欢迎！ 欢迎！Welcome! Welcome! A common phrase said by sales representatives at decibel 100 to prospective clients and customers. The Chinese National Holiday Week is upon us! Yes, you heard me: Week. This is time of year when Beijingers flee to neighbouring countries as their fellow countrymen flood their city and the city’s major tourist attractions. Google image search “Great Wall” and “national holiday” and it’ll show you this fascinating and (potentially) the next World Wonder called: The Great Wall of People.
To celebrate a successful month in Beijing and with the guidance of #beijinghikers, we hiked up Gubeikou, a wild portion of the Wall, where it was used to protect Ancient China from Mongol invasion from the North.
We went up steep dirt trails, wacked bushes, climbed unrestored towers, and ascended ruins where there is only the wall and insane cliffs on both sides. After a full day, we settled in at 24 Eyes Tower, the highest point, where I picked out my favourite spot to watch the sun as it says goodnight and slowly retreats behind the Wall…
If you’re interested in the specific hike I did, you can check it out on the HikingBeijing website. They’re absolutely stellar to go with.
In short, Beijing has been full of surprises – mostly good. I’ve settled into a study/work/life schedule that I’m very happy with. I’ve met great people and and am continually surprised with other adventurers who have ventured out to the great land of China. I’ve proved to myself that I’m resourceful, can figure things out (as much as I can) on my own, am not shy to ask for help from others and that I really reaaaallly enjoy living in another places. As mentioned before, it wasn’t easy to get settled in here and it still is a learning process.
It’s also still quite annoying that locals try to rip off foreigners as much as possible. I know I should be used to this having travelled extensively but the other day, I had such a kerfuffle with getting an Uber and then taking a taxi back home.
Here’s some story time:
9pm: Arrange plans to meet friend at 10:30pm in Sanlitun (which is a 10min ride by car, 20 min by bicycle, 45 min by foot). Know that I will be drinking heavily, I forgone taking the Beijing Bicycle out there.
10:30pm: Was goofing off on the internet and lost track of time. I thought I’d hail an Uber since it’ll be the first time using it in China. I knew where I was going and I mean, it’s just a short trip, right? OK, Uber is coming in 5 mins…..poifect.
10:45pm: Driver calls me and speaking very fast Mandarin. I’m assuming he’s asking me where I was. I’m telling him where I am with my best (very broken) Mandarin. I look at pin, the pin placed me in a different place. Fuck. I tell him that the pin is at the wrong place. He doesn’t understand. I cancel the Uber. 8 Yuan cancellation charge.
10:46pm: Order another Uber and specifically placed it on a main intersection that I walk to. I selected an Uber pool since I live in Dongzhimen (popular tourist area) where many people go to Sanlitun.
11:15pm: I watch the Uber drive from Sanlitun to my neighbourhood…. and then past my neighbourhood… I’m standing at the corner scratching my head thinking.. what the actual F… look closer, OH. Uber Pool. No body else has asked him for a ride from the area so he hasnt picked me up yet. Cancel Uber. 8 Yuan cancellation charge.
11:16pm: Order 3rd and final proper Uber making sure I’m in a better location (and walk another 500m) and that it’s only for myself. He’s 5 minutes away. Perfect.
11:21pm: Uber driver calls me. My Mandarin skills are failing me. He’s speaking with a heavy accent and I’m only assuming he cannot find me. I run across the street to this street vendor with guests sitting on children’s plastic chairs. I ask a girl for help! She speaks to him and tells him my location. He said he doesn’t know it. He’ll figure it out.
11:40pm: He calls again and I give my phone for her to answer. He says he’s here but I don’t see him…She said he’s on the other side of the subway station (~200-300m walk). Mother fuck.
12:10am: We drive to Sanlitun, he takes a turn and we get lost. This was supposed to be a 10 min ride max. It’s been 30 mins of driving (with his stupid map system on his phone).
12:15am: Get to 京 A brewery in Salitun. Jay arrives shortly afterwards.
12:15am – 3:15am: Heavy drinking, foggy memories, laughter
3:15 – 3:30amam: We hail a taxi. Jay lives in Sanlitun so his place is near by. It’s 20 Yuan to get to his place. He hands me a 20 bill and the cabbie takes me to my place. He drops me off at the proper place. The total was 42 Yuan. I hand him a 50, he inspects the 50 looks at it and hands it back to me and says it’s too old and asks for another one. I give him exact 42 Yuan change. He inspects my 20 Yuan and says it’s too old. Im like, in my head – WTF. Yo, this is a scam. I’ve heard of shady mofos like you. Inspecting the money but actually swap it back out and give you a fake as many times as possible.
Plus, there is no such thing as a fake 20 bill. There are only fake 50 and 100 bills.
Upon listening to my Wechat voice message I sent Jay at 3:30am, I said that the guy tried to scam me with the 50 bill and asking me for more another 50 if I had one. Jay responds, “yeah the taxis prowling at 3 am are all dirt bags. The ride should have only been 20 Yuan from Sanlitun to Dongzhimen but my ride was double. The meter was rigged and he also handed me back a fake 50.”
I found out he handed a fake 50 since I tried to use it at a cafe and they put it through a machine which can tell the authenticity of the currency. Fake. Double wham.
It’s just stuff like that, that really really annoys me. So yeah, when my friends ask if I have culture shock? – I think I’m continually in culture shock no matter what. It’s just tiring being on guard 24/8. Oh well! You live and learn. Getting scammed with fake bills is such a huge problem in China and there’s someone in the Banks putting the fake bills amongst the real ones. Messed, right?
Otherwise, it’s been swell and Mandarin has been so much better now that Jojo and I know how each other works. Oh! An update on my key situation – where my original key was giving me problems and I would be locked out of the gate every single day, I copied Jieyun’s key. She was locked out one day when I was out.. I felt so bad and she had to bother the neighbours… after I bothered the neighbours all gd week. They weren’t too happy with her… Oops. Honestly, every day, where I am able to enter through that gated fence, is a good day. I still get a little anxious when I get home and confront the door… and breathe a sigh of relief once I hear that *click*