Today I am writing this blog from an outhouse down Shijia Hutong in the Dongcheng District of Beijing.
Our journey to Beijing started back in the Russian capital of Moscow. We said our farewells and made our way to the airport at 6:30am. It was quite a frightening journey, it was essentially a blizzard outside, the roads covered in snow. But that wasn’t the scary part, the scary part was when our taxi driver missed the turning to the airport and had to reverse about 200 metres backwards on the motorway in Monday morning traffic.
We made it to the airport in one piece thankfully and impatiently walked through the standard security procedures before boarding our flight. The flight lasted 8 hours, but I really didn’t mind. We had red wine and coffee on queue, we had a decent meal and I got to watch some films I have been meaning to sit down to (Jurassic World and the new Misson Impossible). The only negative was that when we were flying over Mongolia I thought I was going to pass out. The turbulence was extremely uncomfy. I did however find comfort in watching a Chinese gentlemen, looking as green in the face as a cabbage being tormented by his toddler son throughout the entire flight. If ever me and Georgia felt bored we would just look at that poor mans situation and laugh to ourselves.
8 hours on and we had landed in Beijing with the local time being 02:00am (9pm Moscow, 6pm London), again after going through the usual passport and visa formalities we were picked up by a very cool guy to take us to our hostel. He kindly offered us a cigarette and a bottle of water. We declined the cigarette but jumped at the opportunity of drinking something other than red wine or coffee. We sped off into the heart of Asia in a white Suburu.
The journey from the Airport to our hostel was about 25km. We passed hundreds and hundreds of high rise apparents, skyscrapers and huge futuristic buildings. We turned into a small, traditional looking alleyway (known as a Hutong) with lanterns and celebratory decorations still showing from the Chinese New Year which finished that night.
After a solid sleep into the very early afternoon we woke up to peace, sunlight and warmth. Until the loudest chicken in the whole of China decided that it would be good to make as much as a racket as possible for fun. I have a feeling that chicken will get on my nerves, but at the same time it could be a love hate relationship.
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring our local area, most notably going to Wangfujing street. An epicentre of food; street food, chain restaurant food, BBQ, market stalls, supermarkets, restaurants. It was quite something. Every other person was eating this stick of what looked like tomatoes. It turned out to be toffee (small) apples. I had to try it for myself and understood the hype behind it, it was good, Georgia didn’t agree. We’re actually going to head back there tonight as apparently the night market is fantastic.
Being our first day in Asia, ever, it seemed like quite a lot to take in. The traffic was crazy, trying to cross a road was a challenge in itself, the different smells and noises aswell were also new and unusual. Our senses were in overload brought on by a catalyst of Chinese culture.