A Travellerspoint blog

Sorry to keep you all waiting

Ok, so I'm ridiculously busy in Beijing at the moment, there's just so much to do in this place so finding time to write the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) blog is being delayed a little bit. I'm getting through it but I've got so much to say and obviously there's so much everyone wants to hear so each day is like at least a page worth of writing. I'm throwing up all the pictures now, some of them might not make sense until they're related to the blog, and a lot are a bit blurry as they're taken out the side of a moving bus. But I'm sure a few of them will be interesting enough, I've got a couple of awesome videos of the celebration day but I'm not sure if I can upload them. There are a lot of pics so I hope you all enjoy!!

Posted by travellingjoe 04:25 Comments (1)

Last few days before I'm off to the DPRK

Day 76 – Sunday 8th April

Easter Sunday today!! (not that it’s relevant in China.) Got up nice and late today then phoned the fam to wish everyone a happy Easter. Then I got down to work on my mission to buy a cheap suit, which took hours of finding the right place and most importantly the right price. Eventually I did get a tailored sit for 35 quid and 2 Paul Smith shirts and a tie for a tenner! Didn’t bother getting any shoes yet as I was worn out from arguing with Chinese people all day. Pretty much as soon as I bought it I found out the Mausoleum would be closed in the DPRK and apart from that there aren’t any places where it’s completely necessary to wear a suit, so the afternoon was very much a waste of energy. Went out for dinner at the same place I keep going to (it’s 2 seconds away and very cheap) with a few people from the hostel. Including a really annoying American who’s also going to the DPRK (North Korea), up until recently US citizens weren’t allowed in, and I’m very angry the regime decided to change this rule, luckily he’s not on my tour. After dinner we managed to ditch him and go to this really cool hidden jazz bar on a typical Chinese lake in the West of Beijing. It was a nice place and the view of the lake was awesome, had a really fun night sitting around listening to good live music. Then we all went out to one of the local clubs there, didn’t get to bed until very late, it’s looking very unlikely that I’ll ever get up at a reasonable hour to see sights!

Day 77

As predicted yesterday I didn’t manage to get to see any of Beijing today. I need to change my ways and stop going out every night, and start getting up to see sights (eventually) mainly to save the budget! So I just spent today hanging out with people relaxing (being lazy). In the evening I went out to go have some famous Peking duck (as I am in Peking). Went to a really fancy restaurant where you see your bird getting cooked through the glass kitchen, and the skilled Chinese chefs cutting everything up in seconds. It was very tasty, but I have to say it, I do prefer the English style crispy duck from the takeaway back in London. Couldn’t find any particularly special things going on tonight as it was a Monday night so a few of us just went out to see what was open in the local area and ended up in a Chinese ‘Hooters’ restaurant. Nowhere near as impressive as an American one, and it just felt creepy being in a completely empty restaurant (such as hooters) with 3 other men on a Monday night. So we didn’t stay there too long and instead came back to hang out at the hostel. Luckily I didn’t finish as late as usual so I had some time to call a couple of people and catch up with the world back in London before I went to bed.

Day 78

Despite having still seen no sites in Beijing I am really enjoying just the general vibe of the city, and it’s the people you meet that are more interesting than old temples and shit anyway. So it goes without saying I didn’t go to see anything today. I keep spending at least 30-40 minutes in the shower in the morning as I’m finding this hot water such a luxury which I just can’t get enough of. I quickly got in some brunch before getting off to the market to get some shoes. I didn’t want to spend more than £10 for a pair, and after being laughed off for this price range, haggling with people for ages and getting sent away angrily, I eventually managed to break this guy down to get a pair of nice leather shoes for £9, not too bad. It then started raining on the way home, which isn’t a site I’m accustomed too/ want to get used too anytime soon. Got back to the hostel completely soaked and spent a while drying off while playing some pool. Then, by the time the rain had stopped went out for dinner for a variety of really tasty Chinese dumplings and went to go find a ‘hidden bar’. After about an hour search following some pretty suspect directions we found this ‘hot dog’ shop which seems completely legit, except that at the back there are some stairs that go down to a fake wall where you have to press a button to get into this huge hidden seedy style bar. Unfortunately due to it’s location, the place was empty, but we still had a few stupidly named cocktails and ended up spending ages there. Then we came back here to spend a couple more hours hanging out with a few more people at the hostel. Got to bed early tonight (before 2) as I’m going to wake up tomorrow and go see chairman Mao’s dead body at the mausoleum and beat the queues.

