It was a bad night’s sleep but if John could do the Wall, I could take an excursion to Qu Fu for two nights. I felt safer leaving Beijing. When I got back from North Korea, John didn’t say anything, but the next morning as he was leaving he casually mentioned the police had come to his apartment and wanted to know if anyone was staying there. He replied, not that I know of so they replied…we would like to search the place and they did. I had taken everything including my computer after I found out it was OK for storing your pictures and keeping a journal while in North Korea. There was NO Wi-Fi available in N. Korea. China internet allowed me to check email but doesn’t seem to allow me to view my blog, or any blogs, Facebook or Google Plus, so I can’t post anything for friends or anyone to see. I am keeping a journal on MS Works and will transcribe it when I can and include photos.
That day I kept wondering how they knew someone had been staying there. I heard horror stories from CouchSurfers in Vietnam. They would only be a day host as it required them to keep copies of the persons passport and a record of the stay.The Host had to report all this to the local police station and fill out more paperwork. They also had to pay for a permit of over $1000 to register. When you arrive in country there is a lot of signs stating that if you are a forgiener and NOT staying in a Hotel , B and B, or Authorized Hostel, you MUST report to the police station withing 72 hours. The poop is this:
Just in case they actually did come for you and take you to the PSB office late into the evening, it’s 500 rmb per day after 72 hours you did not register with the local PSB. Not only for you, but a higher fine for any hotel or friend per day they let you stay without registering. They can hold you without reason for up to 30 days or more.
When I got off at the train station, it was chaotic. I hadn’t really researched the procedure for getting the ticket and everything was in Chinese Characters. All I knew was I wanted to go to Qu Fu but no one recognized that. Finally a policeman directed me inside at the far end of the station to the Ticket office. There were over 50 stalls with lines and nothing with our Alphabet. I went to information and she shooed me away…then as I was leaving she called me back and wrote 16 on a piece of paper. I arrived at 16 to discover it was one of about 3 out of 50 that no ticket sales person was at. I went to 15 and she motioned that the agent was at lunch. Returning to information and the same lady, she X’d out 16 and wrote 17. I returned to a long line and waited until my turn came up. I showed the ticket agent Qu Fu and she looked puzzled and went to 18 and asked the agent…he shook his head…then she went all down the line and returned and pulled up a screen that said Qu Fu Dong .
I couldn’t ask any questions because it just got more confusing so nodded my head and paid $45. I showed my passport and she issued me a ticket, explaining the time was 2:05 departure…OK…then she pointed at the floor and shook her head…not here…Beijing Nan! I was told the train left from here but she insisted Beijing Nan…or South Station.
This was East Station and I didn’t even know whether the Qu Fu Dong was the city I wanted. NO ONE SPOKE ENGLISH and no information booth for foreigners and no forgieners to ask. Only one thing to do. Take the train. I checked the subway map and headed out. It arrived in the station within a huge American like Mall. There was Papa Johns, KFC, and McD’s. I had a double cheeseburger for breakfast. This gave me a chance to add this story to my blog, which I still can’t post. The hostel is supposed to have free Wi-Fi available…if I end up in the right Qu Fu.
This is a massive station and well organized. I’m glad I did get my ticket at the other station because they only have two agents here and the lines were 5 times as long. I ended up with the high speed train. It cost more but I will get to compare it with the one I took in France from Paris to the South. The station does have about 30 kiosks on two levels and also another 10 ticket agents on the second level. Still long lines. The kiosks may all in Chinese characters but I’m not sure.
The information desk did speak enough bare bones English to tell me which entrance (17) I was to be at 20 minutes in advance. It was then I realized I had been running around with my fly down since I left John’s house this morning.
I boarded on time and was very impressed with such a nice clean modern train. They have a plug in for my computer and Wi-Fi available but I didn’t use it. We took off and was up to 180 mph in no time. Buffalo to NYC in two hours on this train. Quicker than taking a plane if you count the ride from JFK to the city and the hour required to be at the airport. The train requires you to be there 30 minutes before departure to clear security and be in line before boarding.
I thought I’d spend my time taking pictures of the countryside. I was told Beijing was so bad I would be better off getting out into the country away from the pollution. When I left Beijing it had been clear and sunny for the last two days. When I got into the country it was so polluted I couldn’t take pictures of the mountains or countryside.
On a related note. Chen Guangbiao, Chinese entrepreneur and philanthropist, said he would sell canned fresh air to raise public awareness for protecting the environment. Possibly make some money at the same time?
