Friday, July 24, 2009

When It Rains in Beijing

This day has been filled with crazy and fun adventures. So we arrived in Beijing by bus at about 4:00 a.m. and we took some taxis back to the hotel. Unfortunately, we couldn’t check into our hotel until 9:00 a.m. so we just sat around and we all wished we could get into our rooms to take a shower (it had been about 3 days since our last shower). Luckily, I remembered that some of us had left our luggage at the bus station and since the buses in China don’t drop you off at the bus stations, we had to go back to the bus station to pick up our luggage. So Tracey, Robin, Lauren Kosasa, and I volunteered to go get the luggage while the rest of the team checked into the hotel. That’s when the adventure started.

It was raining as we started our trek to the subway so we knew that the subways would be packed. The subway was decently busy but it wasn’t till we got to the main line that we saw how busy it actually was. There were several lines forming to just get onto the subway itself. Right after we were let into the line, they blocked other passengers to enter the area until traffic had let up. When the subway did come, it was already packed and only a few people actually got onto the subway. Then people on the inside and outside used their hands to physically shut the doors of the subway. After about three or four more subways we finally were able to squeeze ourselves onto the subway. Then the inevitable happened and the subway stopped between two stations. I was already sweating like a pig and the guys around were definitely violating my no-no squares. After about a couple of minutes it started again but then stopped again. We finally reached the next station but we still had four more stations to go. After more unexpected stops along the line, we decided to get off the subway and to just take a taxi to the bus station even if it was more expensive.

When we got outside, it was pouring rain and almost everybody had an umbrella except us. We didn’t need them because we were Seattlites, right? We found a street with tons of taxis and try to flag one down. However, almost every taxi either said they were off duty or picked up other passengers. I was quickly discouraged and slightly frustrated that we couldn’t get a taxi to pick us up. Soon, all I could do was laugh at myself and our little group as we were soaking wet and couldn’t even get taxis to pick us up. That was when I realized the reason we couldn’t get a taxi was because we were soaking and that we would make the taxi wet. As soon as we realized this, an unsuspecting taxi pulled around the corner and I just jumped into the front seat. I honestly don’t think he realized how wet I was or how wet our group was. He just asked where we were going and started driving on his merry little way. I was looking out the window when I felt a hand rubbing my shoulder and then I saw the driver squeezing my shirt. Then he started yelling at our translator to get out because we were getting his taxi wet. At this point, I said we wouldn’t and he reluctantly drove us to the bus station. We got there, got our bags, and managed to use the same maneuvers to get into another taxi. However, this driver was more observant and noticed we were wet without having to grope his passengers and told us to get out. We offered him more money and he said that we had to double whatever the meter put out. I think we were just so exhausted at that point that we accepted his demands and we finally made it to the hotel with our bags.

It rained almost all day so our team stayed inside and had a lazy day instead of sightseeing or shopping. At night, the rain had stopped and Kyle and I set up an appointment for a 40 minute head massage. On our way, we saw an Australian bar and so I popped my head in and watched some cricket with the guys there. Then I just started talking with the guys there and met this one guy Matt who has been teaching kindergarten in China and went to Miami University. He stops by our alleyway quite often so I will probably see him again. Going into bars and talking with the local people is probably one of my favorite parts of the trip so far. You just meet so many interesting people and you get to hear their life stories too. Anyways, I’m getting pretty tired from that head massage I had so I am finally calling it a night.

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