Me-go: Around-the-World

Leisurely Stroll in Beijing


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My flight from Tokyo to Beijing was uneventful. I used my last 360Y to buy a very large bag of M&Ms. ANA (All Nippon) has a camera mounted under the plane?s nose so you can see the land approaching during you descent. I?m sure I haven?t seen that on any American or European airlines. I was treated to roughly the same movie choices as my flight from LA to Tokyo. This time I watched all of *Envy* and caught the first half of the latest *Harry Potter*. Because it?s a Japanese airline the food isn?t much to my taste–even for airline food. Although I did manage to eat the rice and the Nestle Crunch bar.

Customs and baggage took about an hour and I was cleared with no weary glances. The shuttle bus to town took about an hour and dropped me off nowhere near a subway station. Once I found it, the subway was easy enough to navigate and even had Pinyin translations of the characters. The real trouble came in when I tried to get to my hostel from the station. I looked at my map, consulted my compass and glanced at the neighborhood map at the exit. I was sure I knew where I was going. The problem came in when the next street (what I would consider a street) was very far–far enough to be another subway stop. Walking between two subway stops when you?re lost is always a bad sign. That?s when I realized that my definition of a street must be different than the Chinese definition. I passed numerous alleyways that looked like bombed-out war zones but no streets. Knowing I had gone too far I backtracked and asked for directions–no one seemed to know what a map was. This process went on for hours. Finally, after walking around for 3.25 hours I found it. My backpack must weigh 500 lbs. Maybe not quite that, but after more than 30 minutes it really feels that way.

I was too tired to speak Chinese and ordered some dumplings and a beer for dinner. Beer was the only drink on the menu. My bill was 3.5Y. That?s less than 0.50 cents U.S. I think China will be okay but first I have to figure out how to get back to the main road.