Day 79

Today has to have been one of the busiest days in my life! So a few of us got up at the crack of dawn to go queue up for over an hour to see a Chairman Mao’s dead body for 20 seconds. And yes, it was a let-down, his body didn’t even look real, just looked like a wax statue lying down! After I was done I had to go to pick up my visa for North Korea (I’m finally off tomorrow!). Due to the fact that I picked it up here in Beijing rather than getting it sorted in London I didn’t get a visa in my passport, instead I get a stupid separate tourist card. It’s so unfair, I really want a page in my passport with a visa for North Korea, how many people have got that?! After this I went to go see the forbidden city which is pretty much a huge palace (the size of a small city) for some old Chinese king or something, got through the first gate then at the main entrance I took a detour to go to a hill behind which supposedly has a great view of Beijing. And rather than spending hours walking around the maze of the city you can see it all from above, I also bumped into the other 2 from the morning there, as they gave up on the Forbidden City as well. It was an incredible view (see pics), and our next stop was a famous park/lake thing in Beijing not too far away, which was nice and had a few temples. Then after a break and some food we got going to our next stop, ‘the temple of heaven’ which was a temple in the middle of a huge park. The temple didn’t look like anything special so we didn’t bother paying to go into that, and instead just sat around in the huge park. We were going to go see the Olympic park, next as it’s supposed to be beautiful at night, but we didn’t think it best to see everything in one day because there would be nothing left to see in the city(and we were knackered!). Then I spent the rest of the night hanging out here with everybody before I head off tomorrow, I can’t bloody wait!!

Gonna wait a day or so to upload or the North Korea stuff, because there are loads of pics and loads to write about, and it will give everyone a chance to catch up on the Beijing pictures. But just to say it's a fucking cool country and I had an awesome time. It was very surreal to be in such a closed off country.

Posted by travellingjoe 07:33 Comments (4)

Sorry guys

Having a few issues with internet and laptop here at the moment and running out of time before heading off to Korea (tomorrow) So sorry for no update guys, when I get back I'll upload like 3 or 4 entries. Having a cool time, seen loads of sights in Beijing and super excited about heading off tomorrow. No internet for 10 days now so speak to everyone when I'm back.

Posted by travellingjoe 09:49 Comments (2)

Hello China


Day 73 – Thursday 5th April

Here I am in Kolkata airport, my last taste of India before I embark on the next step of my journey. I can now officially say that I made it 10 weeks in India without having any…tummy… problems at all, I deserve a medal! So I got up in our beautiful hotel room, and then I had to rush off to get a physician to sign off on me being fit for diving. So I go to the hospital just as it opens get straight to see a doctor and she just says no we don’t do that. Come on all you need to do is check my blood pressure and sign a piece of paper! So I got in a rickshaw and went to a private clinic, where the doctor wasn’t in and wasn’t arriving until 10:30 (have to be at the airport for 11). So I gave up and went back to the hotel to get some breakfast and wait around a bit before the flight. Then it dawned on me that trying to get this done in Kolkata or Beijing will probably be stupidly difficult as they’re huge cities, and at 10 we went to the clinic. Thankfully, despite there being a huge queue, they remembered me from earlier and let me go in first so I jump past a load of angry Indians. I sit down next to the doctor and explained I’d been diving for 3 weeks and she was like ah well you’re still alive so I’m happy to sign you off, and she did and she didn’t even charge me anything! Typical India, always expect the unexpected. After this was done we jumped into a rickshaw to the airport, and me and dad parted ways, me on a flight to Kolkata and him off to Chennai (where he later missed his flight, due to oversleeping!). So I got to Kolkata, and met up with Nico in the airport (as he was on an earlier flight), and we got in a cab to the centre to find him a hostel to stay in, as I had a 10 hour wait for my next flight I wanted to get out of the airport. So we spent the day walking around, taking in crazy India again, with tons of traffic, rubbish and smells. Just as I left a massive storm started, thunder and lightning, the full works. I guess I left just in time. Said goodbye to Nico, and jumped in a cab to get back to the airport for my midnight flight to Kunming in South West China.

