A Travellerspoint blog

Family Dinner and Sightseeing...

Saturday my family wanted to take us all out for lunch for the last time and go for a drive after lunch to see some of Beijing. Vik was at my house so again we spent our last Saturday morning in Beijing sightseeing from my bedroom window cross stitching!! Had a nice lunch with the family then Rosie came over and we watched a movie. It seems as though all Asians need a midday nap no matter what their age and Wade has said to me about 2000 times since I’ve been here that he is a vary hard working business man but he is a very old man (40 I think) so probably 6 days out of 7 he’s home when I get home from the kinder for lunch and he has about a 2 hour sleep! So after lunch we thought we were going out but wade insisting he is old went and had a sleep. Then when they woke up Jessica came and said it was too hot outside to leave the house…so we ended up going out for dinner before seeing anything. We went with Lou Lou and her parents the family that cam to Chengde with us. We drove past a restaurant on the way right near our house that I love and I’ve been with Jessica and I took my parents there when they came. But we drove for probably 40 minutes before pulling up to….the exact same restaurant!! Just in a different area haha, I asked if it was the same and they awkwardly said yeah but it’s just much bigger…it had an upstairs but apart from that had exactly the same menus… anyway the food was awesome and it was a good night apart from the 2 girls being absolute brats running round licking spoons on other tables and annoying guests but nothing got done about it rather the parents just laugh and pretend they don’t belong to them…earlier Wade had asked what was left in Beijing we wanted to see and we said we think we’d basically seen everything we want to, he replied no no no there are many good things to see in Beijing so after dinner we went to the Olympic stadium at night (which they took me too on the second night here and when my parents were here….) haha but it was nice to walk around and Jessica took my camera and took about 100 photo’s of blurry girls but got some nice ones too. Then they dropped me off with the girls at Vikki’s and I slept there the night because I was spending Sunday with Vik’s family at Crab Island.

Posted by Lhillhouse 00:37 Comments (0)