I noticed the man next to me started to cough and I didn’t need to make my cold worse. Then I started to cough with this tickle in my throat. I realized it was the pollution. The man said he was from Qu Fu and I was going to the right city. He and I got out in Qu Fu and exchanged business cards then walked me to a Taxi and left. I took a taxi to the front door of the hostel right in the center of everything. I am in the room and still coughing. I’m going to go out and try and get some tea and cough drops. I have a large sparse room with a large sparse bathroom on the second floor. I get a strong internet connection but my computer won’t connect to it. This has been a problem 50% of the time. I’ve resigned myself to not having a connection until I reach Phoenix.
I want to take some photos and wander around. When I returned to the lobby to request toilet paper, towels and a couple batteries for the remote the desk clerk wanted my passport again so she could get some copies of it and my Chinese Visa. I went to the computer so I could get in touch with my email. While there Hon Yung Fang came over and in good English, questioned my Visa. This is not a Chinese one…it is Vietnamese. I showed her the Chinese one, Cambodian, Laos, and Australian. She thanked me and returned. I later got my passport back and ventured out for some photos.
I noted a large golf cart for maybe 8-10 people that I thought was a bus into town. I stopped an Aussie coming out of the hostel and asked…he replied he wasn’t into that “tourist thing” and didn’t know anything about them. It did turn out they gave tours of Confucius Temple and the Cemetery. I returned to get a bite to eat at the bar.
They issue you a cash card for 100 yuan…about $15 and you can buy drinks and food with it. I discovered Hon was the bartender. She was from another province but graduated from the University here in Qu Fu…pronounced Shoo Fu…with a degree in Psychology. She stayed and took a job here at the hostel to learn English and has done quite well. She asked about me traveling alone and where I live , etc. Just then Chris Stone came over and introduced himself. He said he recognized an accent and was right…he was from Ohio…my neck of the woods. He was in his late twenties and had been here 8 months taking Kung Fu lessons. He was a Rock Climber and a Scuba Diver that traveled the world and felt he should do something on the ground for a change. He enjoys Kung Fu and Qu Fu. We had a bit of a chat and he was buying a few beers to bring to a friend as a house warming present. The friend just got a new place near by so he excused himself.
I order some food I thought would be good. Chicken accompanied by fresh vegetables. I had some Gin and Tonics to wash it down with but the chicken was pressed crap and so I ate the vegetables and left the rest. Alec came over to get a drink and also introduced himself. He is from near Bern Switzerland and is also taking Kung Fu along with Chris. They didn’t know each other until he started and, turns out, he is a Scuba diver also. His place is a dump and he doesn’t like the pollution here. Coming from Switzerland I can’t blame him. I am having a hard time of it myself. Chris recommended I do take the cheesy tour tomorrow since I’m only here for the day and leave the following morning. Everyone is very nice and friendly and I will enjoy my brief stay in Confucius Home Town. I bought some water to take to the room to watch the riots in Tunisia now and the UN special meeting to deal with this stupid movie that caused the death of one of our top diplomats, Chris Stevens not to mention the three other Americans of which I know nothing at this point.
That evening my flu symtoms got worse. I started coughing up bad stuff from my lungs and when I awoke it was off to a pharmacy for me. Breafast of three different varieties of fresh grapes, grape tomatoes, orange slices, juice, cold lattee (with condensed milk) and 2 delisious banana pancakes made me feel better.
I ventured next door to see about the golf cart tour of the Temple and Cemetery but it was all Chinese and I didn’t see anything that resembled an office nor did anyone speak English. Earlier I viewed what looked like Americans take off on a golf cart with guides but not now. A nice man on a sort of rickshaw but pulled the cart with a bike, came over and offered to take me around the city for $3.30. How could I refuse. These guys have a backbreaking existence pedaling a bike around town while pulled one, two and sometimes three people all day everyday for next to nothing. He was older too…usually only the young do this.
It was a quiet and relaxing ride through the back alleys, markets and on to the main boulevard. He stopped at a small touristy type place and asked if I wanted to go in, he would wait. It was $3.30 also so I did…the smell of incense permeated the building of statues of Chinese Men. I really had no idea what the place was. There was an alter of sorts, then trinkets to sell and I returned to my rickshaw. I could have paid him to do this all day. I was transported back in time with flashbacks of Vietnam in 1967.
He came to a large modern complex that was a garden and tribute to Confucius. This I did want to visit ..now $6.60 and my driver joined me to point out points of interest. It was like having my own tour guide. We walked around, he jabbering in Chinese and pointing to things, me taking photos. Twenty minutes later we were on the return trip back when I remembered my medicine. I had almost forgotten my illness. He stopped at a pharmacy and the lady gave me three medicines…cough drops, capsules of antibiotics (I think ), and dark brown disks that tasted terrible. I gave my driver the rest of my change when we returned for his assistance and decided to get some hot tea and take my Meds.
