44 Beijing Lonely Planet...

Trip Start Apr 21, 2013
Trip End Aug 28, 2013

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Flag of China  ,
Monday, June 3, 2013

Day 44

June 3 2013

Lonely Planet

No idea why they call the series of Books " Lonely Planet”, especially the China edition as "Lonely is a term which is difficult to use in China. Beijing being is a city of about 16 million people I have been told and China in general with a population of 1.3 billion and counting,  is definitely not a Lonely Planet here.

I will come back to the Lonely Planet later.

 This morning I had a chance to try out the Beijing underground. As luck would have it I shared my dorm with and Chinese American girl who works as an intern only a few station stops  down from here and she needed to go that way.  I asked if I could go with her so she could show me how things worked here but again it was easy as everything is in two languages plus the fact that the lines run north-south and east-west.  I got off at the third stop and walked ...in the wrong direction to start with. A nice gentleman told me the right way. I arrived at a large building which I knew was the right address, but could not see any signs of the Chinese Travel bureau outside or inside the building.

I walked into the BMW car dealer next door. A girl approached me who could speak English. “I have those two cars at the front and want to pick them up tonight” I said.  Ok Now I got here attention. “No I am kidding” I said and showed her the address details. She recognized it as being next door but did not know the company. She called the office for me and took me inside the building to show me were the the lifts were. Seventh Floor room 5 she said and walked off.

The 7th floor belonged to a shipping and freight company who also operated as an agent for the International train network.  10 minutes later I was outside again with my Mongolian ticket in my pocket.  I went back to the underground and bought a ticket to anywhere. All tickets cost 2 Yuan or about 34 cents . I went back into the bowels of Beijing and boarded the first train I saw. No idea if it went north, south ,east or west as this happened to be a transfer station. I looked at my watch and planned a 20 minutes ride and then get out and see where I ended up.  Well it was an interesting day and I walked for miles and miles. The map showed me the name of the station where I ended up and from there I just walked into a direction where I needed to go, meanwhile  I kept an eye on my position as I did not want to go too far from the underground lines.

Beijing is a very modern city. The Chinese writing gives it away but at times you think you are in a European city. Most cars are either Korean or European. Many BMW's and especially  Audi’s.

As in Kunming and Chengdu nearly all taxis are VW. Of course all the big European brands have factories in China.

Mid afternoon I ended up in long mall with all the worlds best brands advertised in enormous advertising sign often covering entire buildings.

Ok back to the Lonely Planet

One of the malls was I guess 4 -5 km long. During my long walk I was very casually greeted about 8 times by various women with a “hello how are you, where are you from. “ If I answer Australia they say “Oh very nice country!  Howaryagoing mate?  Are you from Sydney? Melbourne?  I would like to practice my English, can we have a cup of tea/coffee together.?”  I answer,  No Thanks and keep walking.  A hundred meters later another one. Very casually, well dressed and not sleazy.  They don’t use words like Honey, darling etc but just say: “Hello where are you from?” and ask something like “How long are you in Beijing ?” and “Do you like the city?”.  I answer  this time “I come from Poland”  “ nice country ,are you from Warsaw? “ Etc This went on every few hundred meters.  Meanwhile I also had a few guys asking me if I liked Chinese paintings.  So I remain polite and say “Yes I like them,but not now as I need to keep going”. They walk with me and leave my after the 4th NO!

Just before I decided to go the next  underground  station I passed a 5 star hotel.  A man approached me, well dressed and spoke good English. Same questions etc and then told me that he was going to Melbourne next month to teach art at the Melbourne University. Aha interesting I said. He tried to slow me down but I kept my pace. “I have some paintings I can show you.”

I stopped this time  and turned towards him and said “Have you heard about The Lonely Planet? “ “no “ he said “what is that?”.  “well that is a travelers hand book nearly all travelers use. It tells you about the country and also about the well mannered woman who want to drink tea or coffee with me.”  “ Oh “he said, “they are the women with the tea scam !”  Thats right I said, and…it also warns travelers about men  trying to sell art and is called the art scam.”  I went quiet and retreated without a word.

Thanks Lonely Planet

Page 946 2009 Edition

Quote:  Con artists are not just increasingly widespread in China-their methods are becoming ever more audacious. Well dressed women flock along Wangfujjing Daji  and Shanghai East Nanjing Road , dragging single men to expensive Chinese teahouses and making them foot monstrous bills.” Poor “art students (in my case a person telling me he is an art teacher) haunt similar areas press-ganging foreigners into art exhibitions where they are coerced in buying trashy art- just say no to both of them.

It pays to do some homework if you are a new traveler. To me this is a bit of old hat. But still …
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Lin on

Wat een prijzen he?
Rens mijn broer zit trouwens in Chengdu. Bij jou in de buurt?

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