Booking Our Trip, Suzie Wong’s Second Attempt and Vic’s

Travelling in China is great because basically trains go to every possible location. The downside is that because there is such a huge population the tickets only go on sale 10 days before departure. Also the stupid part to it is there is no way to book the tickets online. You can book them on the phone and they get delivered to you but when we tried to get our first ticket last Tuesday we were told they didn’t deliver to where we were… It’s also University holidays the time we are planning on traveling so the trains book out really quickly. We had no choice but to wait to the Wednesday morning and I sent the maid with the money to the local ticket office and luckily she was able to get 3 hard sleeper beds from Beijing to Tianshui this Friday at 1:43pm!!! We were so excited now that we knew we’d actually be leaving Beijing in 9 days! The next ticket we needed was to Chengdu and opened Thursday. The tickets went on sale at 7pm but the ticket booth closed at 7:30 and I didn’t have enough time. We thought we’d be fine to do it Friday morning as I would just walk down as soon as it opened. Wrong… I went by myself and had no phone (because I left it in a taxi last Wednesday night after dinner with the girls! I had a great chat with the driver in Chinese and he was nice as so I called my number straight away but he didn’t answer or bring it back haha…I wasn’t too bothered though because I had to leave it here anyway when I left as out of the greater Beijing area all our phones loose coverage for some stupid reason…) Anyway I got to the window and showed her the bit of paper that Jessica had written all the info down on. She didn’t even search on her computer before telling me “mayo” which means “don’t have”….I kept trying to tell her I’d seen them on the computer and to at least look but she must of got out of the wrong side of her wooden bed because she gave me nothing. Back home Jessica thought it might be because the local offices only selling tickets leaving Beijing rather the already being sold out after only one night. I was meant to be going to the Police museum today with the girls but we decided to meet at Beijing Railway station instead to try to get the tickets from a major station. I thought Vik said meet at 11 and she thought she said 12 so because I had no phone I turned up to the station 1 hour early and had to sit sweating out of my brain on a dirty step in the entrance for an hour and a half with a lady sleeping on a raincoat waiting for her husband, a guy sitting near me counting and making notes of everyone who walked in and out of the station, and annoying water sellers that couldn’t understand how I couldn’t possibly want 10 thousand bottles of water. My fantastic morning which I thought couldn’t get any better quickly proved me wrong when after half an hour of pushing though hundreds of sweaty Asians with who knows what belongings besides the kitchen sinks in all sorts of sewn up bags we were directed to the major ticket office. After standing in line for another half an hour staring down any intending pusher innerers, we showed the lady behind the desk our piece of paper. She looked as though she was searching for something and we saw the train come up but then like the other lady all we got was “mayo”….we weren’t moving out of line until we found out why so she went and got a man to take over who could speak about 3 words of English. We never found out if it was sold out but all he would say to us was that we can’t buy tickets for that train here and you would have to buy them from Tianshui once you got there if they haven’t all sold out!!!! We offered a bribe and asked for more expensive tickets or any other tickets so we wouldn’t be stuck in the tiny Tianshui village with no airport but sensing we were getting angry he pretended the glass barrier was suddenly sound proof and wouldn’t even look us in the eyes…we had no choice to leave the line as there were stacks of people behind us.
After a bit of a panic attack we decided lunch wouldn’t go astray and while munching on some KFC Vik remembered that there were three trains that left Tianshui but we only had the number of one so back we went and lined up again. I jumped in another random queue just to see what would happen and I got to the front before the girls. Without showing the paper I just said “sen ren qu Tianshui Chengdu chi yue ba tian” which I hoped translated to “3 people go Tianshui Chengdu 7 month 8 day” haha he must have understood because she looked up the trains and I could see three come up on the screen. He tried the old one first and I could see that no tickets came up. The second one had the saem result and we were starting to panic. The last train had beds available!!! We didn’t want to get our hopes up to early but after speaking to the guy in the next booth (which happened to be the first man that had turned us away!! Haha) he booked the tickets and gave us a price. It was a lot cheaper then we’d been expecting and we later realised that this is because it is a non air-conditioned train!! So I think we’ve got about 17 hours with 3 other strangers squashed in triple bunk beds in 40degree heat which we’re looking forward to…even though we caused a few stares as we couldn’t keep our relief to ourselves when we held the tickets in our hand!!
After that ordeal we couldn’t face a museum so Rosie left to get some last minute market stuff and Vik and I went back to her place. On the way the bus goes past a market where Vik bought a cross stitch of two cute little Chinese people and she said they were really cheap compared to Australia where they’re ridiculously expensive (I know I’m a nana!) But I thought it would be a good souvenir if I got a Chinese one and it will give us something to do on all our long train rides over the next 3 weeks. There were heaps there but not a great selection of chinesey ones so I opted for a new years one that I got told later has over 100 little men in it haha and I’m already sick of doing eyes and I’ve only done about 8. It’s huge but hopefully I get it done in the next 10 years!! IMG_6281.jpg
So our last Friday ever in Beijing was spent sitting on the bed chatting about the weather and complaining when our threads knotted! Haha I guess at least it proves we’ve seen basically everything Beijing has to offer…
Rosie came over later afternoon and we got ready for a second attempt at Suzie Wong’s club clad in non-thong footwear. After a yummy dinner on the same street at a Middle Eastern place called Souk where we got a meal by mistake so didn’t have to pay for it we walked to Suzies. Something was obviously on because there was what looked like foot soldiers alternating with plants lining the sidewalk leading to the door. We walked in and were greeted with wide smiles explaining that tonight was Lisa’s birthday so the door charge would be 200RMB tonight!!!!!! Their wide smiles rotated 180 degrees after our reaction at wanting people to pay over $40 so wish whoever Lisa was a Happy Birthday!
Deciding we would be happy to pay 50RMB door charge we got a taxi to the Workers stadium which has two well known and huge clubs either side of it “Mix” and “Vics”. We chose Vic’s thinking it would be funny to see how a real club in China works and it proved to be hilarious. We got there before 10 so entry was free and after searching our bags before we were allowed in the let us through along with 4 cross stitching needles and a pair of scissors Hahaha. It was pretty fancy inside with the walls lined with private booths that we only found out were reserved for parties after we’d already sat down in one. We sat at a small square table on some not too comfy bar stools and ordered a drink by torchlight because it was so dark. The guy taking our order then pointed to the table, made some funny gesture and after a bit of confusion got across to us that just to sit at this tiny table in the corner with uncomfortable seats was 600RMB!!!! We told him he was dreaming and found that the only seats you didn’t have to pay for or reserve were the seats lining the bar so that’s where we sat for probably the next hour watching some hilarious Asians working their magic on the dance floor. It took us a while to realise but all the songs were in English even though through the night we probably only saw 20 other westerners. An underground hallway thing took you to a completey separate part of the club that looked very similar but just had a lot more room for dancing so after stepping over the cleaner mopping at 1 in the morning!! We spent the rest of the night there listening to a funny Michael Jackson tribute and dancing with a group of young Americans we found and some older and annoying Germans before we felt like going home.

