Monday, November 7, 2011

24 Hours in Beijing (or surprise!)

I'm sure this will not come as a shock to anyone, but our plane out of JFK was delayed and we missed our flight from Beijing to Bangkok.  That puts me at 0 for 3 on making international connecting flights this year.  Lauren was not faring much better with her flight- she had a three hour delay out of St. Louis which made it unlikely she was going to make her connection in Tokyo, but we don't actually know because she has gone off the grid.  I can't help but feel slightly responsible, but that's the risk you take by traveling with me lol.

So, Amanda and I made the best of our impromptu visit to China and spent the day touring Beijing & miming things to our driver who didn't speak a single word of English.

We took a quick walk through Tianaman Square to the Forbidden City.

Touristy much?

The buildings were very beautiful but I have never in my life seen so many tourist groups, all identifiable by their different we have the Burberrians.

It took some serious maneuvering to make sure these photos didn't have 40 strangers in them.

Temple of Heaven

We climbed up a bunch of steps to the "circular mound." which was little anticlimactic since once you got up to the top of the platform it was a circle in the middle about 2 inches high lol.  But it was pretty entertaining to watch a bunch of adults stand around it in a circle instead of making a line and try to time who was going to go next- very double dutch-esque.

The "echo wall" was truer to it's name.

There are a lot of rules in China.

Here, for instance, there's no: motorcycles, trumpets, taxis, sprinkling things about, dogs, picking bouquets, decimating foliage, firearms, campfires,  lounging in a provocative manner, ice skating or kickball.  Not very much fun if you ask me.

The road signs also cracked me up- my favorites included: "do not exceed weight limit" above a truck with a cartoon elephant in the back, " do not exceed height limit"- a variation on that theme that involves a giraffe, and "Do Not Litter"- depicting a cartoon man tossing a soda cup and a whole fish out his window.  However there are no photos of these because my time in the car was spent alternately trying not to throw up and having my life flash before my eyes.  Not to perpetuate a stereotype but there is some seriously terrible driving happening in Beijing.

After a quick game of charades in which we indicated to our driver that we wanted to get something to eat & then a second one in which we indicated, no we did not want to eat at the Pizza Hut that he drove us to, we ended up at Quan Ju De.  This could very well be the Chinese equivalent of TGIFridays but we enjoyed it.

Duck spring rolls, bean curd with dipping sauces, and fried vegetable roll.

We stopped at the Olympic Stadium on the way back to the hotel.  A move that subsequently made us have to pack like the hotel was on fire and still miss the airport shuttle.  When we did make it to the airport, we were told that the flight we were supposed to be on was overbooked & we had been assigned to a different flight- one leaving 5 hours later with a layover in Singapore, that would make us miss the flight we had booked for Krabi and necessitate purchasing it again for the THIRD time.  Why yes, we would like to speak to the duty manager.  She put us on standby and after a pretty excruciating hour and a half wait, we surely benefitted from somebody else's missed connection and got seats 15 minutes before boarding started.  We took off on a mad dash through the airport that of course included security making Amanda take every single article out of her suitcase & confiscate her bug spray and sunscreen as I have an anxiety attack thinking they spotted her pepper spray and we are going to Chinese prison instead of the beach.  Follow that up with an airport employee in a golf cart extorting us for money to drive us to our gate, which was so far away I think Thailand might have been closer.  But we are now safely on the plane to Bangkok with only one more flight to paradise!  Let's see how many days it takes to get there and if we can locate Lauren when we do!

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