China Marathon Log 002

Thursday 12th May 2016

So much for the movies on board the plane. It turns out I slept for the whole flight!  I woke up thinking I’ll never get back to sleep being crammed between these seats, despite having the whole row to myself, then woke up and saw there were only 45 minutes remaining!  Incredible!

As soon as I got through passport control, I messaged my friend Erik to see what his location was.  He said he was going to meet me at the airport but I didn’t remember him telling me he had left Australia.  Hmmmmm…..  I text him to tell him I’m in China. 
He’s still in Australia.  In fact, he’s in the supermarket in Australia.  Clearly, we got our wires crossed.  He doesn’t arrive until tomorrow morning.  I have no idea where the hotel is or how to get there. My plan to not have a plan seems to be going to plan : )

I could easily get a little scared and stress out when in situations like this.  There was a 1 or 2-second panic when realising I was in China alone for 12 hours not having a clue where I was going. When faced with situations like this, I imagine I’m doing an endurance event task.  That way, everything seems do-able, less daunting and gives me hope.

Off to the public bus stop I go.  There are taxi drivers galore offering their services and I’m guessing there is a hefty price tag attached to where I want to get to, especially given the way I am looking confused at my city map.  I pay £2 for an hours ride into Beijing and get on at bus stop 2, away from all the prying taxi drivers eager for business. I’m not entirely convinced I’m on the correct bus, and sadly those who I talk to have no idea what I am saying.  My acting/charades skills obviously need brushing up.  Oh well. Let’s see what happens.

As anticipated, I do not end up near my hotel.  This isn’t too bad, except my 10kg pack is now getting progressively heavier in the hot China sun.  A nice man helps me with directions and writes down the hotel address in Chinese. He tells me it’s 10 minutes away.  45 minutes later I arrive, after weaving though the tiny streets of Beijing. I will count that as my days training.

From the outside the hotel is a plain concrete building.  No name.  No sign.  Looking completely un-hotel-like.  I knock.  A smiling Chinese woman answers and knows who I am instantly.  I walk inside into a beautiful paradise with quirky modern Chinese decor, water features, filled with flowers.

My room is gorgeous. Simple, stylish and best of all it has 2 apples. I’m hungry and at this stage I’m not feeling brave enough to venture out in search for food.

The time is 20.35. In my body it is 13.35. And after a long few days, I’m going to get an early night and attempt to get in the current time zone.

One discovery that’s shocked me today – did anyone else know this????  If so, I am feeling extremely dumb….. I fire up my laptop, try and log into Facebook and it fails. I try Google, it fails.  My emails aren’t working. That’s not a good start.  I find out that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Gmail and other sites are blocked in China.  WHAT!????  I couldn’t wait to log on and tell everyone I am here.

This is minimalism to the max.

Maybe I have it wrong, maybe it’s not blocked, but right now I can’t log on.  At first I am disappointed and frustrated, but now am feeling like it might do me some good to not get distracted.

Welcome to China LT.