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The Adventurer’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 31 Jan 2007

Location: China

MapI've made it to Beijing! My last days in Korea were awesome and I lived every day to the fullest. The last day of work was happy and sad at the same time, and very busy, but it ended well. Some of us went out for one last meal together and then played cards one last time. I left Ansan at 2:00 pm yesterday on my way to the Incheon ferry terminal.

There were no problems getting on the boat. I made my way on and found my room. It was cozy and the bed was so comfortable, I had a great sleep. I shared a room with 3 Japanese guys who are studying Chinese in Qingdao. They were friendly and spoke a little English, so we could communicate. I ate dinner (bulgogi and rice with vegetables), read my book (currently reading the first Harry Potter and the Rape of Nanjing), and went out on deck. It's a surreal experience looking out at the blackness of the night sky and the ocean, with only the moon and the stars giving off light. Didn't stay out long as it was bitterly cold and the wind was enough to knock you over! Went to sleep at about midnight. The only thing I was disappointed in was the service as they weren't very friendly on the boat, I couldn't even get a smile out of some of them.

The boat was quite rocky at times, but I didn't experience any seasickness. We arrived in Qingdao port at 10:00 am China time. Made my way through customs no problem, and the Japanese guys helped me get a taxi (they spoke excellent Chinese) and came with me to the train station.

For those of you who don't know Qingdao is famous for brewing the Chinese beer called Tsingdao. The brewery was initially opened by the Germans, who occupied the city in the early 1900s. You can see a lot of German style architecture here. I wandered around for a bit and decided to try and get something to eat. I found a very small restaurant where they spoke maybe 2 words of English. The menu was all Chinese with no pictures. Luckily, they brought somebody over who understood me when I said "noodle". They brought me a noodle soup kind of dish with vegetables--it was just what I needed, actually. I went and sat in the bus station and read until I boarded the train.

The train ride was interesting--got myself a sleeper for about $25-30 U.S. It was cozy. The scenery was filled with older buildings, lots of trees, some mountains, and a lot of flat land. Managed to catch up on some sleep. Got into Beijing at 10:00 pm. It was an adventure just trying to find a phone to call my friend Brian, but I found one--I think all the payphones are broken in this city!! I finally found one, but the logistics weren't going to work, so I chose to stay in a hostel just for the night. It was a little frustrating getting a taxi as I was not in the mood to play the negotiating game, just wanted to get to the hostel, but I got a taxi for about $3 U.S., which, as I found out after, should only have cost a buck, if that. I'm not complaining, really, as 3 bucks is nothing, just that I found out after that you shouldn't negotiate and just use the meter--ah well, lesson learned. Anyway, I'm at the hostel now and it's pretty decent. Nice rooms! Paid about $20. I'll catch up with Brian tomorrow.

Overall, things have gone pretty smoothly so far. Signing off now for a good night's sleep!