So, I made it back safe (but maybe not so sound?) from China. Actally, I got back awhile ago, but I've just been so incredibly busy with important stuff like eating my own weight in M&M's and drinking gallons of Maxim iced coffee a day to do much blogging. But, I'll try to get caught up because I have China stories and Korea stories and all kinds of life stories to tell you guys, and I'm starting to get emails from friends and random blog readers alike wondering if I'm still alive (I am) and if I've decided to stop blogging forever (I haven't).
And so, since I know you've been losing sleep waiting for it, here is the official report of my first day of China. I will warn you now that there's a very good chance that any word of Chinese origin is more than likely going to be spelled wrong.
My flight to Beijing was pretty uneventful. It only takes about 2 hours or so from Seoul, so I boarded, took a nap, and woke up in China. And, then I nearly got quarantined. They were screening all passengers for Swine flu, and someone must have told them I have a Mexican boyfriend or something because they really screened me. First, people wearing what looked like full hazmat suits boarded the plane and pointed a thing that looked a bit like a laser gun at my forehead. I failed. So they did it again. And again. I always get a runny nose on flights because of the shitty air and freezing cold temps, so there I was, the only foreigner, with a runny nose and a panicky hazmat lady. Everyone else was getting the gun treatment, too, but they were getting it once. My anxiety level was definitely rising, let me tell you. Then, another hazmat dude came over and pointed his gun at my head, they whispered to each other, and he disappeared to the back to the plane. And of course by now everybody on the plane had assumed that the only non-asian on the jet had just infected them all with her nasty foreigner germs, and they were not being kind. Yikes! Finally, as I was beginning to wonder if I did indeed actually have the virus, I said, "AM I OK?!?" And Ms. China Hazmat 2009 looked at me all surprised, the way I would look at my goldfish if it started speaking out loud, and said, "Oh, yes. You're fine." And then she walked away. WTF?!? I was screened and questioned twice more before I was allowed to head to customs! Sheesh!!!!!!
I made it out of customs, exchanged some money, and hopped a bus to Xi Dan, which was as close as I could get to my hostel by bus from the airport. Once I got to the stop in Xi Dan I began walking in what I hoped was the right direction to my hostel. For what may be the only time in my life, I actually didn't get lost. It was probably a few miles of walking in the rain to get to my hostel, but I was walking in China so who cares?!?
Here's a few pics of the hostel I stayed at, which was amazing and awesome and clean and friendly and had a great staff who never ran out of patience, all for about 11 bucks a night.
After checking in, I ditched my stuff and changed into my running clothes and went for a nice long run. I ran through the Forbidden City, which was amazing, and Tianneman Square, which was a bit boring but since I know the historical significance of the place it still felt pretty cool. Since I was running I only had Rockzilla and not Ms. Carrie D. Camera, so I have no pictures of the City or the Square. I'm a bit bummed about that, but I guess now I have a reason to go back!
After my run it took me about 5 minutes to meet the dude in the picture above. Yohance. He's an English teacher in Seoul, too, and he was super cool. We went with yet another English teacher we met to the night market for some food. Everything was gross, and everything was on sticks. Here's a bit of the weirdness:Snakes on sticks, roaches on sticks, centipedes on sticks, penis on sticks...there wasn't much that I wanted to eat there, but this kid was thrilled:
After we ate we walked around the city and stumbled upon a market, so we wandered through there. Lots of cheap souvenirs and communist propaganda. I didn't buy anything, but it was fun walking around looking at everything.And then it was a few beers and off to sleep, since we were getting up at 5:45 the next morning for our hiking trip to The Great Wall.