As I arrive for a second time short of one year again in Beijing I got that same unbearable feeling, questioning why I’d come here. The trains rammed to capacity and the 38C humid heat combined with a mind-blowing foul food smell was enough to send the average newcomer right back home. It was only again when I dumped my bag at the hostel and took to the streets going into every food stall, market shop and alleyway, that I remembered why China meant so much to me. The culture continues to surprise me. Everything is so lively and it really is a city that never sleeps.
The flight there was fairly eventful as a standard for me. The first part from Manchester to Dubai had an endless stream of turbulence which made it barely impossible for the waitresses to serve food, for me to eat it and sleep. The second flight from Dubai to Beijing was decent apart from the fact that I already managed to eat something dodgy which forced me to spend the majority of the flight in the lavatory. The last 45 minutes of landing was torture for me when we had to stay in the seat!
When I finally arrived I was hoping to make a quick pass through security and get to the hostel, but then I remembered where I was! Beijing airport immigration. It has “queues” the length of skyscrapers, literally. To get through took around 2 hours and I had to force myself from trying to fall asleep. Something interesting I worked out when standing in the queue was that nearly every single person took EXACTLY 40 seconds to get through which I thought was a bit odd, since you’d expect every person to have different circumstances and so should take a different amount of time. I later realised that it must be some sort of “traffic management technique” since straight after immigration everyone must take a train which was already filled to the brim. If they let people through any quicker the station would overflow!
As I’m staying a fair amount of time here I decided to go ahead and buy a rechargeable subway card. The cost was approx £5 which would give around 25 rides!
You should have seen the smile on my face when I walked into the hostel. I came to the counter and I must have been smiling so much since the guy behind reception asked me what was so funny. I was genuinely so happy right then to get to my favourite hostel in the world and go to sleep. It’s exactly how I remember it apart from 1 or 2 different staff.
At the moment I’m just enjoying a healthy portion of dumplings and cold water. I’ve managed to sleep pretty much 15 hours straight and so I am raring to go and do something. I think I’m just going to take it easy for the day however and wait for dinner time before I’ll go get some decent food. It’s 34C and I’m totally loving soaking up the sun in my vest top and shorts.