October 5, 2009

Holy Cow, what a weekend. Going to China with Caitlyn, Sean, Alex and Dan was one of the craziest I don’t even know what’s going on weekends ever. I guess the best way to do this would be to break it down into days so we’ll start on Wednesday. Also I should note that Caitlyn and I had thought about booking a night in Incheon which is the town right by the airport, it’s a fishing village so it’s right by the sea and has some beaches and a LOT of seafood. Like real seafood such as octopus and yeah I don’t even know… anyway.
Also, as a side note for those who are really busy/ just didn’t know before but this weekend was the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. On the news you may have seen tanks upon tanks and soldiers marching around everywhere. Seriously. It’s legit. also for anyone who was wondering they really do turn off facebook and blogs in China. ANYWAY.

Wednesday
I get back from my classes, thinking that I would have a great night packing and lounging around. I stop by Caitlyn’s room on my way to my room and she says “you’re ready already!?” and I’m like huh? Then I realize that she had packed and was getting ready to go somewhere. Then I realized that when she said that Incheon was “booked” in a text message earlier that week she had meant that she had booked it not that Incheon was full. Lucky for everyone I’m good at changing my plans so I told her I’d be ready soon, went back to my room and packed then Caitlyn and I headed for the bus to take us to the Incheon airport where we would get a taxi to take us to the hotel (it was supposed to be about a 5-6 minute drive by taxi).
First we went to the bus but could not for the life of us figure out what bus we were supposed to get on (the bus system in seoul is straight up impossible) so after two phone calls to local Korean’s we finally find out what bus to get on (this is after I had gotten onto a bus asking if they were going to Incheon when they started driving away with me still on the bus and Caitlyn sitting at the corner, her direct words upon what she was thinking at the time are ‘well, there she goes.’ Honestly she didn’t even try to stop the bus she just watched it drive away but with my quick thinking and and mad Korean skillz I got the bus to stop sheer meters away and got out. Don’t worry it gets better.) While waiting for the bus we drew a lot of attention to ourselves a local man kept telling Caitlyn, who was sitting on her luggage, that if she kept eating the mixed nuts she was eating that she would break her luggage. She didn’t think that was funny but I did. Then another local boy informed us that we should cross the street and get the bus going in the other direction because it would be a lot faster. So we crossed the street and got on the bus to the airport. We get on and not much happens until we get to the airport and get off the bus. Then we are swarmed with taxi drivers trying to get us to get in their taxi. We had to get in the one taxi that was going to Incheon so we give him the address. Lucky for us he knew some English and we were excited to see Incheon and our hotel. So we’re driving, then we keep driving, then we’re still driving and Caitlyn and I are starting to get a little nervous. I call Dan one of the boys going to Korea with us because the boys booked a different time for their flight so we had to choose a meeting spot in China. He of course chose some supermarket which HELLO we don’t know where the heck it is and says that we should meet at 4pm our flight came in at 11ish so I didn’t care but there’s came in at 2 so I was a little nervous for their time constraints but didn’t give it much thought so we said we’d meet there at four.(we didn’t realize but their trip cost about $100 less than ours. Jerks). During the call Caitlyn kept poking me and so finally she told me that our taxi ride was taking way way way too long and usually the taxi drivers take a long time so that we can pay more but it was getting ridiculous so then we start sort of freaking out thinking maybe we are going to be in the next bim bim bop meal and the taxi driver is like ‘no no no no no you got off at Gimpo airport not Incheon airport’ so turns out Caitlyn and I got off at the wrong airport then it cost us a crap load of money to pay the taxi driver which was pretty funny because at least we didn’t die.
Our hotel was straight up awesome. We had a Jacuzzi bath and a sauna thing and a TV and two beds and wooden floors and it was amazing. The town was so cute. There were boat harbors everywhere and the sea looked like something from Maine. The beach wasn’t something you’d go swimming off but we went on it at night and collected some shells. We had a nice traditional Korean meal equipped with octopus tentacle things and such. It was very quaint. We ended our day but watching “Nick and Norah’s infinite playlist” a movie on the TV. And excited for our trip to China the next day!
*Moral of the day- pay attention to what bus stop you’re getting off at because it will cost you a lot of money if you don’t.

