Arrival to Beijing,
the Capital of People’s Republic of China

We were often quite lost in Henan province. We had to change many kinds of transportation and almost nobody understood us. After all difficulties we were able to visit beautiful Ten-Thousand Buddha Cave of the Longmen Grottos and famous Shaolin Temple with Kung-Fu fighters. The weather in Shaolin was pretty bad so we were not regretting that we had to move on. Our next destination was Beijing!

After our fast escape from rainy Shaolin we caught the last bus that was going to Zhengzhou. From that city we had our night “hard-sleeper” train going to the capital of China. The population of Zhengzhou is about the same as the population of the Czech Republic and it’s one of the main train junction in China. The train station here looks more like airport because it’s huge with a lot of terminals. The city itself seemed to be very gray and cold. There was a dense smog all over the place and most of the Chinese were wearing air pollution masks. “Typical ugly and crowded Chinese city.” We talked to ourselves and went to pass thousands security checks to the train station.

We booked our train for 1 a.m. and so we had a lot of time to watch local life at another Chinese train station. We have never seen so many people waiting for transportation. In every terminal there were hundreds of people. Some of them had really weird kinds of luggage. The favorite kind of luggage was simple huge bag that doesn’t weight anything and local people can put all their homes in there. However we could compete with them because our backpacks are big too. We were only non-Asian tourists there so everyone was staring at us.

We sat down between the groups of Chinese and started never endless wait for our train to Beijing. They kept postponing the time of the departure till 3:30 a.m.! We were really exhausted because we got up before 7 a.m. the day before when we went to exercise Kung-Fu with a monk in Shaolin. It seemed to be like a week ago. The waiting wasn’t very nice because Chinese people were smoking right inside the train station and didn’t care about restriction signs. Visiting toilets was another unforgettable experience. If you overcome the first horrible smell you enter the room with some Chinese sitting next to each other with pants down. Public toilets in China are really awful. It’s simple due to huge amount of people in China.

“Wake up! It’s here! At 3:30 the train finally arrived. Half asleep we took all our stuff and joined Chinese crowd to the platform. We didn’t want anything else than bed! We found a free coupe and started to push our huge backpacks under the bunk beds. It was obvious that the beds were used before. They probably don’t change the sheets during the night when someone leaves. Everything smelled bad because some Chinese smoked even inside the train. We were glad we had our own sleeping bags so we finally went to sleep.

The train was approaching Beijing at midday. We guessed the right train station to get off and continued to our hostel by metro. It was easy to find the right because the metro in Beijing is very clear and organized. Karel once fell after escalator with all his backpacks but nothing else happened. We were warned that smog situation in Beijing is the worst but on our first day we had nice blue sky. We put our luggage to hostel and went to explore the beauties of the capital city of China.

Copyright © 2014 | | Karel Stepanek |