Monday, 20 May 2013

Going to Beijing

... dividing up the precious money ...
“Where do you catch the #102?” and “Does the #513 give change?”

Those were the first questions we heard after we had run through the parking lot, past the Celebrity Tour Coaches, trying to make our way to Beijing on our own and save the $450 the tours would have cost us.

No, the driver did not give change so an English speaker ahead of us on the bus opened up his wallet, gave Greg change for a 50 yuan and that answers the next question,“How did we pick up with those Australians?”

Greg hadn’t remembered that they were the ones who gave us the change to get on the bus.

They too were making their way to Beijing on their own.

Unlike us, they had never travelled somewhere before where no one spoke English.

And that was the glue that stuck them to us.

Wyona had sign-languaged her way into a young fellows heart who had a suitcase, and she trusted that he could get us off of the street where the bus dropped us, and into a train station.

We took an hour on the underground, then another hour on a train to Tianjin, and then a half an hour on a bullet train to Beijing.

... vendor selling paper hats ...
There wasn’t a corner that wasn’t fraught with difficulties – all five of us trying to figure out where to buy tickets, how to put the tickets into the turn styles, how to read the tickets so that we got on the first class trains and into the correct seats.

Grandma, can we take your picture?
“Grandma, can I take your picture?”

That is what two young girls said to Wyona in the square by the Forbidden City.

Yes, and you get in the picture too, she said, and in return, tell us how to get back to Tanggu.

“Oh, we are not from here, but we are tourists from another place in China,” they laughed.

.  guarding the Forbidden City ...
“Look at me. Now I am walking like an old person.” Those are the words of the 9th person who was crammed into a 7 seater taxi that brought us home.

A guy from Arizona (Greg suspects he was from Russia from his accent) had to sit on his friend’s lap, and he was perched there, one of his own arms on the driver’s headrest and one on the seat behind his friend.

They had been charged $500 American for their taxi ride into Tianjin in the morning, and knowing they had been ripped off, were standing beside us, trying to negotiate a fairer price on the way back to the ship at night.

Wyona had been off talking to a Chinese businessman this time, and asked him to negotiate the price for us.

Soon there was a yelling match going on, the three taxi drivers who were swarming us, trying to get us to pay their fares for rides pack to the port, and him, yelling at them in Chinese that they were ripping us off.

The language got louder and louder, the taxis were parked out in the street, as though the traffic back up and around them didn’t matter, and the student yelling louder and louder at them, taking on each new taxi driver that stopped.

Finally a larger van drove us, gave us a price of 180 yuan to take 9 people back to the port and we climbed in.

But only 8 of us made it into the taxi ... Greg still out on the street.
 ... We saw a portrait like this in a house in 7 Springs, Lee River ...
“I am not leaving without him. Let me out,” said Wyona.

So everyone scooched over and the Russian / Arizonian sat up on his friend’s lap, to make the whole deal work.

“Can you climb over this taxi barricade?” We were caught between a rock and a hard place – now in the taxi queue, but this time Wyona finding out from the woman ahead of us, that a taxi would take longer on top of the ground, than the subway would take below, but there was no way to get out of the line-up.

Greg was the first one to check out the barricade, to see that it was bolted to the ground, thus stable enough for all five of us to climb it, swing our legs over it, and head back to the subway to get to the Forbidden City.

Not dignified, but it worked. Won’t be able to travel when I can no longer swing my legs over high fences.


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