Thursday
Woke up about a billion times because this DAMN ROOSTER kept crowing. I was determined to find this rooster and seek revenge. So after an early early wake up call I grabbed my camera and headed for the beach. (I had sometime before our shuttle left). I found that stupid rooster and I took a picture because seriously that rooster caused a lot of pain. The beach was stunning though. It was well worth it waking up early just to see it. We got into our shuttle and got to the airport where we found out that OUR FLIGHT HAD BEEN CANCELLED. No joke. And I never got an email or anything. But don’t worry. We talked to this girl at a desk who I’m pretty sure was an angel I put all of my faith completely in this girl. She got us on another flight that was scheduled to leave at 12:25 (The boy’s flight left at 12:50 and they thought it was very funny that we had gotten up so early when they got up later than us and still had to take the subway to the airport). We made it through security check with our trusty Chinese visas and went to our gate. We decided to get some food so we went to a japansese restaurant where I decided to try this rice drink? Bad choice. There were literally junks of rice floating around in it, looked like someone had eaten and backwashed in some water and then gave it to me (although I know that didn’t happen because I poured it from the can myself) so that was interesting. No one was on our flight it was pretty much deserted except this one group of traveling musicians who had dreads and a lot of tattoos and were all cool and stuff. Sort of I mean I don’t know they couldn’t have been that good because they were traveling in economy and they seemed just as nervous about going to China as us. Anyway. We get to China and breathe a sigh of relief we had finally made it!! I could now officially say that I had been to China. All of the excitement quickly vanished when NONE OF THE TAXI DRIVERS WOULD TAKE US TO OUR HOTEL. We found out that the street our hotel was on was blocked because of the military parade. Frustrated and very tired we had to figure out a way to call the hotel. We couldn’t use cash for the telephone you had to use some magical card that we couldn’t find until some man came up and made us buy one and then they lady at the desk (who is my arch nemesis) told us that we couldn’t come to the hostel we had to go to New Dragon hostel and wait there until the streets were open so they could come pick us up and she told us to find someone to write in Chinese the address to give to someone in a taxi. Of course I start running around the airport and NO ONE not even the official security guard helper whatever would come and help us so we were screwed on that note so we went back outside and one of the people directing the taxi’s told one where to go and he took us there. On the way to the hotel we saw a tank with soldiers!!! A real Chinese tank. Very exciting. By this time it was about 4:10 and I wanted to get to the supermarket as fast as we could (we had absolutely NO way of communicating because the phone’s didn’t work and we had no idea where they were) so we get to this supermarket at about 4:30 and wait scared that they had came and left. We waited for 30 minutes then gave up. Caitlyn and I really wanted to go to Tian’amen Square to watch the celebrations. So we went back to the hostel just to check to see if they were there. They weren’t so we started walking down the street, and who do we see but those three boys walking with their luggage. The sun was setting and our goal was to get to Tian’amen Square by the sun set so we could watch the flag ceremony (stupid us obviously this wasn’t going to happen but we were ignorant at the time so just go with it). We RUSHED them to the hostel so they could put their stuff down and they were discouraged to hear about having to wait until late to go to our hostel.
Together the five of us started to walk toward Tian’amen to find the streets blocked by authority figures. Literally could not even pretend like we were going there. So distressed that we couldn’t show our support for communism we bought some Chinese flags and waved them around for a little while, until we found a restaurant. Suddenly I realized I had really been craving duck. I mean I’d had it before but I don’t remember what it tasted like and some crispy duck sounded like exactly what I wanted. At this point we were sitting in front of a church that was lit up with a bunch of tourists everywhere when these two girls approach us and ask if they could take their picture with us. I was SO SO SO thrilled. I had heard that this happened but in real life having random people come up to you to take a picture with you is pretty much the most awesome thing ever. So I offer to take the picture with both of them in it then make them let me take a picture with my Camera. Then ANOTHER group of people (this time older) come over and ask for their pictures with us too. Feeling like celebrities we went into this restaurant thing and we got duck (Caitlyn got a salad because she’s a vegetarian). And some Chinese beer (yingsang or something?) I actually got a coke because I thought I would die of tiredness. The duck was good and the restaurant was nice the waitress was very good at English and we had a good experience. Then we made it back to the New Dragon hostel. While there we looked at their tourist stuff and saw that they had trips to hike 10k on the Great Wall. We were really excited and booked a trip for the 5 of us for tomorrow morning. The bus left at 6:20 so we knew that waking up would be rough but we scheduled it anyway just to make sure that we would be able to do it. Since the same owner for New Dragon was the owner for Forbidden City Hostel the bus was going to come and pick us up at Forbidden City in the morning. The New Dragon Hostel also had a bar in the basement and everyone who was waiting for the Forbidden City Hostel and so we got some drinks and then met some cool people which was fun, Caitlyn and I went to go buy some shampoo and soap. And a toothbrush for Dan who was brilliant and forgot one and when we went outside we could hear the fireworks from Tian’amen square which was really cool. When we came back we found that our spots had been filled with about 5 girls which was pretty funny so we went and sat somewhere else so as not to disturb the boy’s and whatever they were doing but I was exhausted anyway so I basically fell asleep on the couch until the van for the other hostel was came. We got into the van and made it to the hostel after a little hastle and making fun of some girls teaching English in China (from the United States, they were easy targets. Those English teachers are trouble.) Caitlyn and I finally got into our room and fell down to sleep.
The room was 2 bunk beds and we had it to ourselves so we both took a bottom bunk and had our stuff lying everywhere.
Right when we had gotten to sleep we hear the door open and a Chinese boy walked in with a huge suitcase. Completely dillusional with exhaustion I whisper (well it probably wasn’t much of a whisper) “Caitlyn, it’s a BOY!” and she’s says “Hey we reserved the top bunk for you” the boy was like “what?” then he started fooling around with the light switches. I have no idea what time this happened at but I had consumed absolutely no alcohol and I still had no idea what was going on. “Do you want me to turn off the light?” Said Caitlyn. “I’m Chinese.” Said the boy. “Ok, but do you want me to turn off the light?” “CHINA.”
And with that Caitlyn turned off the light and the boy climbed into the bed above mine and we all went to sleep.

