We landed on the 5th of August in Beijing. You feel a bit more welcomed when you arrive at Beijing international airport than when you cross the dodgy overland border at HeKou.
Thomas is however worried about the official who stamped his passport. He smiled so he must still be questioned by his supervisor.
We knew we had to fly from Hong Kong to Tokyo on the 9th but in between Beijing and Hong Kong there were 2,500km and a question: "how the heck are we gonna get there?"
So we went straight to Beijing west train station -2h away from the airport by bus- only to be treated like two flat, dry, tiny pieces of shit by the train station admin people. When we asked if there were a train available Beijing to Hong Kong, the answer was "no". not that they checked, it was just a direct "no" like "no, bugger off, you are dirtying my already dirty guichet, i don't want to speak to you".
After this first failed attempt -which reminded us we were in China- we tried to locate the "english speaking guichet" where our salvation could be. We were optimist. As well as foolish. At the English speaking counter there were about 2,349,762 people already queuing and amongst them, one white guy trying to fight his way to the counter without having Chinese people jumping the queue, which is mission impossible. Not the one with Tom Cruise. The real one. The impossible one.
When reaching the counter, the admin girl's english was as bad as Thomas's mandarin and the discussion sounded like this:
- "Hello, do you have two train tickets available for the day after tomorrow from Beijing to Hong Kong?"
- "ticket. no ticket. ticket only on 23rd. come back tomorrow."
- "is there another way to get to Hong Kong?"
- "come back tomorrow"
- "well, i'd like an answer now if possible"
- "no ticket. come back tomorrow"
- "will there be tickets available tomorrow?"
- "no ticket. only 23rd"
Then she waved with her hand as if to get rid of this annoying french fly that kept on asking questions about "wanting a train ticket". Thomas thought she was at the wrong counter, in the wrong job and left unhappy.
The plan was then to reach our comfortable hostel, the "happy Chopsticks" 2km North of the crowded Forbidden City. It is a nice place. the staff is great and there's a pool table. Perfect. Yumi spent the evening looking for ways to get to HK by train but nothing was available before the 11th. Too late for us. Once again we were reminded that when China is on holidays, it is impossible to get a train ticket.
On the 6th we decided to buy a plane ticket to Shenzhen for the 7th. Shenzhen is 2h away North from HK by bus. Why not flying straight to HK? the plane tickets to Shenzhen are 50% cheaper than those to Hong Kong. A good enough reason for us.
We spent the afternoon of the 6th at Decathlon buying cycling gear we'll need for our Japan trip and came back late to pack our bags and get ready for a 5am start.
Our journey to the airport and the flight went well. The closer we got from Hong Kong the better we felt.
It is a shame but China was not our favourite destination: anybody who worked for train or bus stations, airports, we won't even talk about customs, basically working for the People's Republic of China government was not even trying to help us and was simply rude.
We've met many people in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam who didn't speak a word of English but sign language worked well. When there's a will, there's a way. The will simply got lost along the way and never reached China.
It came as a surprise to Thomas that he was let out of China without his bag searched and his passport taken away for further inspection.