I Don't Want to Go to Disneyland!
I don't want to go to Disneyland!
I think the adventure fully kicked off when we almost missed our very first flight. It did seem strange that, although our tickets stated boarding began at 5:25am, the screens were not yet calling for boarding by 5:43am. We finished our breakfast, bought a book and headed for our gate- a good hike away. It wasn’t until we got to the last screen before our gate that they updated in large letters reading FINAL BOARDING CALL and the announcements, we realized, were beckoning the stragglers of our flight- us.
We ran. We made it. We laughed. Great start and we’re still in Canada. Oh dear.
The flight itself was more than half empty (some would argue half full) so rather than sit two rows apart, Kara and I sat together in hopes we could keep one another awake for the short two-hour flight to San Fransisco, saving our sleeping for after the layover there when we would begin the 12-hour flight to Beijing.
Our nerves were surprisingly calm despite the journey ahead. The clanging from beneath the plane and the announcements from the pilot stating we would be taking off shortly, once the mechanic had finished dealing with some minor issues with the fuelling of the plane, did attempt to threaten our composures but instead we chalked it up to yet another example of our brushes with bad luck that never stick. (Hey, if the Great Wall hasn’t collapsed from rain by the time we arrive nor San Jose crumbled from quakes, we’re laughing.)
As the plane backs out of its docking and begins to taxi, unexpected guttural noises can be heard directly behind my back. Then the wailing began. “Nooooooooo! Take me home! Let me off here! Mooooommmmmmmm! I DON’T WANT TO GO TO DISNEYLAND!” The eight-year old behind us clearly did not know of the magical place in store for her. I quietly whispered to Kara after we exchanged a few eyerolls, “I promise to never say that if you ever want to take me to Disneyland.”
Throughout all of this, we are taxiing. Annnnd taxiing. After several minutes of doing so, Kara taps my knee and queries, “I’m sorry, are we driving there?” My laugh reverberated throughout the plane of course, and our giggle-fit somehow didn’t calm the child behind us.
I fell down the stairs during our layover in San Fran, but other than that we made our connecting flight quite nicely.
Kara and I each had window seats, mine directly in front of her, and allowed us to share flight amenities or wake each other for food. Again, thankfully the flight had spare seats, two of which were the middle seats beside both Kara and I, proving for a much more comfortable flight. After twelve-hours, a few laps around the plane and me icing my ever-questionable achilles, snatches of sleep and two-plates that mildly resembled food, we arrived in Beijing.
Walking to Baggage Claim and passing a television screen that showed writing entirely in Chinese, Kara and I looked at one another and laughed - what were we doing here? It has yet to be culture-shock; more culture-giggles. And snorts. (The bathrooms in the airport were porcelain holes in the ground in which you place your feet on either side of the in-ground bowl and pee. It did not go well and I shall avoid those in the future).
Although, as we came up the stairs of the subway into the madness that was bikes, cars, people, pedicabs and buses, feeling like they were all going to run us over at once, carrying our packs on our backs and our fifteen-pound camera equipment bags on our fronts, we realized we were really in China.
Flying by the seat of our pants we decided to just walk until we found a cheap hotel with Wi-Fi for the night (now Thursday Sept 13th) and track down a hostel Friday; this was poorly thought out we realized when weighted down by fifty pounds of gear each, jetlagged, speaking not a word of Mandarin, nor knowing the conversion of Canadian Dollars to RMB, or Yuan. The few English-speaking folks that pointed us in the direction of hotels and hostels thought us two incredibly-insane young women. Who goes to Beijing without at least knowing one specific destination or being able to ask, “How much?” to the locals? Apparently, The Finity Project.
We are just blocks from the Forbidden City, and meeting with the rest of the trekkers from Classic Tours tomorrow morning back at the airport. Until then, wish us luck; I’m going to try and discreetly pee in our bathroom with the entirely transparent glass door while Kara sleeps. Who knew the adventures of foreign bathrooms would be such fun?;)