so... china! well, beijing!
the flight was about 13 hours in the end as we were delayed a bit. me and sam managed to watch 5 films on the plane, lol, we watched JUNO, very good, then RENDITION (v good, but bit serious for a plane journey!), then MR WOODCOCK (bit rubbish), then MARGOT AT THE WEDDING (absolute rubbish, me and sam were unipressed!) then SLEUTH (weir but good)! so that filled our time out and we even got nice food to eat, including a mini boost bar, lol, and cheese and crackers! we were happy flyers!
we got into beijing airport, all quite nice n sparkly n posh, we got our bags, wahoo, and then realised we had to get to our hotel... hmmm. we had the hotel name written down and had been told that we needed to get the no3 shuttle bus from the ai\rport to the train station where our hostel was oppposite on the corner! at 10:30 at night this does not seem a good idea, let alone possible! lol.
after attempting to look at the buses and asking a few questions, to which we recieved nothing but perplexed faces, we decided to get a taxi! lol. but even this was a big ask! the taxi driver had no idea and after a bunch of about 6 blokes were around us looking at the paper and jibbering in chinese, our taxi driver nodded and we got in with our bags. having no idea if we were going to get there or not, or whether our hotel would even still b open at this time, we were a bit stumped, but didnt have much choice so just hoped for the best!. the taxi driver was not very good at driving, which we found funny, and just avoided looking at the road. the taxi stopped and he nodded enthusiastically, we were apparrently here, only to us we wre just in a road, with stuff around us and lots of locals! hmm. not at all uncomfortable. lol. but like a big shiny star on our right we saw the sign for our hostel, wahoo! BEIJING CITY CENTRAL HOSTEL - BUDGET BUSINESS ACCOMMODATION, DELUXE BACKPACKER ACCOMMODATION! get in, this is more like it! we couldnt find our way in, and wandered around for 5 mins aimlessly, shooing off he hotel touts around us, ony to realise eventually that we ewre right outside our hostel, and one of the touts was actually trying to help us! eek!
we checked in, which toook forever, and went up to our rooms, halleluhia!
our room was travellodge stylee, twin beds, but no bathroom as that was shared cuz we were being cheap. lol. we had a tv, which unfortunately only airs chinese. :( and we had no windows... which made it very easy to leep in as even 9 in the morning felt like 4!
it was pretty noisy by our room, the walls and floors were thin and noisy, people just walking sounded like elephants and the two chinese guys next door had a row at some point! lol. funny. we didnt do much but go to bed.
the next day we showered and had a wander to the main shopping street, no idea what its called im afraid, can always paste it in later if you really want to know. we walked there with the map ewan had left sam at the hotel and we didnt do bad! the streets were rammed with shops and pricing was insane! iafter looking in a few different shops i eventually bought a 1GB memory card for my camera as i had run out,; priced at 500 in all the shops, i got it for 130 when i kept trying to leave! lol. ridiculous! not that cheap, about 9 quid, but a dam site cheaper than it was priced! lol. we wandered around lots of shops, there is a lot o olympic games merchandise here, not that anyone who comes here for the olympic games will be able to get around as about 1 percent of the population has any understanding of english! tricky that. i wanted to buy a journal as id finished my australia one, but this was tricky too, i found an okay one in a giant 7 floor bookstore, very strange, but thought id look around. mistake! lol. sam wasnt really looking for anythin so we just had a browse round.
dinner that day was a challenge, after going to the bakery accross the road for breakfast which is absolute heaven, like the best foor iv ever tasted in my life, and probably the most fattening!, we looked around anxiosy about where and what we could eat. we eneded up wandering to some food hall type thing, all chinese food. after wandering riund without a clue for about 15 minutes we some some plain noodles and chicken satays rthat looked safe, we watched what the woman infront did and followed suit, it cost us 25 each, thats about 2 quid, we were happy, except the ood was gross, greasy and well greasy. we ate it, lol, but felt crap after, a month in china was beginning to look like a really long time.