Posted by Lhillhouse 00:18 Comments (0)

Wednesday Dinner to break up the Week.

Wednesday after Kinder I met Vik and Rosie at Sanlitun and I bought a spare battery and 4gig Memory card for my camera…the card that now doesn’t work and says its locked…Lucky it was cheap! Then we walked to a new restaurant that claimed to have the best Thai in Beijing called Purple Haze. And they were probably right. It was the best Thai any of us had ever had but pretty spicy and for the next few days all three of us became very familiar with the toilets so not too sure what they put in it!! IMG_6271.jpg
I also took some photos of the Kinder, where I stood in the mornings to greet all the parents with a face that had to say there wasn’t anywhere I’d rather be! And Sally in our tiny office that we share with the principal, deputy, and a few other random’s that make it impossible for personal space.IMG_6273.jpgIMG_6276.jpg
And this is the latest baby class I teach that can all hardly speak Chinese but they’re still very cute. There is a little Aussie boy here with an Australian father and Chinese mother called Oscar and he can speak English fine but still very shy.IMG_6278.jpg

Posted by Lhillhouse 07:47 Comments (0)

Taoist Temple and Belly Dancing. Saturday 20/6/09

The girls slept at mine and we had a lazy morning before heading off to find a Taoist Temple near Chaoyangmen station. IMG_6213.jpgIMG_6215.jpgIt was an absolute stinker of a day and we ended up walking about 3k’s before we actually found it but it was a great temple. It had in it the 76 departments of hell or whatever they are and each was set up like a room with the Leader and examples of people who were sent to that department (we think anyway)…IMG_6219.jpg
Some of the descriptions were hilarious for example the Egg Birth Department was captioned: “This department has the function to place those souls that did more evil deeds then good deeds into a lower rank which is an egg birth rank. It aims to warn people that should they fail to accomplish good deeds they would become low class flying birds in their next birth so that they will have to go on pecking at food to maintain their life.” I think that’d make anyone want to do good deeds haha…
The unjust death and strange illnesses had some pretty funny looking models…IMG_6220.jpg
There was also a Mr. Burns look a like with mong hands and one about the death of animals with a whole lot of knives!IMG_6234.jpgIMG_6236.jpgIMG_6242.jpgIMG_6243.jpgIMG_6245.jpg
We had lunch at subway which isn’t great at the best of times and had no where near the same amount of choices but it was OK.
Rosie went home and Vik came back to mine for an easy afternoon out of the heat before getting ready to go out again. We decided to try some Muslim food but ended up walking into the wrong place so decided just to stick with it. The menu’s can be pretty funny here like this one saying “the Pepsi of cola can” haha and “the canister of sorit can” (we think that could have been sprite??)IMG_6247.jpgIMG_6252.jpg
It happened to be in our Beijing book and said that there was Belly dancing so we got a table inside and waited for the action to start. The food was pretty nice and very cheap and a lady came out to introduce a dancer….it started off pretty average to the non-educated in the ways of dancing… got a lot better. A few people sung some interval songs and the belly dancers coaxed a few men up who looked very awkward trying to dance. Then just as we were leaving a dancer came out with a huge snake! We thought it was pretty cool until we started to feel sorry for the poor snake that was being thrown around and its neck basically squeezed off so its head couldn’t turn but the males in the audience seemed to love it.IMG_6255.jpgIMG_6262.jpgIMG_6264.jpg
We left to find a club we’d read about but the taxi driver just couldn’t find it and we got sick of watching the meter go up. We jumped out and asked for directions a few times and walked about 2k’s before we found a little shop called Jenny Lou’s. It’s amazing and I wish I’d known about it the first day I arrived! It’s full of imported western food and lollies and chocolate but the prices are astronomical for china so we couldn’t go to crazy. When we walked out we realised Suzie Wong’s the club we were looking for was right next door and we’d driven past it already! Our excitement plummeted to zero when we saw the “no thongs” sign….as all 3 of us were in thongs. Deciding to call it a night Rosie got a bus home and Vik and I walked around till we found a 758 bus that took us to my house.
Vik left pretty early Sunday morning to meet up with Rosie at the markets and I had a relaxed day doing some last minute planning for next week before heading out to meet up with Steve Cox and Kuyiu for the last Sunday before I leave. Jerry and his girlfriend were there to and we all had a good chat. Afterwards Steve Kuyiu and I went out for jowzar dinner, then Steve walked me to the Bus station and we said our last goodbyes.