Friday
6:20 am.
*knock knock knock*
“CLARE WHAT TIME IS IT!?” I look at the phone that my alarm had been set on and it says 7:30am. We hear Alex’s voice from outside the door, British accent and all “what you haven’t woken up yet!” We open the door to see Alex standing there laughing at us then we say “5 minutes!” and he walks away. While trying to figure out what the heck is going on we hear another voice “Excuse me, we cannot wait 5 minutes we have a tight schedule to keep you can come to the great wall tomorrow we are leaving”. And then they left.
Apparently tour guides are very strict about schedules to the Great Wall even though everything else in China, literally, is “unclear”.
Devestated, I tell Caitlyn, that we might as well go back to sleep, my plan B for basically anything, and then we sleep until 10am. Getting up we decide that missing the Great Wall tour was NOT going to ruin our day, we could do it tomorrow and today we were going to go to the Forbidden City (now called Palace Museum) and Tian’amen Square. Taking a nice warm shower was the highest on our list at the moment, that was until we turned on the water to find it FREEZING FREAKING COLD. Literally, not luke warm but CHILLED. Horrified but in desperate need of a shower I washed my hair and scrubbed myself. Coldest thing ever. While Caitlyn was in the shower I turned on the TV and found the news on an English channel, watching the news in English from China may have been one of the most interesting things ever. They were talking about the parade and how everything was on display, showing the leaders from the night before it Tian’amen. Very interesting. After the shower we head out, for real this time, on a Chinese adventure. So with new hopes we head off. Me with my map and we successfully make it there (they literally are 3 blocks away from our hostel). The Forbidden City was awesome. So so so, pretty. And once again, people were taking picture of me and Caitlyn, this woman literally had Caitlyn pick up her child and had us pose with her. So funny and SO awesome. People were taking pictures of us with their camera phones and other pictures and we would find that when we would look over and see people trying to take a picture of something we would move out of the way and the camera lens would follow us. That doesn’t happen in Korea so I’m pretty sure there is a huge inside secret that we are just missing out on, like they’ll plan to show their children these pictures of us when they become closer to super power status or something. Anyway, nothing like paparazzi to get your self esteem up.
We had lunch before going to Tian’amen Square at a small kind of dirty restaurant but the food was so good! I hate to say it but I for sure like Chinese food more than Korean food. Tian’amen Square was everything that I could have ever wanted it to be and more. Seeing that picture with my own eyes was pretty much the 2nd best thing that happened to me that trip. Dunno why but it was very exciting. We also saw the floats from the parade and could watch the parade on the TV with all the new and exciting military equipment that they had paraded around and such. Everything was SO crowded but so worth seeing. We thought about going to the temple of heaven so we tried to find it on our map but then gave up and went to a market where they were selling scorpions on sticks literally still alive and moving. Also sea horses and such things like trinkets and cards (I bought a set of Mao cards. Pretty cool). Wow. So then…
We got back to the room and waited for the boys (who were supposed to return by 7) and decided to get some food. This trip to get food was definitely not as successful as the night before. I accidently ordered fried chicken fat. It was pretty funny and I still ate a good amount of it. We shared plates and sean and dan ordered duck AGAIN. So that was fun. We walked around a food market for a while to find more speared insects, a lot of meat, and fruit and also, I kid you not “Sheep Penis” GAG. Speared also. Walked away from that one. The night ended with saying goodnight to our roommate and falling asleep (this time with a wake up call) until our trip to the great wall.

Kind of tired of typing now since I’m up to 3,300 words and on my 6th page on Microsoft word. I’ll write about Saturday, Sunday, Monday soon.
COMING UP!!!
Great Wall-Summer Palace-highway experiences. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come!

7 comments:

  1. So glad you are back online. Can't wait for the next installment!

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  2. Cannot wait to read about the rest of the trip. I wish some of this was on video!!!!

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  3. ah yes. well some of it actually is on video but only the part II things

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  4. "Well, there she goes" has got to go down in the quote book.

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  5. Hey Clare great to have you back. I was breathless reading the latest. You are going to turn international politics on its ear when you get a job in the state houses.

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  6. SOME of us have some studying to do

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