telling me she put the swiss knife…. somewhere…started to unpack my bag, found the knife in question and started to break trough my locket in the middle of the street… I think at that point, Chinese people were thinking that I was crazy!! Succeeded in opening my bag!! Hurrah, I am almost dancing in the street!!
Shameful moments during this ATW trip: 2 and counting…
Next step finding a bank that exchange dollars against RMB…Of course, not a single people I encountered that afternoon could speak English, French, Italian, Spanish or Dutch…that would have been way too easy… I feel like I am walking in circles…till I finally spot a bank! Victory!! Small dance again!!
I see that some cabs are parked a bit further. They start negotiating the price, I am pretty happy about myself as my end-price is the third of what they asked initially…I found later that they were still clearly rubbing me (asked 100RMB, when it would only cost 20RMB). The taxi driver is a grandpa. Everything goes smoothly until he stops, opens my door and tells something in Chinese while pointing at my bags (I am guessing he wants me to put them in the trunk!?!) and mimes that I should hide/lie on the seat…(I am guessing that he is an illegal taxi driver, that there is a security check point somewhere further the road). There is no way in hell, that I am about to do what he is asking!! I am saying NO NO. He continues to mime and speak chinese. I decide to step out of the cab…he just look at me then get in the cab and leaves!! So, basically I am in the middle of nowhere, and it’s getting dark (already 6pm)!! Great!!
I spot a yellow sign with the letters MC DO…aaaahh comfort food, much-needed at that point!! And just in front of it, there’s the subway. While I eat my junk food, I see in my LP that the hostel is just next to a subway station. Perfect!! The subway costs me 2RMB (way cheaper than the 100RMB asked by that crazy taxi driver) I am saved!! “All is well, all is well”.
At the hostel, my roommate is a 72 years old sweet grandma – Eddie from Alaska, who 6 years ago sold everything she owned, and decided to travel around the world!! Amazing!! As I am falling asleep, I can’t help but wonder for the million times “Why do I ALWAYS find myself in some insane/weird/crappy/ridiculous situations? I could write a book about all my misadventures….Why me? aaaaaahh”. Tomorrow is another day… a fresh, better start in Beijing, hopefully!!