I was half hardheartedly looking forward to my China trip. I was still on a high from my trip to Europe and in less than 30 days, I would fly off to China. My brain was still a little fuzzy and I felt unprepared. Oh well, I thought, I would just wing it. That was in May 2016.
My first China experience was good. I went with my parents and siblings (all 9 of us), we cycled along a highway at Yangshuo, we picked strawberries, we literally jumped for joy when the weather went down to 1°C, we roamed the streets of the night market, we ate dumplings for breakfast, we enjoyed out homestay, we all followed Mama like little ducklings because our level of Mandarin was (to say the least) sad, we took their local buses and trams, we took the overnight train from Guilin to Shenzhen…it was the best family trip ever.
But I would be alone with the little sister now. With my limited Mandarin, no data connection, a fuzzy head and falling sick, I flew off to China. What I didn’t know when I booked our tickets was that it was right smack during May Day. Where people are advised not to travel to China. Best still, we would be going to Beijing.
I faced a lot of unexpected ‘problems’. From delayed trains (Scoots fault), to unknowingly changing our overnight train tickets to ‘standing only’ space, to being rejected a room in a ‘PRC only’ hotel (my fault), to walking around to find the hotel that would accept foreigners, to not having enough cash to book a hotel room for a night, to having my card rejected over and over again at the hotel front desk, to borrowing money from the sister to pay for the hotel room, to fighting with crowds at the Tienanmen Square, to changing the itinerary and booking a hotel near the Tianjin Airport, to trying to find a shop that sold donkey meat (don’t ask), to taking UberPool and sleeping in the car for 1 hour on the journey back to the hotel (which should have only taken 20 minutes), to taking a taxi from the Tianjin Train Station to our hotel, to the taxi driver not know where on earth the hotel was and getting us lost, to me using Google Maps (which does not work in China) to lead him to the hotel…it was quite an awesome trip.
But I’ll save the stories for another time.