Posted by Lhillhouse 04:16 Comments (0)

Tianyi Cemetery, Tibetan food and Sanlitun. Friday 19/6/09

Today I met up with Vik and Rosie at the Subway and went all the way to the end of line one the very west of Beijing city. We’d read about a cemetery of some eunuchs with tombs you could go inside. Also near there was some sort of temple we were going to take up our morning with but of it had been undergoing construction for over a year so was ‘temporarily’ closed…IMG_6178.jpg
The taxi driver took us down tiny village like streets where we felt miles away from China’s capital and into the deserted cemetery. We bought our $1.20 tickets and walked through. Just when we were in the middle of trying to spook each other out two enormous German shepherds must have heard us and started going berserk. After jumping out of my skin we saw they were in cages though one was still tall enough to look over the edge of the cage and bark death threats at us.IMG_6181.jpgIMG_6183.jpg
We got to the back of the tiny place and saw a few cement casket things which we assumed to have bodies in them but couldn’t be sure as we tried to lift the lids to no avail… Joking as we looked around that we wished there was a secret door to the actual tomb because we hadn’t found one yet we realised we were practically standing on it! A huge rusty metal sheet on the ground that we’d walked over was actually a huge lid that slid back to reveal pitch black stairs leading into who knew what. Armed with our mobile phone lights we ventured down but while Rosie and I were trying to convince Vikki (who didn’t want to leave the door unattended and risk being locked in) to come down with us we found a light switch that lit up the way to reveal two freezing, one with the robbed grave in it and a few other bits of engraved rock that obviously carried some meaning back in the day…IMG_6184.jpgIMG_6186.jpgIMG_6187.jpgIMG_6196.jpgIMG_6197.jpg
Now we knew what we were looking for, we saw another sliding lid on the way out but it was locked with a sign that said somebody’s body had been relocated to this tomb so there was actually a eunuch still down there!
After asking directions three times and getting 3 different pointing fingers we found the closed temple and made our way back to the train station. IMG_6200.jpg
Sifting through recommended restaurants in our Beijing book we opted for Tibetan which did not look at all inviting from the roadside having to clamber up a brick ledge to actually get to the door but the set out was beautiful and the food was yum too.]IMG_6201.jpg
Went back to Vikki’s and planned a few more final touches on our trip then relaxed before heading out to Sanlitun for dinner.
We planned to get to Blue Frog at Sanlitun before 8 O’clock for their happy hour and yummy frozen drinks but the bus was taking soooo long in traffic we thought we were going to miss it. Jumping off the bus we absolutely flew through flocks of fancy shmancy embassy people and rich Asians trying to find the escalators to the place. Finally raced up the stairs and rushed to the first worker we said asking puffed out of our unfit brains if it was still on. He pondered for far too long before looking at his phone and said it was 8:00 now. I pulled out my phone and it was 7:59!! We showed him but he claimed the machines already said 8 and couldn’t be changed…so disappointed we walked around for a while looking for somewhere better but unfortunately had to eat some humble pie and head back there because they are delicious and have awesome chocolate brownies and it’s a beautiful outside area.
Afterwards we walked down to the center and watched a huge suare of fountains that kids were running through (with raincoats on which we couldn’t really work out why as the water shot up…) but it was nice to look at all the different patterns and fun to try to run through when it was small. We watched a mother think it was hilarious to give her pram a huge push to try and get it to the other side between two huge walls of water. Hahaha we didn’t find it too funny until the pram went off course and rolled diagonally through all the shots of water!!!IMG_6204.jpgIMG_6206.jpgIMG_6210.jpg

Posted by Lhillhouse 04:09 Comments (0)

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