Beijing Day Four
We were informed last night that there would be no electricity at the hostel pretty much all day the next day from very early in the morning. I was worried when I woke this morning that I wouldn’t be able to have a hot shower if there was no electricity, but fortunately I was able to and had one in the dark. Fun! After checking out of the hostel we went to find a shop called the Kevin Club that we had seen on our way to the hostel from the airport so I could take a picture and show Dad. We couldn’t find it. We also went to an X-Step shop to see if they sold Birmingham City shirts; they didn’t. Disappointed we headed to a mall to sit down for a drink and then a walk around. I cannot believe how big the malls are here. There are at least three and all as big as or possibly bigger than Merry Hill and the Bullring. There are so many clothes shops you are spoilt for choice. I can’t believe that so many clothes shops all survive. Also each mall will contain a number of the same shops.
After our 3 hours of walking again we headed back to the hostel where we sat for a while until our legs no longer hurt. We then made our way to the subway to get to the train station. Oh my god that was an experience I do not want to repeat too soon. The subway is packed regardless of the time of day. If I were using the London tube I would not try to negotiate it with a large backpack in rush hour. Well this is what we experienced today. Lots of stairs and very cramped on the subway. After the subway we got a taxi to the train station it was quite a walk and our legs were so sore and our backpacks so heavy we thought we’d treat ourselves. The taxi should have taken about 3 minutes but it took a little longer as the driver had a bit of road rage with a guy blocking the road. He got out and was hurling a load of what we thought was probably profane language. The guy in the other guy was seething and refused to move. We thought they were going to have a fight at one point and lots of other people got involved. When we eventually got passed the other driver was foaming at the mouth. We wish we could have understood what they were shouting at each other. The taxi cost us 10 yuan (about £1) and was definitely worth it.
There are a few things I have learnt about the Chinese during our stay in Beijing. We mentioned the other day that crossing the road is a risky business. We got used to that as the cars keep beeping at you until you move. They beep at everyone, pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers. It seems as though they have no patience. If there’s a queue or the road is blocked for some reason, they all sit there beeping until their path is free.
Here there is really no such thing as a queue. People line up but it is guaranteed that someone will jump in front of you at the last second. I had to put my arm out to stop a lady jumping in front of me in the toilets. The cheek of her! On the subject of toilets, there are two types of toilets in China, the civilised type that we use, and the squatting ones. The majority of the Chinese will use the squatting ones which I refuse to step foot in. The Chinese must have exceptional squatting ability and impeccable balance! Haha. Another thing about the toilets is that there is no toilet paper in each cubicle. There is usually (except at the train station where there is none) toilet paper hanging from a dispenser as you walk in. You’re in trouble if you forgot to get some before you’re doing your business. Also you can’t flush toilet paper down the toilet. Instead there is a waste bin (with no lid) in the cubicle. You dispose of your used toilet paper and anything else you might use or discard in this bin. The toilets are a bit whiffy as a result and there is often incense burning to make it a little more fragrant.
The Chinese have a lovely habit of hocking up their vile phlegm and spitting it in the street. It appears that this is not frowned upon and is quite natural. I guess the Chinese would not be out of place on a men’s football pitch then!
The sewers in Beijing smell rancid, often of rotten cabbage or something along those lines. Walking through the streets you often get a pungent odour waft past and this has made me retch a good few times.
I have come to the conclusion that I should have left my English manners at home, so from now on it’s when you’re in Rome...... I will now forget the etiquette I was brought up with and be impatient and discourteous at all times. If I don’t I will be trodden over and that is not happening! We’ll see if I need to maintain it for the rest of our stay in China.
Oh I have also learnt one thing about me and James. Don’t let him go off to the shops on his own to get a snack in a non-English speaking country – he came back with cucumber flavoured crisps. Mmmmmmmmmm.
Apart from the bad points it’s a pretty clean city. There are always people clearing up rubbish and leaves in the street and in other public places such as the waiting rooms in the train station there is always someone clearing up everyone’s mess. It is however very smoggy. One night it was very foggy but the fog was dirty and dusty. Maybe all the government messages we have been getting to use less energy to make the world cleaner and to reduce our carbon footprint should be aimed here first.
I don’t mean to be so negative about Beijing. It does have a lot to offer and we have enjoyed our time here. There are just quite a few things that I haven’t liked and I don’t think it’s a city I would visit again.