For the National Holiday, I decided to go to Beijing. That’s right, I thought it would be a good idea to go to a city with a population that swells from 21 million to probably 30 million during the holiday. If you haven’t heard the Chinese phrase, “people mountain, people sea” then boy you are missing out (on nothing, because people mountain, people sea is the worst). I thought I knew what it meant, but I can’t say I truly understood until my trip to Beijing this year.
Getting off the train in Beijing, I flowed through the river of people straight into the people mountain, people sea of the metro. To be more accurate, the line to get to the line to get a ticket to get to the line to get on the metro. No, there are no typos in that sentence. I waited in a “line” about 200 people deep to get into a line about 30 people deep to get a ticket to squeeze myself onto the metro to my hostel. And I loved it.
Whaaaaaaat? That’s right, I loved it. I was in Beijing, I was on holiday, and I was meeting my friend Laine. No complaints. It was raining, the metro was crammed full of people (packed like a can of sardines? Is that a real saying? If so, it was), my backpack was heavy, but I was meeting my friend on holiday!! After a long month of figuring out how to be a teacher I could take it easy, I know how to be a traveler.
On the first night, Laine and I took it easy. We ate waffles and drank coffee, bargained for counterfeit goods at Yachow, had beers at my hostel, and met up with Laine’s roommate to go out to the clubs. Side note – upon returning to my hostel I found a Chinese guy sound asleep in my bed in the hostel dorm…a bed with my stuff on it, under it, and to which the corresponding locker was taken by me… So, at 2 am I took my pajamas from behind his sleeping head, turned on my flashlight and found my way to an only semi-disheveled looking free bed.
I spent my first full day in Beijing living it up the only way I know how, stuffing my face full of delicious food. I had another cup of honest-to-god real drip coffee, nice and black, ate a buttery croissant, and wandered some of Beijing’s famous hutongs taking pictures and searching for Mexican food. And boy, was I not let down – I had a giant burrito with (yes, real) avocado! That afternoon I met Laine and we wandered our way into Houhai for happy hour at a Rastafarian-themed rooftop bar for a beautiful blue-sky afternoon cocktail.
My third day in Beijing I spent with www.beijinghikers.com hiking the Great Wall Spur, a mountain-climb up to an unrestored, almost 100% tourist-free section of the Great Wall. It was actually magical – misty and sweaty and tough, but so worth it. It was truly a treat to feel so lonely on the Great Wall. My final day in Beijing I spent mostly bumming around, reading in cafes, drinking coffee, and chatting with people in my hostel. That evening I met up with Laine again for the Purple Toad Festival at Dusk Dawn Club where we relaxed and enjoyed some (actually good) Chinese beers and live music. A perfect end to my holiday, I returned home to the Shiz the following afternoon