Ni Hau!

Asia is madness.

The sights, the sounds, the coordinated chaos. The smells of exhaust, delicious street food, and a hint of sewage. The “I can’t believe he just did that!” driving. I love this place.

Navigating the Beijing airport was a pleasant surprise. There were no questions asked, no gloved bag dumpings, no suspicous looks, no guys with AK47s…. In fact, I never even saw as much as 1 armed guard. I have concluded that it is much easier to come into Beijing than Atlanta in America…seeing that today made me wonder who the military state really is now?

I managed to figure out the buses coming out of the airport and took the 2 hour ride in heavy Beijing traffic to an area near the Qianmen square. I was feeling quite pleased with myself for only spending $3 to get into the city rather than taking an expensive taxi. I flagged down a rickshaw (a human powered tuk-tuk bicycle) and he said that he knew my hostel. I know he overcharged me, $2, but seeing that this was my first street ride in heavy traffic, I needed the excitment to wake up. Beijing is nowhere near as bad as Bangkok, pollution or traffic included, but it was still a hairy ride as we took to back alleys, sidewalks, and whatever it took to avoid the gridlock.

Things were proceeding well until a loud “POP” brought me back to my senses. I looked down, and the chain on my rusty carriage was dragging the street. This rickshaw had given its last ride. I chose this one out of a hundred possible drivers…what luck. The driver pointed me in the right direction, and off I went on foot again.

After leaving the cool 60F’s of northern England, this place is hot! Not to mention the 15KG on my back. I footed it for over an hour until sweat was cutting brown lines down my forehead. I was about to walk out into traffic to just end the misery, but before I could, I heard a perfect English “hello”. Unlike Thailand, that seems to be a rarity here. It turned out to be a university student named Jing Jing that was studying English. She knew my hostel and agreed to walk with me in exchange for English practice – a good deal for me!

Jing taught me a few words in Chinese and got me to the Leo hostel, where I paid a killer $28 for 1 night. When I come to a place like Asia, I try to book the first night in a private room so that I can unwind, do some maintenance, and have a soft landing. The hostel dorms begin tomorrow….which cost about $6 a night here. I fell into my matress, which was the equivalent of falling onto concrete, and did not wake up for 4 hours.

As I was drifting off in my musky room, I could hear the sounds of China out my window. Strange smells were coming in off the street, some nice and some not. There is literally a new world waiting for me outside – I cannot wait for tomorrow! I am home.

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3 Responses to “Ni Hau!”

  1. It sounds wonderful! Enjoy yourself and take good notes, because we want to hear all about it.

  2. I love your blog. My husband and I are headed to SE Asia, we can’t wait! Please write more, your blog keeps me laughing. Thanks!nrnrAlie

  3. “Atlanta in America…seeing that today made me wonder who the military state really is now?”

    Perhaps US airport guards carry weapons and have increased security because of 911? What a crazy idea!

    I like your blog man but dont forget you were in the military once-apon-a-time.

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