First of all let me apologise, this is being posted from Vietnam and not China. All has been quiet on the blog front since due to the web censorship of China. Sadly in China Freedom of speech and expression is not something high on the agenda of the supposedly democratic government. I appreciate in the UK we have some form of freedom of speech – It’s almost like “freedom of speech as long as it doesn’t incite hatred or offend anyone” Well in China it is “We decide what you say, who you say it to and what you see/do” To that end, my blog is blocked, Face book, You Tube and loads of parts of Wikipedia and the BBC.
So we arrived in Beijing on time and no health visitors boarded the flight, but there was plenty of screening in an empty Beijing International Airport (which is the most amazing airport I have ever seen) Customs was easy and we were quickly away on the express bus to Beijing West Train Station.
First Impressions were really bad; first of all ill explain the currency:
1 yen = about 8 pence
Well we turned up at the train station and the heat already was getting to us, it was 38 and as humid as I’ve ever known. I have been in Egypt when it has been 40 degrees plus and whilst that is bad its dry heat, it’s nothing compared to the humidity of China. We were covered in sweat and had all our bags with us.
Anyway, I knew the taxi to the hotel cost approx 15yen. I had met a girl in Moscow who was from Beijing and had asked her to write the hotel address down for us. Upon showing this to taxi drivers I instantly had a crowd gathering. It’s important to note that the taxis in Beijing all charge 2 yen per KM with a starting rate of 10yen. The hotel was 3km away. The taxi drivers were so arrogant and unassuming that when they were quoting me 300yen they were actually laughing as they said it, I was obviously laughing too in disbelief that they would charge me the fare for 150km for a 3km journey. Eventually a crowd of about 50 or so bystanders/taxi drivers were all surrounding us laughing and trying to convince me 300yen was the going rate. I was getting pissed off and was just about to leave when I saw a guy pick Abi up and put her in his Tuck Tuck, as I tried to get her out he held his hand out and was saying “I take, I take” He obviously wanted me to get in so he could have his turn at ripping me off. I grabbed Abi out and took hold of Charlie and started to walk away. The Tuk Tuk guy stood in front of me and tried to get Abi again so I grabbed hold of him by his shirt and threw him out of the way. He was shouting something at me so I shouted back pointing that he tried grabbing daughter and someone gestured him away.
I headed straight for a hotel across the road and asked them to call my hotel and have them send me a car – They did and I arrived at my hotel 12yen later.
We arrived at the hotel about 11am and I asked if we could check in early – Thankfully we were allowed. We spent the remainder of the day sleeping and catching up with ourselves.