It’s finally Reading Week at HKU! While it means that I’m already halfway through the semester and will go back home soon, it also means that I can be travelling without feeling guilty for skipping class. Not that I was anyway. Where was I going to spend my one week holidays? Sunbathing in the Philippines? Nope, I’ll get bored. Being edgy with South Korea or risky and go North Korea? Fuck that, either way, it’s too expensive. Yes, I’m being a cheap bitch, come fight me! Unfortunately, all my friends disagreed with me and decided to go with the latter. So one late night, or early morning if you prefer, my drunk self-made a decision for me, out of the blue. I woke up the day after to realise that apparently, I had booked a hostel in Beijing at around 4 am. God, I knew that third Wasabi Shot was gonna be too much. Nevertheless, my intoxicated mind decided China was a good idea, so China it was gonna be. I sobered up, stick with my plan and went to buy train tickets, 90€ return, cheaper than the plane and I could see China’s countryside. Now, here’s the joke: for the price I paid, I wasn’t taking a bullet train, I was travelling on a normal train. What’s the difference, I hear you say? Well, China’s Railway system isn’t the most recent one, therefore, to go from Hong Kong to Beijing it took me 26 hours.
Yes, one fucking day and an hour.
Needless to say, I was thankful for that bunk bed they forced me to book. Picture me getting on that train with my bag pack containing a few clothes, some hygiene necessities, a book, and loads of food. I looked like a guy that thought he would never make it back home. I’d like to tell you about what a horrible experience it was but truly I slept through most of it and the rare times I was awake, it was quite comfy and I could read peacefully. Fast-forward to a day later and I’m in Beijing, without money or any idea how to go to my hostel. Add to this that most of their ATM don’t accept Visa and the population doesn’t speak a single word of English and you get how fucked I was. I arrived at 3 pm and it took me three more hours to get to my place. I was exhausted but I found the 365 Inn like a lighthouse in a sea of tiny noisy people. Hallelujah ! The staff spoke English and were super nice ! They showed me to my 2 bunk beds room and I started unpacking. Yes, Drunk Me decided not to book the room with 12 bunk beds because I was travelling alone. Even drunk I can be practical and safe. As I was saying, I was unpacking when I came in my other “roommates” : a Finnish couple and an American, all in their late twenties. As a matter of fact, everyone I met during this was way older than me, I’m talking more than 23 years old.
I, for once, was the baby but they were nice and I got my first dinner in Beijing, burger and fries, very typical I know, with them. In fact, we stayed at the hostel and talked while getting drunk till 2 am. The morning after, I don’t know what came to me but I woke up quite early and decided to go visit Tian’anmen Square and the Forbidden City. I was lucky to discover they were both 5 min away from my hostels. Jesus, this hostel kept on being better ! I thought getting through the square was gonna be easy and fast. Oh Lord was I wrong ! Did I tell you that square can contain up to 8 million people ? Well, apparently the word got around because every damn local and tourist were there. It took me an hour to cross that gigantic place. Sure, I spent 20 minutes taking selfies but looking at them now I know it was worth it. I’m telling you they about to make me InstaFamous. Still, though, I definitely think you’d need water, food and camping material to cross this tourist crowded sea. The Forbidden City was easy to find as it’s the biggest villa in the world and it as a giant picture of Mao in front of it. Now, I studied a bit of China’s history but I didn’t know mah boi Mao was that good at selfies. I guess when you take a good one you better show it to everyone and what better way than putting it on the biggest place in the country. The Imperial Palace was indeed imperial, so many rooms for so many purposes. I don’t even wanna think about that cleaning bill, not that there was any.
#Servant #LifeOfAnEmperor #Blessed
Even though I was exhausted I managed to get my ass to the Temple of Heaven in the afternoon and what a beautiful place to sacrifice animals. Joking. The night went as usual, with dinner and drinking until one of us passed out. However we had new additions to our group of alcoholics, irony would have them to be two Irish and a bloke from Liverpool.
Drunk decisions also made us decide to go hike a remote part of the Great Wall so call it a miracle because we managed to wake up at the ungodly hour that is 5 am and get on a bus for three long hours to arrive at Jinshanling. About 10 kilometres later I can say that y’all calling out on Trump for building a wall but the Chinese did it first and I’ll add that I was at lost for words when I was at the top of one of the watchtower. This was it, on that wall, I had my emotional moment of the year. Less than 6 weeks ago I was in France, on holidays with my family and now, at 19 years old I was across the world, on the fucking Great Wall of motherfucking China.
What. Is. My. Life.
I stayed in a sort of trance for most of the walk back. Then I came back to my senses as we were in a restaurant and I was gonna make sweet sweet love to whatever was in my plate. I pretty much didn’t do anything that night and the following day as I was quite sore from the hike. Who was I to think that me who doesn’t exercise at all would be super fit for a hike on a wall that goes through China? Nevertheless, my “bunkmates” offered to take me to a local restaurant to try a speciality of Beijing, the Pekin Duck. Now, a fat ass like me or as I prefer calling myself, a gourmet, has already tasted this roast but mind you people that I still had a mouthgasm when I had the first bite. The interesting part of the night is when I came back from that sublime dinner and met not one group of exchange from HK but two, one from HKUST and another from PolyU. That night we tried to find a karaoke bar but failed miserably. The next day I went with the people from HKUST, Andree, Christian and Nik to the Hagquion Market, “just to see”. I came out with the equivalent of 150€ less in my wallet. I won’t talk about it, I’m shameful, I know. At least, I can tell you that I got a silk robe that’s so majestic that it allows me to look down on people and call them peasants. I was already doing that anyway. We decided to let the night take us and how am I not surprised that we ended up doing a bar crawl that ended up in V, a pretty good club known to foreigners. We got a table and some of us paid for the many bottles that we poured, just not me due to the reasons aforementioned. I still have one thing fucking my brain up from that night, though, one of the “dancers”, a white girl that would pole dance and flirt with guys in the public close enough to the stage, she had a striking resemblance, if not identical to one of my exes. Still wondering if that wasn’t her. For my last day, I went to the summer palace which was impressive but not as much as the Forbidden City. I finished the day doing some work. Yeah some of us don’t study psychology degree so we actually have to work. The night as the last one took us to some random bars and we got to the Beijing Underground scene. I didn’t sleep that night.
In conclusion, while my trip to Beijing was random, it was pretty cool. I met many awesome people and did many incredible things. My most vivid memories, however, are that the people there spit every time and everywhere. Gross. Add to this that they’re quite rude and won’t hesitate to push you. Although Beijing is very polluted, with a pollution rate of 398 compared to the feeble 32 of HK, the city felt less populated than HK. Weird, I know. If I’m criticising it don’t take it as if I don’t like Beijing. I often criticise stuff I love, look how many times I criticise myself. I do think the people attitude was just a difference of culture and the quality of the hostel, 365 Inn, and the warmth of the people I was there with convinced me already that I’ll be returning to the former Pekin soon. In the meantime, China, teach your people some manners and most of all, teach them how to bargain better because damn they shit at it. Until next time, may Mulan protect you.