Visiting China in 2004 was my first trip with just me and my friends, no adult supervision! I have always had some love for China, maybe too many Kung Fu movies even though I’m not interested in Martial arts per say.
On the journey with me was Leo and Dan, we had booked tickets on the Trans-Siberian railway in which we flew to Moscow. Getting to the train station sure was somewhat of an event and then finding the actual train as no one spoke any English.
The trip from Moscow into Beijing took about seven days which we partly shared with a russian old lady in our compartment. A trip like that is in many ways boring as it is magical.
We were warned not to buy food at the stations, that we would get sick, however that was great food, and it was not until I tried the Russian train food that I went super ill. The last thing you want is to have a upset stomach on a train where the lock the toilets whenever the train stands still. This is especially true when you cross the border between Mongolia and China where they replace the wheels on the trains and both the Mongolian police and Chinese police searches the entire train for drugs and so on. It also didn’t help that my friend had gotten sick from cheap Russian vodka earlier and the entire compartment smellt of vomit between Rusia and China. All in all, a great ride.
Beijing was however a very awesome and special city. The first thing we did was getting scammed by a taxi driver but that’s part of the experience.
We stayed at a hostel, sharing a room with other travelers. Of course it didn’t help that one of my friends got sick from alcohol, puked all over the stairs and room and I had to clean it up, but that’s just part of the experience.
Inexperienced travelers as we was, food was something of a treat, our first day there we failed to recognize that you order for the table and share your food. We managed to order a sortment of weird meat, some cold cuts and that’s it, no rice no nothing besided 1.5 litre of Pepsi each. The staff looked at us funny but hey, that’s just part of the experience.
I doubt we saw much of Beijing even though we jumped around many hours a day, the city just never stopped. It was filled with great, weird and not so great stories. Like the “kind” pimp but still a pimp and his train of ladies of the night. The pushy beggers, the haggling, the smells everything adding up to a learning and growing experience.
After Beijing we took the train over to Shanghai, another magical Chinese city.
I would without a doubt redo the entire trip, up the standards a bit perhaps but to me China has so much adventure to offer.