Cristian Livadaru's blog

... think again ...

Arrived in Beijing

Today morning we arrived in Beijing. We left the Beijing Railway Station at about 07:30 and it already had 25deg. Celsius. The first thing we noticed was the small sun, but I will come back later to this. The train ride was quite smooth, the only small problem we had was that our tickets where in different compartments, but this was solved quite fast after the lady in one compartment moved to the other one. So if you plan to go with the Z class train from Shanghai to Beijing, ask extra if you want to be in the same compartment. There are 4 beds in each compartment and they are numbered from one upwards (Compartment 1: 1,2,3,4; Compartment 2: 5,6,7,8 and so on).
OK now that we finally arrived in Beijing, it was time to get to the hotel. We had the hotel name and the address written in Chinese, so nothing easier than this … wrong! The taxi driver had no idea where the hotel was and also had no map. Luckily we had the phone number of the hotel and the driver called the hotel, but … here is the next bad thing, the phone was busy and this for over half an hour where we went in circles. Anyway, we finally got there, to the Beijing Yandu Jinjie Hotel, well actually this is not quite true, I forgot a small part. The taxi driver told us he can not enter that part of the street but we can walk there. So of we went, with the quite heavy backpack (Laptop, Camcorder and 2 Digicams in it, batteries and all that stuff.) and the not so easy suitcase, lucky me that it has at least wheels. So of we went looking for number 241 … or a sign saying something with hotel. We arrived at the end of the street, took us about 15 minutes for this walk, and still no hotel. We asked someone and he pointed in the opposite direction, so once again a 15 minute walk in the other direction and now, finally we really found the hotel. There is absolutely no sign saying there is a hotel, at least not on the outside, only in the inside of the hotel, how useful.
We checked in, it took some time, a whole lot of stupid paperwork, fiddling around with my Austrian passport to find out from which country it is since it’s written in German on it (Austria=Österreich in German) and then asking some stupid question about the visa, no idea what they wanted. We arrived in our wonderful room (I am ironic!), it has a window … that opens to the corridor of the hotel, yes, a window that opens inside the hotel. No way to get any fresh air in the room, but probably this is not really a bad thing in Beijing. Anyway you can not expect much for about 18 Euros a night. Although I must say this is one of the worst hotels I have ever been in. So if you are willing to spend a bit more, you should search for a better hotel although I can’t really say how the other hotels are.
Of we went with the heavy backpack towards the Forbidden City, we walked a bit, since it wasn’t that far away from the hotel, this is probably the best thing about the hotel. On the way there there where some people asking in English where we are from and also a girl that chatted with us a bit to train her English. We then finally arrived at the Forbidden city (look for Palace museum on the map! Our map showed no sign of the Forbidden city) It was 60 RMB entrance (aprox 6 Euro) and 40 RMB for the electronic tour guide, we took two guides, one in Romanian, yes they really have that, and one in English. Well I won’t start telling stories about the forbidden city, there is much more accurate information about it on the internet. A thing that really surprised me was that there was a Starbucks in the forbidden city, well it was not signed as “Starbucks”, the indicators showed only “Coffee Bar” but they served in Starbucks cups and where wearing Starbucks outfit.
After several hours and many photos we decided to go back. Now we really realized how bad the pollution in Beijing is. We realized that we had no cloud on the sky, but still no sunshine! The sun is blocked by the pollution. The sun appears to be so small, much smaller then one would see a full moon in Europe! This is incredible. White socks turned gray after only a few hours. If you look straight ahead, you will not be able to see further then two KM! I really don’t want to know how my lungs look like inside.
We went one station with the Beijing Subway and arrived a mall where we stopped at a Starbucks for some coffee, I’m don’t really like Starbucks, but since Chinese don’t really drink coffee, it’s a bit hard to find some good coffee. Starbucks has got quite European prices, one coffee, two orange juice and two muffins where 78 RMB (aprox 8 Euro). Just to compare it a bit, if you go to a little restaurant in Shanghai where they make fresh noodles, and other very good dishes you could order for 10 People and still not reach this price.
We paid for 5 People, noodles, rice all kind of meats, 37 RMB, 3.7 Euro … for 5 persons and there was still enough food left because it was too much. The contrast is huge, you find very very cheap stuff here but also things with european prices. A lot of old habits, traditions and thinks about respect, but at the same time you find lack of respect, good manners and bad habits, but this is something I plan to write in a separate blog.
Time to leave this bunker called hotel and walk a bit more in the smog to kill our lungs.

Technorati Tags: beijing, china