(From our trip in April 2018)
This morning we were to go to the Xian train station and board our fast train to Beijing. I had bought our tickets online but there was no “print at home” option unfortunately so the tickets had to be collected from a specific counter at the train station. The intructions were a little confusing and I was a little concerned about how this process would go given our limited Chinese. I mentioned this to our tour guide Bryan Bai yesterday who we had booked our private driver with. Bryan organised for the driver to arrive early so that he could park at the station and come in and help us collect the tickets. When we walked into the station all I could see was chaos. The ticketing counters were packed with what can only be described as organised mayhem. It was impossible to know which line to go into for pre purchased tickets since there didn’t appear to be any sort of “lining up, waiting your turn” type system. For a rule follower like me this was an anxiety producing scene. Thank goodness for the driver – he just pushed and shoved his way to the front of a counter with a “just hand me the tickets and noone get’s hurt” attitude! Forget Superman, Batman and Thor….this guy was my super hero. Without his help we literally would not have been able to collect the tickets so I’m super duper grateful.
This train station was so ENORMOUS. And the security was pretty intense. Not quite “excuse me ma’am, can I search your dark lair for a gun” but a shit ton of security for a train station.
Finally we were on the lovely new fast train. Check out this leg room and how clean the train is….love it!
Of course when you are on a 4 hour train trip and you have a bladder the size of a *insert the smallest liquid holding vessel here* then it is inevitable you’ll need to take a whizz. I was praying for western toilets but alas I was not to be so fortunate.
This is my face as I enter said toilet
This my friends, is the toilet
Okay so imagine this scenario:- you are on a fast train doing 300kms an hour. The ride seems smooth enough when you are sitting in your comfy chair but when you are standing over a big whooshy windy hole with your hoo-ha out, you can feel every little rock of the carriage. At this point I’m wondering if I’m going to survive this. Remember I’m only 14 days old in “squat toilet years” so still a novice.
I needn’t have worried – my thighs of
chub steel came through for me and not a drop was spilt. Pats self on back, awards self with booze (jokes….sorta). I take it my bloody medal is in the mail for this awesome feat of pee performance! And thank goodness the poo gods are still on my side and I haven’t been faced with the challenge of all stinky challenges as yet. Let’s hope my luck holds.
When we arrived in Beijing we had another private driver booked to pick us up. We are being so EXTRA on this trip with our chauffeur situ but we deserve all the fancy things right. Actually to be perfectly honest it’s more that Beijing has a population of 21.5 million (so not much less than Australia, but in 1 city) and we just wanted to be met and smoothly transitioned through this enormous city painlessly.
Well this driver guy had less english than we had chinese and was ALOT intense – yelling at people on the road, spitting (and sometimes it even made it out the window),
sexting texting while driving and chatting on the phone aggressively. Not gonna lie, I was happy to arrive at the hotel…..ALIVE and dry!
We were staying at Sunworld Hotel Wangfujing. Such an incredible location – 2 mins from one of the best subway lines for getting around the city and 5 minutes walk to the main shopping street. We really couldn’t have been in a better spot. The hotel wasn’t quite The Hilton but really for the price, quality of the room, the breakfast and LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION it was excellent. Did I mention location and price!!!
I felt like I could detect a faint odour of smoke in our room so I mentioned it to husband because he has a super sensitive nose but he said he couldn’t smell anything so I left it. In China you have to be so careful with cigarette smoke smells in the rooms as they aren’t quite as strict on that stuff as here in Australia. (by the next day husband could also smell the smoke but I was too lazy to ask to move to another room by then). The room was really nice though. Fact:- it’s been great having the 2 beds in the rooms. A big upside to son cancelling on us last minute.
After dumping our bags it was off for THE BEST DUCK PANCAKES!!!
Background – we love duck pancakes and I’d be embarrassed to tell you how many times our family has gone to the amazing Portia’s in Kingston to have them. Whenever there is an occasion in the family we go here because we all love the food. We order the same dishes every.single.time and always leave stuffed and haphaphappy!!! (if you are in Canberra and haven’t been there, run don’t walk – you will thank me).
So given we are big fans of good duck pancakes and duck in general it was important to find a really amazing duck place in Beijing. I would be embarrassed to say how many hours of my time was spent researching where to go but eventually I settled on Siji Minfu which as luck would have it was within walking distance and had incredible reviews #winning. I had read that you can’t make a reservation here and wait times could be brutal so I decided to go early at 5.30pm and fully prepped husband – the man who is a liner-upperer-hater of old. But for duck the guy would sell his soul so he was ready.
The waiting area was soooo crowded. I was a bit worried about how this was all going to go down. They give you a little ticket thing when you arrive and you scramble to find somewhere to settle in for the wait. The chairs are so friggin tiny – the Chinese are a small people I get it – but one of my cheeks could barely fit on the tiny stools provided. I kind of wanted to grab another stool to handle cheek no.2 but felt kicking the 106 yr old lady next to me off her chair lacked a little ass class.