Day 74

Wow, today was one of the longest days ever! So I got on my flight to Kunming around midnight, and arrived at 5:30ish China time, and went to check in for my next flight to Beijing. For some reason the guy wouldn’t let me check in, and there were about 6 of us just stood there with no idea what was going on, seemingly the flight had been cancelled as it wasn’t even on the boards. But then suddenly, about 40 minutes before the flight was supposed to leave we were allowed to check in, and had to run through security and to the gate just to make it on in time. Somehow the plane was full, don’t know how everyone else managed to check in so easily! The flight was only a few hours, and when I arrived I got on the express train into central Beijing and got on the metro to go find somewhere to stay. Unfortunately, it’s high season here at the moment, and after about a 4 hour goose chase all around Beijing checking pretty much every cheap hostel in the guide book, getting on and off the metro about 4 times and literally seeing the whole city, I found a place. It’s this little hostel hidden away a bit and it’s really nice, with friendly staff and a pool table and most importantly very cheap rooms which are very nice, and the icing on the cake, hot showers! After lugging my big bag all around for so long, this was something I desperately needed. I then went down to go meet some people staying here, and met these 2 Australian brothers who showed me this really cool place to eat, then we went to hit the bars. Fortunately, this hostel is right in the middle of the night life district of Beijing, so they have these streets full of bars and clubs, a world away from India where you struggle to get a drink anywhere. So after a few too many shots we hit the club, and after getting in for free we walk in to this huge, awesome club. I had no idea China was like this, the nightlife here is better than London, so unexpected! Got back very late, especially considering the lack of sleep over the last 2 days, but it was a great welcome to Beijing.

Day 75

Had another great day today, I’m really loving Beijing it’s an awesome city. After getting up with a horrendous hangover, I headed down to the big shopping district to pick up some warm clothes. In the day here it’s actually relatively warm as it’s been good weather, but at night it gets absolutely freezing and I have nothing other than shorts and t-shirts. So I bought a pair of jeans, didn’t manage to find a jacket yet and I was too tired to spend ages haggling with people and finding the shop with the best price. By the time I got back, there was nowhere I could really go to see some sights as most things close around 5pm here. So I just spent the evening hanging around the hostel with a few people having some drinks and exchanging travelling stories. I felt really lazy for not seeing any sites so I cracked open the guide book to see what they recommended doing at night, as I wasn’t in the mood to go to a club again. So we got this random address for a club which supposedly played live music on weekends. So 4 of us got on the tube to go find this place, and after a 20 minute walk at the other end we stumbled upon this drive in cinema complex, which the guidebook had said it was near. I’ve never seen one before, but it’s like a normal cinema with loads of separate entrances to screens, except the entrances are big enough to fit a car through and you tune your car into the relevant radio station to get the audio. So we walked around a bit and stumbled upon this little dingy underground club like thing where there was a stage and a small dance floor for like 40-50 people and a bar. Just so weird to be in the middle of Beijing in some weird drive in cinema complex and in some grotty little live music place. It was brilliant though, there was a reggae band playing live music and they were really good, and they didn’t overplay Bob Marley which was nice. We all just had such a good time, it’s always cool to find weird little places like this on the other side of the world. Got back too late again tonight, might take the night off tomorrow, or not.

Posted by travellingjoe 03:22 Archived in China Comments (1)

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