back at the room we did our clothes washing, in the one washer and one drier available. both cost 10 yuan, about 60p, and took forever. the washer 40 mins and the drier 2 HOURS! lol. funny. we couldnt stmach chinese again for tea so ordered pizza from the restaurant in the hotel. this too was a masive dissapointment. gutted. greasy again, no pizza sauce just cut up tomato, and enough oregano to season a pizza restaurant, never ind just ours. however, on form, we ate the lot. lol. and i vowed not to eat the same tomorro, we both felt sick. lol.
next day was officially our first day on our beijing tour, thought we didnt meet our group til the evening when we had a briefing, and went out for a meal. o god, more food. we checked out of our room in the morning, and checked back in straight away to our tour booked room... we werent sure if it was going to be better or worse... we were happy!
so, in the day we headed to the silk market, walking again as the subway seemed a bad headache! if only we had known, as a confessed shopper, i love shoppping, but the silk market killed my shopping ability, we hated it! it was quite possibly the worst shopping experience of my life! and we thought the subway would be a headache! lol. crikey!
the silk market is about 7 storeys and eacjh must have about 100 stalls, a couple of floorts of clothes, shoes, jewellery, silk, you name it. and nothing was priced. we quickly learnt not to ask the price or even stop to look unless we were prepared for a full on exhausting debate. lol. to do either of these things means you want it more than anything, and they wont let you leAve til youve accepted a price, and that price, like with the sd card, drops to at least a fifth, if not a tenth! they were grabbimng us as we went past, 'lovely lady' 'beautiful girl' not going to work, we hated it and needed to leave, but each floor just bought more madness! lol. in the end we escaped. intense was not the word!
as if we hadnt punished ourselves enough, we then decided to have a quick look in the friendship store on the way home, not knowing what was inside. this too was another multistorey shopping adventure. lol. but without the hassle, as it mainly was a posh jewellers, olympic games merchandise and really bad local cloting/souvenirs. happy, we left and went for a subway! lol.
basic english food went down a treat, we werent even hungry (where we appear to be going wrong) but ate it for the pure fact it wasnt chinese and it contained salad! after that we went back to the hotel, had a nap, then i think we got up to meet in reception at 6 to meet our group!
we ,et in the lobby. our guide is a lively tiny chinese woman with pretty good english called shirley! we wemt to a restaurant where we all wenmt through the payments and paperwork and shirley told us a bit about china. we all introduced one another and on firt impressions our group wasnt too bad. (excuse typos more frequent than usuial, most of the letters are no longer still on the keys so now and then i get confused!). we have sarah and terry, a couple from england, jamie a lad from cornwall, suzie and laura from ireland amnd patrice from ireland/london. everyone seems ok!
we had our meal in the restaurant, thanks to shirleys ordering and it was amazing! lol. the food was ace! particularly the peanuts n chicken and the fish flavoured chicken which sounds disgusting but was lovely!
this was all days ago now so my mind is going blank, but we did a lot in beijing! other than whats already mentioned we also then went to the tianamnen square (quite boring, big square few monuments and statues and buildings around), the forbidden city (quite nice, lots of photos, bit boring after a while though, couldnt understand the guide much, but she liked to say 'in the passsst...', and had a cap saying 'pump up the power' on), the summer palace (similar to the forbidden city but bigger and no guide this time cuz we were stingy, nice lake and street of chinesey lokoing oldy stylee shops!) and wandered the streets (smelly, smoggy, spaced out, main shopping street and amazing bakeries)! lol. it was all good and on our third day the weather turned gorgeous, and has been ever since! instead of us wrapping up in every layer we had we were now walking around in just a tshirt (and trousers obviously!)
beijing was not exactly what we expected and to be honest after almost a week there we were ready to move on asap. lol. in xi'an as i write this its much better here, but thats another story!
sorry the end got a bit rushed there folks vut we havent hasd internet access for a while and we have had so much to catch up on, my mind just went blank! plenty more on its way though... not sure about the pictures thoughcuz its not so easy to upload here at all, or ring home either! much loves for now... tess, and sam xxx