So my flight arrived the other day in Beijing at around 7 PM. I figured out how to withdrawal money from the ATM and get to my destinations fairly easily. After claiming my baggage and heading out of the airport with 1000 RMB I followed the signs to the local bus station for Line 7 to Beijing West Railway Station. Barely anybody spoke English and if they did they only knew a little of it, which didn’t surprise me at all. I regret not learning basic Mandarin before making this trip, but the spontaneity of this trip made that quite impossible since I planned everything in the matter of a few days.
I bought my train ticket in advance from the South Square Beijing West Railway Station for the K117 to Chengdu on the 8th of November 2014. Despite being almost 9 PM, the lines flowed with people from all over Beijing trying to get to their destinations. I waited in line and showed the train clerk my passport and she handed me my ticket for Chengdu. Hunter ended up paying for the expenses of the ticket which totaled 456 RMB. I really appreciated it. I only know of Hunter through my old TrackeReactor days of giving away and requesting torrent tracker invites. We have kept in touch over these seven years and finally I am visiting his country, which despite the strict government, is beautiful in many ways.
After feeling like a boss, getting my ticket situated, I really contemplated sleeping on the ground right outside the station like many of the other locals whose trains did not leave until the morning of the 8th. However, the cold temperature and lack of sleep over the past few days made me change my mind. I walked around aimlessly and used one of the bathrooms by the McDonald’s. Shockingly enough, toilet paper and soap do not exist in their bathrooms, which I read before, but just forgot. I ended up buying a water from the vending machine and piddled around the station as the only foreigner in site. Two Chinese women came up to me and helped me get to a hotel down the road. Between broken English, my lack of Mandarin and using sign language and hand gestures to figure out what I needed they called me a shuttle and waited for me to leave safely.
It’s rather interesting how people can communicate despite speaking two completely different languages by acting like they need to sleep putting their hands under their ear and shutting there eyes, or acting like they’re eating food to show they’re hungry. The taxi took me to the hotel, which cost 500 RMB for the night. The price shocked me and seemed rather expensive, but 140 RMB I’ll get back when I check out for my deposit.
The room had two beds, which confused me, a computer (all in Chinese) and a small bathroom where the shower, sink and toilet are all in the same area. I took a shower this morning and I guess hot water does not exist here, so it ended up being a cold one, which woke me up instantaneously. I am about to check out and swing down S12 towards the Railway Station to grab some breakfast and catch my train in a few hours. I really wish Gmail was not blocked, but since it is I am unsure of how I will contact my friends and family. I’ll speak with Hunter and see if he has a way around the blocked content using a VPN. I’m sure he knows what he’s doing. I’ll update this with more pictures as my trip progresses. I really would like to visit the Great Wall of China right outside Beijing, but it looks like I won’t have time and I think it’s important for me to get used to the culture and learn some Mandarin first before I start going too crazy.