Dave the Scorpion King

Trip Start Mar 08, 2011
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Trip End Jun 11, 2011


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Flag of China  ,
Saturday, March 26, 2011

One thing we noticed in China is that not all babies wear diapers.  Instead there is a slit in the back of the pants so that the kids just give the wink to their parents and bend over to take a crap wherever they happen to be at the time.  So add this to the list of things you have to dodge when walking on the streets.  We first noticed this when seeing a mom carrying her kid, and the arse was pointing right at us. 

The hard sleeper cabins in the train from Xi'an to Beijing consist of 6 beds (each side has 3 beds stacked on top of each other).  This works out perfectly for a tour group of 12 as you get 2 berths.  However, Robert is the 13th member and has to sleep with locals (comes with being the group leader).  Robert doesn't let us pick which bed we get though.  He shuffles the tickets and everyone picks a bed at random.  Both overnight trains Amy and I got in different cabins, but our groupmates were kind enough to switch with us (even to switch into a cabin with Kimberly).    On last nights' train, Kimberly managed to select an upper bed.  This was humorous to the rest of us as she has been complaining about her bad knees for the entire trip.  Amy and I devised a plan for her to switch tickets with Robert so she could have a lower bunk.  It was classic to see her face when she found out she was sharing a cabin with 5 locals.  Luckily for everyone involved, one of those locals was a student who wanted to practice English and had the patience to listen to all of Kimberly's stories.  Truly a match made in heaven.

The train got into the Beijing station at 6:30 am.  In Xi'an we had a mini bus to take us to our hotel, but this time we were to take a taxi.  Robert broke us into groups and wrote down a piece of paper (in Mandarin) the name of the hotel to give to the taxi driver.  Amy, Anna (aka Macca, which is also the nickname of McDonalds in Australia), and I were the first to get in a taxi and off we went.  I should have immediately known when the driver spent 2 minutes looking at the paper that had 5 words on it.   Thirty mins later, 4 phones calls, and one pissed off aussie cop (Macca) later we arrived at the hotel.  I had zero intention of paying the driver, but Robert told me to go ahead as Intrepid was just going to reimburse us anyway.  We were the last to arrive and had a bill that was twice most of the groups, but we got a good tour of the city.

Unfortunately, we were unable to check in at this time (now about 7:30am), so we had to leave our bags with the hotel and start our walking tour of the city (bleary eyed).  The hotel told us they had no room in the closet for all of our bags, so wanted to put a net around it to stop the 3 locals staring down our stuff.  Amy noticed that the closet was filled with a chair and the bellhops cart, so we asked if they would stop being lazy and put away our luggage.  They obliged (with plenty of room).  Robert then showed a small group of us where the laundry and internet was.  While waiting for others to get their laundry done, Amy, Adrienne (the Canadian, eh), and I saw a hole in the wall restaurant across the street.  A little hungry we walked over to check it out. I was intrigued by the site of dumpling making at the front of the restaurant, so the 3 of us took one of the three tables.  Without ordering anything, 2 kinds of dumplings were thrown our way.  They were absolutely delictable and the bill came to 9 yuan (about $1.40 US) for the 3 of us to eat (about 32 dumplings).

The group walking tour started shortly afterwards, with a trip to Imperial Park.  A huge park (which costs 2 yuan to keep out the riff raff) where people went to play/listen to music, excercise, and climb the mountain to get a view of the city.  Amy joined a morning Tai Chi class to show off what she learned in Hong Kong.  After the park, we walked down to Tiananmen Square.  An abosutely huge square (the biggest center city square in the world, able to fit 60 football fields) where there is often political demonstrations (some of which are very famous, but we are not allowed to talk about this without getting arrested).  In the square is the National China Museum (which was closed for 3 years and planned to reopen tomorrow), Chairman Mao's masoleum, and many monuments.  Across the street was a giant painting of Chairman Mao, whose eyes follow you as you walk around (it gets repainted yearly) at the entrance to the Forbidden City.

