Beijing 2005, Part 1

{REPOST : 2005, content edited, edited content in italics with strikethrough}

Arriving in Beijing was a mess.  Our bus was two and a half hours late in getting there and then we had a wonderful fight with the taxi driver.

The bus station is about thirty kilometres from the hostel we were staying at, which means it was going to be a bit of an expensive ride.  No problem, I budgetted fifty kwai for the trip .  Not the whole trip (I spent about 2200 kwai) but the taxi ride.  You know what I meant.

Watching the meter, when it rolled to sixty-five I began to get a little annoyed.  There was no way this should be costing this much.  We found out, as we were arguing with the driver, that he was trying to charge us three kwai per kilometre.

Now, neither Olya or I are stupid Lao Wei so we know that a taxi should cost either 1.2 or 1.6 kwai per kilometre.  When we got where we were going I handed the shitheel a fifty and walked away, even though the meter read one-hundred and fifteen.

He was pissed, but hopefully he was pissed at his own ignorance rather than the fact that he got stiffed – the trip back cost us fourty so he actually did get more than he should have.

Wonderful way to begin the vacation, yeah? It’s damn good Olya can speak Chinese…she tore him a new asshole.

My friends rock.

We get to the hostel and start to check in.  We only want one room, but we want two beds.  We didn’t want to bunk with people we didn’t know because we had our own agenda and there were a fuckton of people meeting us at all hours of the night, so we would be running around at random hours

The hostel clerk couldn’t get this.  Since Olya is female and I’m male, we must be a couple.  Since they want to save the double rooms for non-couples, why can’t we take a single with a double bed?  The logic is amazing…how do you explain to someone that if I sleep in the same bed as this girl I could get my balls ripped off and fed to me when I get back to the states?

Twenty minutes later we get the room.  Let me say here that this is the only issue we had with the hostel connected to Poacher’s Inn.  The rest of the time we stayed there it was wonderful, the staff was great and I would highly recommend them if anyone else is heading to Beijing in the near future.

So we go upstairs to get a bit of rest.  We wake up, head to Subway so I can get my fix and then grab the subway (notice the lack of capitalization…that means it’s the underground train not the food spot!…trust me, this is important.  Not to the story, but to real life.  Later during the week Olya and Vivian set up a meeting to go shopping.  One of them ended up at the sandwich joint, the other at the train.  How do you speak with capitalization? Is this one of the longest asides you’ve seen in parenthesis? Do you want me to get back to the story so I can, at some point, get to the point, which I’m only barely getting close to?) to Tiananmen Square.

We wander around a bit then get on the bus and head to the Temple of Heaven for a bit of tourism.  The temple was cool but we didn’t get to see many of the buildings because it was late when we got there and they were closing them.  That’s okay, the garden was more beautiful anyway and after living in Taiyuan it was a relief to see that much green, that many flowers and trees, and walk in the serenity that was there.  We spent a few hours there and then got on a bus and headed back to the inn.

There’s a nice little restaraunt there and I had some well made Harvey Wallbangers and a great lasagna before we decided that it would be nice to get some more rest before we had to get up and meet the other arrivals.  Vera, Mike, Jed and Mark would be coming in that night…Vera at about four in the morning and Mike, Jed and Mark a bit later.

We slept for a few hours and then at two o’clock in the morning Olya decides to wake me up.

“Let’s go to the bar.”

Ok.   Um.  “Yeah, ok.”

We went to the bar…Poacher’s to be exact.  And I’m almost ready to get to the whole point!  Aren’t you glad you’re still with me?

Poacher’s is slammin’.  People are dancing on the bar, people are dancing on the tables, the DJ is playing some pretty decent hiphop and the bartenders are giving me crazy looks because I’m walking around like a zombie and ordering orange juice.

We catch an empty booth and I drop my ass into it so I can quench my thirst (I’m always horribly thirsty when I first get up) while Olya dances.  Within a few minutes a young guy walking around stops at the table and asks permission to sit.  “Sure,” I say.  “We could use some company.”

“Do you smoke?” he asked me after a few minutes.  He spoke with an Irish accent and I later found out it was because – surprise, surprise – he was from Ireland.

He leaned in a bit because it was really loud in there, not because he was trying to be secretive. “I’ve got some tobacco.”

“Yeah, sure.”

I tried to act cool, but I was pretty elated by this.  Getting woken up at two o’clock in the morning doesn’t really bother me; I’ve been dealing with it from my friends since I was about thirteen.  However, it does put a crimp in my partying and the last thing I want to do is get pissed and dance.  Tobacco would be good at this point.

Now, I should add another aside here and then I’ll continue so we can actually get to the main point and many of you can get back to work and finish reading my novel.  Pissed, in this context, does not mean angry.  It means drunk.  Many of you will confuse that because in the states you seldom run into that meaning.  There it is.

Olya went upstairs to the room and grabbed some beer (we had brought some with us. are you getting sick of the asides yet. if so, you may want to never read anything i write again, because this is common for me. deal with it or not…i’m addicted to them. they make me feel all warm and fuzzy.) and the three of us proceeded to sample the tobacco.  I like being able to smoke tobacco in the bar.  Feeling persecuted for doing something safer than drinking is asinine…completely fucking asinine.

When we were done, Olya went back to her dancing and he and I (I forget his name, sorry) talked for a while.  When he found out my name was Jericho he asked the common follow up question: Are your parents religious?

“No, they were hippies.”

“Ah, I know the story.”

Here’s where I get to my point.  He didn’t really know the story.  He wouldn’t know my parents from Adam.  But he did know the gist of the story and with the exception of proper nouns he could have told it pretty accurately.

Maybe it was because I had sampled tobacco, maybe it just struck the right chord and made me remember it but I held on to those two sentences, although I forget most of the rest of the conversation because it was incidental chatter that will probably never be important to me. I remember it enough that I can tell the basics of it; I may even use them in another post because some other topics that interest me came out of the Beijing trip and this conversation could help by referencing.

The point of the matter is – I lost a story.  You may be wondering why this matters.  If so, go ahead and read my next post – which I’ll be writing immediately.  I’m breaking this up because this is getting pretty long and I’m not sure everyone cares.

If you’re reading this blog just for something to read you can move on to the next post.  If you’re sick of reading this blog, now is a good time to stop.

That essentially wraps up my first day in Beijing.  If you’re reading this blog because you actually care what I have to say and you think I may have some insights or knowledge to pass on you may want to seek psychiatric help, but I really do appreciate it!

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