The big problemo was the ticket was all in Chinese so I had zero idea how we were gonna know when we got called. But we needn’t have worried because the NASTY DRAGON DOOR BITCH was giving zero fuqs about us tourists fullstop. You see, what I did not understand was Sunday’s are family day in China. Extended family’s gather and go out for food. This provided several observations for my laser sharp eyeballs – we were ‘the only’ westerners in the place and the restaurant was overflowing with locals. So it’s a real feather in the cap of the restaurant to get the seal of approval of locals and I was feeling super spesh-tastic that I, a mere westerner, had used my incredible google skillz to find this little gem. Well maybe 1 or 2 other westerners found it but not many ha.
But I was starting to worry about how we were actually going to cross the threshold into the inner sanctum of well….FOOD. Attila the Hun kept calling stuff out in Chinese and people were getting up and being ushered to tables. None of the “calling outness” sounded familiar to me when I looked at my ticket but who was I kidding – it could’ve been written in Martian – I wasn’t gonna work it out. So every now and then I popped up and put my cutest little sing songy voice on, used my basic but I felt impressive Chinese and my very biggest smile (you guys know that thing’s so megawatt bright it’s like looking straight into the sun) but Dragon Bitch was having none of it. She kept saying “boo” which means no and kinda shoving me back to my one cheek seat. This went on, I swear to god for like, 30 minutes. The rule follower in me was scanning the other waiting people trying to memorise faces to make sure noone got in before me. I went up to her a few more times and she gave me the same shitty treatment. Meanwhile I’m sitting there trying not to punch her in the face – with a knife. Doesn’t she know bitches get stitches???? After the third rejection I decide I want to slap her, her parents and her grandparents. In case you are wondering, husband is just watching the whole thing unfold with glee.
As I’m about to assemble the flying monkeys and let the Wicked Bitch of the West see me get my rage on……a sweet old lady nearby (who was clearly watching my lack of poker face throughout this situation) leaned over and pointed to the ticket and said “yes yes you”.
Finally – I was starting to fade away from starvation for a minute.
So yay, food. We were always getting the duck pancakes – well derrrrrr. And watching the chef’s carve up these babies was exactly what they mean when they say “dinner and a show”.
The precisional awesomeness was incredible!!!
We also ordered shantung lamb because of course we did and pretended to be healthy by ordering this veggie situation which actually was astoundingly awesome!!! Add in 2 coronas each and the whole bill came to $65aud. Such a bargain considering it included THE.BEST.DUCK.PANCAKES.EVER!
After we filled our faces and bellies we had a quick wander along Wangijing Shopping Street before deciding to head back to the hotel. I needed to get some cash out of the ATM and husband wanted to find somewhere to buy some soft drink and a snack so we split up. The blocks in Beijing are HUGE so he suggested a “shortcut” to get back to the hotel quicker. Now after being together since dinosaurs roamed the earth I should have known not to listen to this idea. The man has zero sense of direction. My two coronas had clearly gone to my head at this point because I said “yeah that’s a great idea, I’ll meet you back at the hotel”.
It took me a while to find an ATM but eventually I grabbed the cash out and then followed the ~shortcut~ I saw husband head off in. I knew the basic direction of the hotel so start zigzagging down these back streets. The further I go, the dodgier the streets get. I did question what the hell I was doing a few times but kept pushing on. Gotta tell you guys that I was today years old when I realised basically I’m a fraidy cat and not a fierce grown ass woman (well I do have a grown ass obvs). As I got further and further into this opium den of scarydom, I realised that I was starting to look alot like the idiot you scream “don’t go down there” to, when watching a Criminal Minds episode.
Meanwhile husband has apparently realised his error and has turned back and gone down main streets. It’s also dawned on him that he’s sent me down a path that could potentially lead to my death so is texting ABORT ABORT and calling me like crazy – and of course my phone was on silent in the botton of my bag.
Just as my fears were hitting a quarter past FREAKING OUT I burst out of the final alley into the street our hotel was on. Whew, I’m alive. I wasn’t really scared. I was just, you know, being dramatic for effect.
So I arrived back to the hotel room to a very cranky husband. He’s annoyed about the whole phone on silent thing and is having a Nervy B. Ummmm WTF?
Did he just…? I think he did….Oh hell no!!!
Mate – you are the one who royally forked up. Don’t even try me with the silent phone thing. Sometimes it falls to me to make sure the man in my life knows how stupid he is….so I did. (we could’ve gotten into a fight but I’m told the key to a successful marriage is letting things go – so I’ve started on myself)
This scene of drama died down very quickly because I’m still coughing and dying of the plague so we decided to have an early night.
So let us recap the day shall we….nothing really happened but I managed to write a book about it. You’re welcome!!!
Stay tuned because tomorrow will be great – Great Wall great!!!