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.
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.
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.