Earlier I inquired about the train schedule and my friendly desk clerk pulled up the schedule on the internent, I choose the 2:30 departure…not thinking that I might be sicker not better the next day. I paid her and gave her an additional $2 so she could go to the train station on her break and pick me up the ticket. I paid $7 for a one way taxi from the station when I arrived. She had the ticket waiting for me when I came in the hostel. I took my Meds and went to my room where I started to get Chills and a Fever. I was now getting the worse of it. I napped a bit then returned to the restaurant and ordered a Pizza and hot water. I could barely speak let alone function. My new friend Fang from the night before came over and asked if she could help. I requested some hot water to take to the room and she got me a thermos full. She asked about my Meds as the one she saw…antibiotics didn’t seem like the right one to be taking for a cold. I told her I had two more in the room and she was satisfied.
I returned to the room but with only one English station repeating the same news over and over I just laid there wrapped in two comforters and shivering. Finally the fever broke and I fell asleep and didn’t wake until dawn. I feel like I’m getting my strength back. This is good. I emailed John yesterday, concerned the police may have returned and to find out how his cold was. He had hiked the Great Wall that day then Sunday went to the Gym and worked out. He was doing well and wanted to know when I was returning. He wanted to take me out for dinner when I got back. Maybe he will be the one getting Take Out for me.
I just want to be on the plane in Seoul returning to the US. I’m glad I did cancel my plans for another two weeks in China. You never know. I usually pack all Meds for problems like this and only had the cough drops I gave to Jerry. I do believe he is the one that gave this to me. There is always a high risk of getting sick when your touring with a group, flying on a plane, or jammed into a subway everyday, two or three times a day. If I hadn’t accepted the offer to bunk with Jerry and save $300 in single supplement fees, I would have this problem…something to be said for traveling alone.
Off for some breakfast and to figure out what I am to do for the next 8 hours before my train leaves. I played on the hostel computer trying to delete my personalized web site that came up as soon as I opened Google Chrome. I deleted all the history but trying to figure out how to get rid of your email user name, etc when the computer switches to Chinese Characters when you have to make a decision….remember me/delete/accept/yes/no…I am on each one of the four computers in the hostel even though I only used one and only for email.
Well I can’t worry about it so went to the room and watched more mindless state TV napping inbetween until check out time. I settled the bill and went out to flag a taxi. My rickshaw driver saw me and came over. He offered to take me to the rail station for 15 Yuan…half the price. I couldn’t imagine him pedaling for over an hour for $3 but he did yesterday? I had the time so agreed and was enjoying riding along taking photos worrying that maybe he was thinking of another station than the one I showed him. He was…it was called the bus stop for the train station.
It was only 2 Yuan and another experience so I still made out with a little savings. The bus driver does not give change so I paid double for the ride. Still I had enough for the taxi to the airport the next day without having to take Yuan from an ATM just as I was leaving country. I would leave Yuan free…I hope. The bus ride went well and here I am an hour and a half before boarding. I should have packed some reading material. I’ll read the tourist book about Qu Fu that I purchased.
There is something to be said for China’s one child policy. No rug rats yelling and screaming. The children that are here are few, loved, and spoiled like I was as an only child. 20 minutes to boarding. Everywhere you go in the Orient you find Hot and Cold drinking water. They use the hot to brew tea in their plastic sports bottles or to add to Ramen noodles for soup snack. Here at the train station they have dispensers you have to pay one Yuan to use. It still amazes me that this station is so modern and clean but no soap in the bathroom to wash your hands and still one crappy hand dryer that no one uses. Seldom do you see paper towels.
We boarded the high speed train on time but this time I was in second class…a compartment with two bench seats facing each other and two bunks above to store baggage or in case of third class, for another 6 people. There were 3 assigned seats on both sides face each other. A man with a sporty flea market designer shirt that had an Airborne patch on with crossed swords on the arm, was in my seat. He cheerfully reliquished it and offered and did put my carryon bag on the bunk above me. He than offered me a bottle of water which I thanked him for. The girl across from me looked like Phuc , Leif’s Vietnamese wife. Leif was my friend from Denmark that met and married her in Vietnam before bringing her back to Denmark pregnant. She was reading a Kindle book in Chinese, carried a back pack and chewed with her mouth open. An attendant showed up requesting tickets then got into an arguement with the guy across from me. It was heated and long but he didn’t back down and just ignored the attendant so that it pissed her off more. Eventually she left in disgust. He had tatoos on his chest, military buzz cut , large gold ring with large gold necklace. He was cocky but nice. Next to him was a man who I believe was traveling with his young son and wife who were sitting on the other side of the man next to me. Second class is more personal than first class and I believe the people to be more friendly, sharing food and chatting together.
|MODERN TOILET ON WORLD’S FASTEST TRAIN|