The flight from Kuala Lumpur to Tianjin, China was 6 hours, which did not sound too long, but we had to get up early to get from Chinatown in KL to the airport for our 8:00 am flight. We were not able to sleep on the plane, so we arrived in Tianjin tired. From the airport we took a taxi to the train station that has the bullet train to Beijing. George had learned how to say “train station” in Mandarin from the little phrase book, which was very helpful, since the taxi driver did not speak English. Once at the train station we were able to purchase tickets, saying “Beijing” and indicating 2 tickets. We still were not sure which of the many gates to go to, but we showed our tickets to the lady at the information counter and she pointed us in the right direction. The train is super fast, with top speeds of over 320 km/hr, and in about 30 minutes, we arrived in Beijing. From the airport we went outside to the longest taxi queue we had ever seen in our lives. We came prepared with the name and address of our hotel translated to Mandarin (thanks to Pan), but the taxi driver still was not familiar with the area and had to stop a couple times to ask people where the hotel was located once we got close.
We stayed at a hotel in the old hutong (alley) area of Beijing, where we could see the traditional way of living. We arrived in the evening completely exhausted. A couple of the people who worked at the reception spoke English and we checked in and headed to the room to sleep. It was cold in our room! We had not been in the cold for 5 months, so it was a bit of a shock arriving in Beijing in early spring. We tried to sleep, but the toilet kept making a dripping noise and people were talking very loudly in the hallway. Once we finally fell asleep someone knocked on the door and I answered it to find someone with what appeared to be room service. I tried to explain that we had not ordered anything, but we could not understand each other. (We finally figured out that the yogurt and bread rolls were delivered every evening and complimentary, but I had no idea at that time.) We were groggy and miserable, but we finally drug ourselves out of bed and went in search of somewhere to eat dinner. There were restaurants along the main street, but the question was whether anyone inside would be able to understand us. We found a Thai place with the name in English and went inside, where they fortunately had a picture menu. We were able to order and eat. The food was overpriced, but we did not have much of an option at that point. By the next morning, after hardly any sleep, George woke up feeling ill. We had planned to go sightseeing with Beizhi Pan that day, but George was feeling so ill he was not sure if he wanted to join us. (Pan and I are friends from UC Davis Law School, where she was a visiting scholar working on her PhD, before returning home to China.) George managed to drag himself out of bed and get dressed in the warmest clothes he had, and our world-wind tour of China began.
- Solid and Zero-Waste Travel Toiletries Checklist - July 29, 2019
- How to Get to Columbo Bandaranaike International Airport from Unawatuna - July 16, 2016
- A Leisurely Week in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam - January 2, 2015