The Chinese Way
Trip Start Mar 08, 2011
84Trip End Jun 11, 2011
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We slept in a bit but wanted to get going early as we were heading to the Summer Palace, the summer home of the many former emperors. At 8am we all met in the lobby (including Robert who asked to join us but not Kimberly of course as she's out of money) and made our way to the Metro to take 3 different lines directly out to the Summer Palace. The trip took about an hour and a half but cost just 2 yuan (30 cents US) so no complaints here. Once we arrived Robert took over and we got a little tour-guide bonus for the morning! Robert helped us purchase our tickets and then we visited the toilets (hint that Amy is writing this blog) prior to entering the Palace. We may have mentioned earlier in this blog how it's not a custom for Chinese people to wait in a line. These bathrooms were by far our worst experience up close and personal with this custom. These elderly Chinese women come in and even though I'm in the queue right next to the door they somehow manage to shove me aside and slip into the stall before I can get there. At first I felt bad throwing my weight around or shoving back but after a few rounds of this back and forth I adoped what Robert calls the Chinese Way. I decked about 3 of them and finally, with my pants already unbuttoned and almost down made it into the stall - my prize was the squat toilet.
Tired of the crowds we headed to the opposite exit to find a Metro station. At this point we said goodbye to two more members of our group as they were switching hotels and wanted to relax the rest of the day so they went back to the hotel. Now down to 6 people, we decided to check out a historic Hutong (narrow alleys formed by traditional courtyard residences).
After lunch our group split up as half wanted to attend a traditional tea ceremony and Dave and I had to go back to the hotel to run errands and such before we leave. So again, we hopped in a taxi with Macca (if you remember this is the same dream team in the taxi from the Beijing train station). We should have known not to share a ride because once again, we got hosed. The driver nodded that he knew where the hotel was but took us the roundabout way, took forever and cost a fortune. The three of us should never take a taxi together. Ever. Once back in the hotel we relaxed for a bit and then collected all of our purchases from the last 2 weeks to take to the China Post office to send home. We had seen one a few blocks from our hotel earlier in the week so we trekked over there. Luckily there wasn't anyone else in the store when we got there so the nice staff lady who spoke no English could help us. Good thing Robert taught us how to pronounce our home country in Chinese earlier in the week, otherwise our package would have been sent to the UK. After shoving everything into a box, getting a shipping label and trying to compare estimates Dave had to run to the ATM for more money (this shipping thing costs more than we anticipated!). While he was gone a few groups came in for Post Office help and in the traditional Chinese Way moved my package out of line and I was relegated to the corner. At least we weren't in a hurry and eventually Dave returned with the cash and we successfully sent off our package. Fingers crossed it arrives in 4 weeks in the states!
Exhausted from the China Post we enjoyed a brief siesta in the hotel before meeting up with friends in the lobby at 7pm for dinner. There were 7 of us so we couldn't fit in 1 cab, we needed 2. We asked the hotel to call 2 taxis for us and they told us they would arrive in 10 minutes. Learning our lesson from the day at Olympic Park we agreed upon a big storefront we knew was nearby Bar Street if our taxis split up. The first group went off and then it was Dave, me and Macca waiting for the second cab. Uh-oh. When the first cab came the front desk told me another taxi was a few minutes behind. After waiting another 15 minutes I asked the front desk where the taxi was and they called the taxi company. After hanging up the front desk lady tells me that the taxi isn't coming, we have to find one ourselves. Ticked off, we headed down the street to the entrance of Imperial Park to hail a cab and had no problem. We were very worried that the other group had to wait so long for us but luckily they were waiting at the predetermined meeting spot patiently. We tried walking down Bar Street but noticed most of the bars didn't have food and those that did reminded me of buffets at American strip joints (Dave: how does Amy know what these look like?). There were persistent guys trying to get us into the bars and pictures of 'belly dancers' in the windows. Not in the mood for belly dancing we headed back to the cafeteria style food court we had been to the day before with the group as it was nearby. Unfortunately, as we got to the building the lights started turning off and the escalators stopped, indicating the whole building was closing.
The next morning we met the group for one last breakfast. Once again we went to our local dumpling place for 4 trays of dumplings for 9 yuan ($1.5). Finally eating that last dumpling, we decided that we couldnt eat any more for a while. We were dumplinged out. Good thing we were leaving China. We said goodbye, hugs and kisses all around, and made our way to the airport for our trip to Hanoi via Hong Kong.