It's About The Journey And The Destination
Trip Start Jul 03, 2009
45Trip End Aug 16, 2009
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
The Crowne Plaza Beijing
Our goal was to get to the Summer Palace, a pristine massive garden area built by the emperor. We decided against a cab all the way to the garden as our trusty tour book promised us a “lovely more peaceful” ride on a luxury boat down the river
We stood at the waters' edge watching families take dangerous looking speedboats from 1960 around this small moat area laughing and screaming. The boats all appeared full. Certainly this wasn’t our luxury cruise. It was approaching 3:30PM and just when we were about to ask after the boat’s departure time, a speedboat pulled up. We were told to get in and immediately noticed that everyone was wearing life vests except for whitey. I have been on some terrifying roller coasters, planes that have been hit by lightning, I have been paragliding, bungee jumping, my house has set on fire in the middle of the night and I can honestly say I have never been more terrified than I was on this five minute hellish boat ride. (Make sure to watch Joe’s video, it doesn’t begin to capture the horror). We were told that the boat was going to the zoo which is not where we had planned on going. After making it safely and having a laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation we were quickly escorted to another boat, more serene but already full of Chinese tourists
Finally it was time to disembark. The garden was lovely but we soon realized that we were in the wrong garden. We followed the swarming crowd to yes, another boat. After waiting another fifteen minutes the next boat pulled up and there was a literal stampede to get on for prime seats. I would not be trifled with. My large behind was not hanging off the seat for another half an hour. We joined in the pushing and shoving and managed to get a bit more room. The next ride was as loud as the last so we were more than grateful to reach our final destination…3 hours later. 3 hours. Would have been a 45 minute cab ride. 3 hours.
As those who know me should know by now, I was not in the best of moods after this situation. As my mom often remarks, “poor Joe.” My stomach was in knots of a familiar type of way, but the gardens were incredibly lovely and seeing how excited Joe was made things a lot better. We made it through the first small garden when I had to use the restroom, pronto
The floor of the building where I work consists of 5 immigration offices and one feature film casting office. The bathrooms are always disgusting with all forms of bodily fluids on the floors, seats, etc. We are continuously in awe. “How does pee/poop/etc. get way over there? “ “Who doesn’t know how to use a toilet?” I think that’s what the cleaning person who is in charge of the Summer Palace might be thinking when they enter the last stall of the eastern porta potty. After basically having to shower I headed back out to regroup.
After popping some Pepto and Immodium we were finally on our way. The gardens were spectacular. There was the Long Corridor with 10,000 different scenes from the country side painted on it, the 17 arch bridge which is what it sounds like, and beautiful temples and receiving halls, rockeries, and lakes. The best part of the gardens was the quiet. We entered in a less popular section and enjoyed peace for the first time since hitting Asian soil.
It was getting dark, so we decided to head over to Olympic Park. It was just as impressive as it looked on television. Unfortunately, we didn’t get into the Water Cube because Swan Lake was being performed…in the water cube. We had even brought our swim suits as you can buy tickets to take a lap in the famous pool
Time to head back on the subway, which always makes Joe and I feel more comfortable than a cab. After three transfers we grabbed a quick shower and headed downstairs to our hotel restaurant, Zen, a Hong Kong transplant that was quite tasty.
It was quite the day of travel and patience, but looking back, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
T-shirt of the day: Woody Allen, what’s next?
Tomorrow: A Great Wall