I had left Heathrow airport after near four months of hurdles in embassy trips, legalisation/authentication and TEFL studying in preparation for living and working in the People’s Republic of China…….
So my flight to Beijing has already started with a Chinese flare of things having flown with Air China, I had a passenger next to me who was watching the movie I was but wait – on my screen! Definitely a unique sign of things to come it seems…
My ten hour twenty minute flight landed midday in what felt like arctic wind as I passed through the transfer tunnel of Beijing international airport which amazingly modern in design was enormous. I saw my first taste in knowing I was an outsider by observing the immigration check signs for ‘Chinese nationals’ and ‘foreigner’ in big bold letters. I then made my way to the arrivals to then be greeted by ‘taxi’ being shouted at me for the duration of my short walk. Two taxi drivers were trying to decipher where to take me for around 10 mins to then make a decision by recognising the name, my cue to take the risk and jump in.
A sharp contrast to the cold the taxi felt scorching hot inside but I was grateful to be inside anyway and led towards Beijing central soaking in the wide developed roads, neat clusters of trees and transport infrastructure with my first glimpse of China.
As soon as Beijing came into view with all the tall skyscrapers and apartment blocks dotted with ancient oriental architecture in the mix it looked to be an adventure in the making and a truly individual feel.
I soon payed the taxi fare with anticipation of being ripped off but at 100 RMB it was good and got dropped off near the hostel, as it was a pedestrianised route I had to find it on my own with heavy luggage in hand. With Chinese faces curiously looking at me to try figuring me out I looked back with a smile in response only to mostly be met with a nod or smile back.
I was looking for my hostel in a very narrow lane and was dodging scooters and carts and flying spit while unable to converse with a local in Mandarin or English but very fortunately ran into an fellow foreigner who was Irish that then looked into his Chinese mobile map data and we both walked for 5 minutes around the inside of an alley wondering where I would be taken and I had reached, ready to fall asleep for a few hours to begin my journey to Jining the next day.