Saturday, January 26, 2008

First night in China

It was my first night in Beijing, China. After clearing customs and immigration, and making a stop at the toilet and ATM, I caught a taxi. The man, (rather a kid!) had a big smile and spoke NO English. Since I was getting in so late, I had previously made reservations at a Super 8 so I had a place to stay that night. I showed the taxi driver the address and he had to call his friends for directions!
As we drove around, the most interesting thing to me was that I couldn't read the signs!!!! Some had English, but for those that didn't, I felt like I was three-years-old again and wishing I could read! We drove and drove and drove. When we got to the area of the hotel, we drove through these skinny alleys w/ bikes and rickshaws lined up along the walls. We drove in and out of them, and in and out of the next one. Clearly,we were lost, he could NOT find the place. We would stop now and then to ask a passerby for directions. Each time, it was clear that nobody knew where this place was.
It was a scene out of a movie... It seemed as though nothing had been touched in hundreds of years and everything was covered w/ about a half an inch of dust. What I realized is that it was SNOW! and b/c of the pollution, it has a grayish hue to it. Strange... (btw, it IS totally Brrrfreezing!). The only reason I knew we were not in a ghost town were the occasional little snackshops and barbershops open (who gets their hair cut at 10:00 p.m.!?) I started to wonder what was going to happen; if we couldn't find the hotel, did it even exist or was it one of those internet scams? Also, how on the planet would I tell him to take me to another one!!!
As I was contemplating my situation, a BIG YELLOW 8 appeared around a corner! A-ha! There it is! We both cheered out loud in our own languages. :) The 45-minute adventure came to a total of about 20 bucks (US) and I said goodbye to my little cab driver friend. I wonder if he was able to find his way home...
Next stop: Checking in at the hotel.Lucky for me, one of the gals spoke English. Also lucky for me, my reservation went through so they had me in the system. It was 180RMB, which is about $23. It is required to show your passport for checking in and to put down a 100RMB deposit. Then I went up to my room. At first I couldn't figure out how to turn on the lights. Then I saw that you had to put your key in the wall to get power! My room was SMALL! All it had space for was the bed. And it was warm in the room, thank goodness. That was all I needed.
The only problem was that the walls were absolutely paper-thin. I could hear everything the guy on my right was saying to his friend on the phone in Chinese, and there was couple on the left and, well, that's the same in any language... I had to roll my eyes, and hope that both parties would go to bed soon, as it was nearing midnight. Once I got settled in and went to bed, all was quiet... at least for a little while.
I was sleeping peacefully. I was warm and comfortable and thoroughly tired. I was dreaming a happy dream. Suddenly, I was awakened by the most dreadful sound - the man to the right was SNORING.... Now, if someone is snoring in my ear, usually it's my own fault, since I've fallen asleep in the same room as the snorer. It's not supposed to happen when you're sleeping in the NEXT ROOM. It was like he was lying right next to me!!! I got up and read a little while, each minute ticking by I'd get a bit more frustrated! Then, I remembered something that SAVED me! I switched on my new MP3 player, turned on Enya and turned up the volume and went back into my la la sleepyland. It did help, although I could still hear him in the background! My only hope now was that he would wake up early so I could sleep.
He did wake up fairly early. However, he was not quiet. Every few minutes for the next two hours, he would clear his nose and throat and spit. It was ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING. ICK. Needless to say, sleep was not an opion anymore! I got up, packed up my stuff, showered, and went to check out. As I was leaving my room, who comes out at the same time but Mr. SNORESPITTER himself.
I couldn't help but laugh, all the way down the hallway, in the elevator and through the lobby. When I went to check out, the gal asked, "Will you be staying another night?" I looked over at Mr. Snorespitter standing in market across the way buying a drink. "No. No I don't think I will," I said. I collected my deposit, grabbed my bags, and walked away, very grateful that my first night in China was over!


Blogger Jen Lee said...

I am so glad that you found our hotel safe~ what a strange feeling to be lost in a place where you cannot communicate with anyone. I hope you got more sleep the next night~ wherever you were.

6:59 PM  

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