Beijing: Yes, we’re here !

September 16, 2005 4 By Jakob

After a long flight with way too little space and way to little sleep we have arrived in Beijing. Of course it was very interesting for us to see if the bikes had taken the same trip as us – preferrably in one piece. At Beijing Airport we found all of our luggage including the bikes. The luggage was fine and only the protection that we had put on the bikes was damaged. Besides from a few scratches we think that the bikes are fine.

When we first got on the plane it was a bit of a dissapointment to have been given two middle seats – even in the middle row. And at below middle size… It’s quite difficult to sleep in spots like that. We flew with China Southern Airlines, and we suspect that Boeing has probably constructed this plane on special order to fit the Chinese people!

Shortly before the start we met Mikkel, the husbond of Lisbeth, one of Jakob’s former colleagues at Cisco. He was by accident located in the seat immediately behind Jakob. Very weird! Mikkel by the way also happens to be a former inhabitant of Nyborg, Denmark – like Jakob…
He was on his way to a training in Beijing, and we had a bit of a talk about how he and Lisbeth were doing, and about this and that in general.

At Beijing Airport, the taxi driver was already waiting for us at the arrival, eagerly waving a sign with our names, which made it difficult to recognize the names on the board. He recognized us because of the bikes. He took us straight to the hotel – through the mayhem which is Beijing traffic. Nobody breaks for noone here, they honk a lot and here little men with red flags, whistles and big hats are trying to control the traffic. They see of course that they are failing and limit themselves to fiercely control the pedestrian traffic…

At 14.00 local time we were check in at the Ha De Mem Hotel. Time to pack out, shower, put bikes together and then get out on the street.

We went in direction of the Tian An Men square, but instead of going to the square we chose to go for something to eat. It took us quite a while to get there as we had to get ourselves a mobile number. The mobile number was a specific challenge in that nobody here seems to speak any English. We were really finding the words from the Lonely Planet books that we had with us, and with a few hand signs and the 5 words of English that the salesman knew we finally ended up with a mobile number. We even tried to negotiate a discount…

The rest of the way towards the square we took the time to look at the life in the street. People getting their hair cut, people selling all sorts of food, which we wouldn’t even know HOW to start eating, bike repair shops on the sidewalk, and all the time these traditional Chinese lamps in between the moderne skyscrapers and commercials.

People are looking at us, and especially Jolanda wished she would have put on a pair of long trousers instead of the shorts. Apparently girls in shorts is not really normal. Can’t wait to get into the bike outfit….
Maybe we also stick out basically by looking different, taller, blonder, different colour of eyes, etc.

We managed to eat dinner with sticks this evening. We don’t really know what exactly we got, but are pretty sure that we will be better at choosing the right things in the future. This was not really the most succesful evening meal we’ve ever had.

Now we’re super tired and want to go to bed. It’s now 20.10 here in the evening, it’s dark outside and we slept three hours each last night.
We’ll see how it goes tonight. The beds are stiff as bricks, so it’ll be another new experience.