Friday, October 5, 2012

Doublecross in Beijing

Wangfujing Street - near our hotel in Beijing (Wikipedia)

One of the great advantages to teaching in Korea is the opportunity to travel to some incredible of the world that I never thought I would be able to see.  The first week in October in Korea is Chuseok or "The Autumn Festival", a Harvest festival celebration for the Korean people.  We have the week off so it is a perfect chance to take our initial trip outside the country and we decided that China would be our first destination.  We arrived in Beijing on Sunday, September 30 for a five-day mini vacation.       Like a sinusoidal function, the trip had it's ups and downs...ha, ha, ha...a little math humor for you.  There are some amazing iconic sites that we experienced while we were there and at the same time there were gigantic frustrations that were also a big part of the trip.  Let's talk about those first...

We arrived at the airport and after clearing customs we took a shuttle to our hotel...except it didn't go to our hotel, it arrived at a large train station in the central part of the city.  No problem, we'll just grab a cab from there to the hotel.  In fact, a cab grabbed us.  As soon as we got off of the shuttle a very nice gentleman helped us with our suitcases and immediately escorted us to his vehicle.  Not a good move on our part.  He was friendly and very helpful and took us on a 5 minute ride to the Novotel Hotel...and proceeded to charge us $200 US!!  How do you say WTF in Mandarin?  We told him there was no way we were paying that...we didn't even have that much cash.  After a lot of back and forth on the price I think we ended up paying around $50 for the ride...pretty horrible way to start our trip.  Some regrouping was definitely in order.  To accomplish that we decided that the next day we would visit the Great Wall.  That's the subject of the next post...

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