Adventurer, Writer, Couch Potato.
Well my Japan adventure has officially come to a close. I spent my final night in my small, dirty, boiling hot room in Osaka just wondering where the time went. The next morning I woke up and made my way to the airport. On my flight itinerary it stated Osaka airport, so I started walking in that direction and about half an hour later I decided to get a taxi. It was not too far but felt I walked enough.
I hailed a taxi and he headed to the airport. After about twenty minutes in the taxi going in the wrong direction I checked with him to see if he knew where he was going. He said “International airport yes!”. So I quietly sat in the back and hoped for the best. An hour and fifteen minutes later he pulled up at Kansai International Airport. I was at the wrong airport and ages away from where I wanted to be. I could not explain to the driver he drove to the wrong airport and did not have the obscene amount of money it cost to get there. So I was forced to go inside the airport and find an ATM. While the driver waited outside I went and got some money. For some strange instinctual reason I looked up at the big departure screen and saw my flight number up there. I ran over to the information desk to double check with my own details and it turned out I was the one heading to the wrong airport! I was amazed at what a great deal of luck that was and relieved that I did not have to find a way back to Osaka. I ran out to the taxi driver and happily paid him. If it was not for him I would have missed my plane and worse still had overstayed my visa.
So I was at the airport. I checked in, checked on and checked out. Bye bye Japan. The flight was as expected. I could tell I was headed to China though due to the number of people coughing and spitting their lungs into tissues and plastic bags. I would love to know where that social normality came into their society. I also knew I was flying a Chinese airline as the plane stopped in Qingdao to pick people up. Which was not on my itinerary or made aware of until twenty minutes before we landed there.
My mum was happy to see me.
I made it to Beijing late that night and was greeted by my mum, sister, brother and brother in law. It was great seeing them as I have not seen them for three months. Getting to the hotel I booked was around an hour. My family felt the hotel was getting tired and falling apart, but to me it was a palace. Air conditioning, my own bathroom and private shower and most exciting was that I had a bed! As much as I wanted to crash we headed out to look around and chatted with a local shop keep. He did not speak English but luckily my brother in law was there to translate the dialogue.
The next day we headed to Qianmen street market and looked around. It was full of people selling all kinds of items such as hats and sunglasses and clothes. We went back there today and I had a figurine made in my likeness. I am still uncertain that it looks like me but you be the judge.
We spent some time at the Summer Palace one day. It was huge and full of people as would be expected at a major historical and tourist site. So many great temples and walkways. When we got to the bottom the river was full of peddle boats. It was a searingly hot day so we headed off early. On the way out I saw the epitome of communist China. A small old woman was trying to sell ice creams to the tourists as they were leaving and a police officer tried to take them from her and knocked her to the ground and stomped on them all. We got the train back and headed to the hotel. Obviously we got lost, but it was great. We stumbled upon Hutongs, which are the poorer areas of the city where many people live. Small lanes and lots of people walking around. Many people stopped and stared at us wondering what we were doing. Lots of little children would point and scream in terror when I walked by as they mostly would have seen westerners on television and Chinese people seldom have beards.
It was great walking through it but it was getting late and my brother in law needed to get back as he was flying back to Australia that night. We made it out of the Hutongs but were in worse shape than when we started. We discovered we had walked backwards. We needed to get another train back to the original station we left from. So to sum up, it had taken us two hours to get back to where we started from then walk twenty minutes in the right direction to our hotel.
My family have pointed out that I have picked up some habits from my Japan adventure. I subconsciously bow whenever I deal with people, I hand money over with two hands whilst simultaneously bowing. I keep saying Hai, which is yes in Japanese and could be somewhat disrespectful and seen as racist, if the Chinese know what it means so I need to watch that. The bowing could be something that would be nice to keep as a habit back home though.
It has been a great first week in Beijing and great to see my family. Going solo was great but it’s equally as great experiencing things with them.
Thanks to everyone who has donated. Only $438 to go until we reach our goal! Amazing effort people. It is much appreciated!
Way to go Rob and what a fantastic adventure in Japan. All the best with your China trip, and maybe we need to buy you a compass to hep with your directions!! Have fun Dad
Paul Saunders Director Performance Psychology LN Consulting Pty Ltd Level 1, 1 Queens Rd Melbourne, 3004 Victoria Australia Ph. +613 98637260 M. 0417312267