We then moved on to the Forbidden City.  This was home to the emperors for a few dynasties.  No one could enter, not even the brothers of the emperor, without his permission.  Once again, the complex was huge.  There are over 8000 rooms in the Forbidden City, but used to have 9999.5 rooms.  Despite it's size, Forbidden City felt very crowded.  We later saw on tv that China is trying restrict the amount of visitors to 80,000 a day (which they currently get double that).   And you felt it.  Never more so than when a little boy was pissing in the middle of 5 tour groups.  Some parents may frown upon this behavior, but the mother so greatly agreed that she was the one holding the little boys' dong for aim.  Not a bad life.  We toured the city for about 2 hours enjoying the concubines rooms, the dragon ladies house, and the imperial garden.  Most of the buildings look the same or so it felt like as we had not had the greatest night of sleep.

Most were getting hungry, so we tried to go back to the dumpling restaurant, but the place was packed, and the 8 of us would have dominated the place.  Instead we went to a restaurant next door that was advertising free internet.  Some in our group have not checked their email in over a week (which is a long time in this day and age), so we stopped by.  This place officially received the award for worst chinese food (sorry Panda Express, you couldnt keep the award forever).

Now around 1pm, we were able to check in to the hotel and freshen up.  We had time before the evening activity, so 8 of us met up to go to the Olympic Complex.  Trying to be smart (since we could easily take 2 taxis) we decided not to take the subway as that would take 35 minutes.  Unfortunately getting a taxi in Beijing is not that easy.  We found one taxi, but she kicked us out when we told her where we were going (in a language I dont understand she pointed in the opposite direction, meaning she didnt want to go in the opposite direction).   Thirty mins later we finally got one cab.  We assumed we would easily be able to find each other because who wants to see a couple of stadiums that were used 3 years ago.  There were thousands of people there (which was due to the World Diving Championships going on at the Cube).  So we never got to meet up with the group in the other taxi.  But the complex was amazing.  We saw the Bird's Nest, the Cube (where Michael Phelp's dominated), and the Olympic mascots walking around (at one point they had their masks off while smoking).

After walking around we went back to the hotel (via the subway) just in time to get the bus to the Kung Fu show.  The show was included in our tour, and everyone was very excited to see the demonstrations.  However, the show started and it turned into a musical (the actors were lip synching since the music was in English and my guess is they didnt know any).  There were still some cool stunts, but the show lasted about 30 minutes too long. It was an interesting introduction to Kung Fu and it's history though.   Once the show was over, the group was getting hungry, so Robert recommended that we all go to "snack food street."  This is the street where you will find interesting food including bugs, animal parts, and dog (don't worry Hannah (our jack russell terrier), we didn't eat any dog).  Just before hopping off the bus, Robert tells us he has to go back to the hotel to do paper work and right at that moment, Kimberly decided she was tired and wanted to go back also (where she ordered Pizza Hut and watched a movie in her room).  The rest of us enjoyed the street food as there was plenty of good food that most consider normal (like stir fry noodles and dumplings).  I decided to walk the whole strip first to make sure I wasnt missing any goodies, so I was the last to eat.  But once I started, I caught up quickly.  I started with some mystery meat on a stick and Amy had some noodles.  Then I wanted to get a little more adventurous so I got 3 scorpions on a stick.   Not that bad, it tasted similar to deep fried soft shell crab.  After trying one scorpion, I gave one to Chris and one to Adrienne for their dining pleasures.  By this time the stalls were about to close, which meant everything was on discount.  So I closed the evening with steamed buns, shrimp dumplings, and a chinese hamburger.  We then walked back to the hotel and called it a night after a very long day.
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Comments

Cliff Lee's boyfriend on

Can you please take a picture of this Kimberly? She has become an important character in your diary, and your faithful readership would like to be able to associate a face with her name. Thanks in advance.

dc314
dc314 on

Due to an overwhelming number of requests, the picture has been added.

Cliff Lee's boyfriend on

She looks swell to me. You guys are just typical uptight Yankees.

Ann on

Did you guys take any Pepto on this trip?

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