Yesterday me and Georgia had another one of those days where we took a step back from the sightseeing and wanderlust and basically sorted out our lives.
First on the agenda was collecting our train tickets. On Thursday we travel 9 hours on a bullet train to Guangzhou Nan. What I hadn’t realised is that our train departs at 7:40am but the tickets we’ve already paid for can only be picked up after 8am so we needed to go pick them up in advance.
Beijing has 2 main train stations. We needed to go to Beijing Xi (West) about 15km away from our hostel. The journey on the metro took a good 35-40 minutes but we got there eventually. Wow. Chinese train stations are crazy confusing. We just sort of stood there and looked around not knowing where to look or what to even look for! Stupidly OH SO stupidly I forgot to charge my phone before we left so I was on 19%, I scrambled to look for some Mandarin on my phone to help me, I found this; 电话订票、 网络订票取票窗口 which means where is the ticket collection window for telephone and online bookings. I showed this to maybe 6-7 people and every single person sent me in a different direction, I kid you not. An hour has passed by, my phone now on 8%, i began to panic as I needed my phone to show my reservation to the ticket clerk. I tried another sentence; 请问网络购票的取票窗口在哪? Again meaning roughly I need the find the correct window to collect a ticket. I showed it to a policeman and he pointed me in the right way. I can’t explain enough how busy this station area is with hundreds of different Windows, machines, areas all in Chinese writing.
If I were to give a couple of tips on collecting train tickets in China;
- Allow 1-2 hours to collect tickets and go through security etc, it sounds like an awful long time just to collect a ticket but the scale of your surroundings makes it 10x harder.
- Ask (unlike me) your hotel or hostel staff the best way about collecting your ticket from the desired station. They might of just said to me turn left, right, left then straight on and I would of found it much easier.
- Use the 2 sentences I have used above to help get you in the right direction, even if it’s not exactly where you need to be.
- Use China Highlights to book your train ticket, as the reservation receipt they send you is in Chinese which makes explaining your reservation number and passport details much easier!
- Oh yeah don’t forget your passport!
After that palava we again did things like
- Buy snacks for our train journey
- Send off some postcards
- Washed our clothes
- Charged all of our camera batteries etc
Yesterday evening was hilarious. Sue a ladie from Kent mentioned that she went to Tianamen Square and got ‘Tea Shop scammed’ (the same as what nearly happened to us) it turns out it was by the same people! She confirmed it by mentioning that the bloke had a lisp, the girls English was near enough perfect and the unusual clothes they were wearing. Also we actually have a picture of them as they were in the background of a picture I took of Georgia before they spotted us and again she confirmed it was the buggers. Unlike us she was a bit more naive and went to have a coffee with them. In fact she had 4 vodka shots and some peanuts. They tried to charge her £70 for that. She only had £30 and gave them that. At least she wasn’t Jesse though. Jesse is an Australian guy we’ve been chilling out with he had the same thing happen to him, 2 blokes approached him saying they wanted to practise their English (he was by himself) he said sure they went for a coffee. I think they had some beers and anyway Jesse didn’t have enough money to pay them so they said pay with your credit card ‘okay’ Jesse says, when he checked his statement online he had £300 taken! Madness. I don’t feel as stupid now.
Today feeling a little bit sluggish after drinking the night before with some Argentinian blokes we headed out to Jingshan Park. Me being a big know it all was adamant I knew the way from the Nanluogo Xiang metro stop but unfortunately we got lost for like 1 and a half hours walking around residential alleyways, Hutongs and small communities. Turns out if I listened to Georgia we would have gone the right way. Maybe I’ll listen to her next time, maybe. Oh and I forgot to say it’s 11 degrees today and it feels really warm. It feels like I’m on holiday now even though we’ve been away for 3 weeks, because it’s been cold it hadn’t quite felt like a break away. Anyway we got to Jingshan Park, winding up the dry and dusty paths leading to the top pagoda that looks out over Beijjng and the Forbidden Palace. It is quite hard to comprehend how big Beijing is. Hundreds even thousands of skyscrapers and gigantic appartment blocks can be seen on the horizon of your view, even on a smoggy day like today. It was a wonderful sight and a special place in a frantic city that I will never forget for as long as I live.