Another China moment, this one to celebrate The Year of the Dragon, in Beijing, which seemed like the mother-load of New Year’s experiences. Traveling on New Year Day always is a great time to go a wandering. Going early is another one of those things to do on a national/cultural day. Of course the fact that it is the cheapest time to fly helps, it also means more souvenir money once at journey’s end. What we had not planned on was the celebration of New Year and other various factors. Our 7 AM flight meant being at the airport at about 5.30 and we live an hour away so of course what could go wrong with getting up at four? The fact that fireworks, and not just those sparklers we see in the skies on the Fourth of July in the States or on New Year Day and Australian Day (by the way happy Australian Day) in Australia but large explosions that go steadily from late afternoon until midnight kept us awake until midnight here in our area from Kaifaqu to Jinshitan.
Four hours later Jack (our amazing driver) was whisking us off to Dalian International Airport. There are flights to Korea and Japan and Russia because it is all so close. A lot like the Albany International Airport, Albany, New York, calls itself international because they make the long haul flight up to Montreal – a three hour car drive, though in another country, away. Getting to the airport at 5.30 AM is normally not such a big thing, especially at an International Airport. But it was closed. It was minus 15 C and we had to wait outside for half an hour – not fun. When we finally got our sorry asses inside the cold international terminal we realized we had to wait longer as no one was at the gate until half an hour before the flight. We got to Beijing knackered to say the least. But it all came good when we got to Michaels House, a very cozy and homey bed and breakfast that is list as number five out of 3,600 hotels in Beijing. It is rated four and a half stars and I would agree. We started off with a great breakfast then a nap on a very soft bed which in China is difficult to find. Michaels is at No.1, S.Yard, Zhiqiang Garden N., XiaoXiTian, Hai Dian, 100088 Beijing
We spent the new few days dodging firecrackers, and other incendiary devices and walking. Lots of walking in very cold weather, loving every moment. When our skin started freezing up we got on buses and rode. One time we ended up at a large train station on the opposite side of town, another ride ended at the original city wall. We did not have a lot of criteria for buses, just that it had empty seats. Though I wanted the double decker bus but it was so full we could not squeeze to the top. Where it was going did not matter. We use to do the same in NYC – get a train out to Jersey to where some town looked interesting. Come to think of it that is what we do in every city we visit. In the past decade plus we have never taken a tour; we just get really really lost then somehow get back home. We watched fireworks from a 22nd floor; a fellow teacher was visiting her niece so we got to see the high end of Beijing living.
Now we want to move to Beijing – but for the next couple of years we will be happy here in Golden Pebble Beach. We shopped on Pearl Market where the extremely aggressive folks try to sell every knock-off possible, I ended up buying fridge magnets because we have just too much anyway and a Samsonite bag for about $30 – which in the States would cost around $150 – of course as a fake I hope it lasts for a year. Overall we had a better time than five years ago when we were sick for a week in Beijing. It is an arty city with funky restaurants, a bit like Melbourne. I am exhausted so for once this is a short blog – probably tomorrow I will think of all the things I should have said and will say it then. I am excited that my son, Sacha is coming up from Melbourne for a patch in March up to the time we go to a conference in Bangkok then on to a week of holiday in warm Thailand.
Just watched this clip on youtube about China’s Ghost Cities http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbDeS_mXMnM&feature=g-all-blg&context=G218998aFAAAAAAAABAA It is so much like our area too, with hundreds 30 story plus buildings going up at an alarming rate with no one to live in them. There are even two new large cities in their starting stage that will be massive near us. What a time to live in China.