Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Back To Misty Beijing, China

So I finally made it back to China, and its been officially one week of what feels like a decade already. As I lugged around my rather bulging suitcase, about to snap off my arms in the process at the airport, I am told that my luggage is overweight. Thank god for trips to India preparing me for this kind of outcome. With a Sainsbury bag in hand, I take out 2 books- surprisingly 2kg all by itself!

The plane journey was a rather more mundane affair. Food, films, sleep, the bloated feeling you get for being a slob, yep all 14hours of it. And then came humid Beijing. 28C to be precise, I was not prepared for this kind of weather, my suitcase filled with jumpers. So as I sweated through all 3 of my layers- coat, hoodie, and t-shirt and thought 'kill me now,' I saw a familiar face at the airport and was whisked away via Beijing bus service. I did feel rather bad for the poor man lugging around my bags, thinking he could be macho enough to take it on. So I stared at him whilst his face slowly turned into a tomato...

Travelling Beijing via motorcycle is rather a different matter than SE Asia. For one, its illegal for foreigners to drive one, two; you need about 10 heads to cope with all directions of traffic, pedestrians, bicycles, dogs, cats....I was enjoying my time on it, trying very hard to repress memories of Cambodia. But alas, by the third day I managed to hit my leg pretty hard on a bollard. No bones or ligaments torn and broken, just have a bruise on my leg and ego.

Okay, the good news is- by day two, I had a flat sorted. Not bad eh? Paying what seems like I am robbing the Chinese blind, for an apartment that is pretty ideal. 10 mins walk from uni, 2 great room mates (Korean girl and Belgian guy) who are utter geniuses in Chinese and can speak English if needs be, with a room that could qualify as the size of a living room. No more abject poverty, no more sharing a bathroom with 12 people, oh yeah!!

In terms of sightseeing, I have seen my university an infinite amount of times now. Already, the thought of 6.30am wake up calls is making me shudder. Furniture shopping is pretty interesting especially with the bargaining experts. Never have I ever reached that kind of level of bartering. I managed to visit Yonghegong temple (Lama Temple) which was probably the best temple I have seen in Beijing since I have been. The Tibetan monks chanted continuously in a low drone and it was almost hypnotic. And the 18m high Sandalwood Buddha reached a Guiness World Record according to the front placard, for being carved out of a single piece of wood. Bloody amazing.

The hutongs (old Beijing alleyways) are still spectacular as always, though many are now catered for tourists as I see many non-Chinese folk armed with a Lonely Planet in one hand and in a daze in the other about to be run over by the various transports trying to fit in the narrow path. But went into a amazing art/ music cafe as well as venturing out to see the wonderful calligraphy and Chinese art stores. I am currently ecstatic to be reunited with dumplings and milk tea.

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