Natalie Goes to Japan

40 year old very married blonde woman having a midlife crisis who heads to Japan alone to follow her dreams. Be careful what you wish for ... you just may get it.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Mao Isn't In Right Now. Can We Take a Message?

Got in the taxi today and told him to take me to Tian'an men Square, and he took me to Dianmon instead. I knew half way through the taxi trip that we were going in the wrong direction, but decided to see where I ended up. It was near the Drum Tower and the Bell Tower, so I thought I would give them a whirl. Only slightly interesting, and pretty hard work to get up to them. Afterwards my book recommended a nearby temple, which I eventually found. But they wouldn't let me in. I'm still completely baffled as to why? There were other people in there. So I walked down to the lake nearby and ended up taking one of those bike rickshaw tours through the hutongs. But I didn't pay any attention to the one I chose. And he must have been a gypsy cab... his bike was a piece of crud, and I don't think it had any brakes. And he wasn't wearing the nice uniforms like the other guys andthis rickshaw didn't have the nice canopy that could be folded back, and I really could have used a little sun on my face. But it was interesting enough. And that part of Beijing is a real study in opposites. The lakeside is full of trendy bars and lovely pedestrian paths, and then just off the lakefront are more typical hutongs with local cubbyhole markets and laundry hanging in the streets, but a lot cleaner than the real hutongs, like the one where the hostel is. I caught another taxi who had no problem taking me to Tian An Men Square. It was big, but not particularly interesting. So, I sat and ate a Snickers bar and watched all the tour groups go by. Decided to go find the line to visit Mao's body but there was a tiny little sign saying it was being renovated from March to September. Mao refused to take my call, the snob! Found a little park on the map nearby so I decided to kill the rest of my afternoon there. But what looks little on a map of Beijing frequently isn't...including this park (Zhongshan). It took me quite a while to get through, and it was rather pleasant. And right at the end I found this lovely little teahouse, so sat in the sun and drank some sort of gorgeous flower tea. The day never got warm enough for me to take off my heavy jacket, but I didn't freeze either. I found another taxi to take me back. Got ready to check out of the hostel and realized my train wasn't until 9pm and not 7pm like I previously thought, so sat around and talked to the other people there. Turns out more than half lived in Japan and taught English and were on break between school years, like myself. Caught the train and got settled into my sleeper bunk. It was a long rough night. Fell asleep easily enough, but woke up soaked in sweat. It was boiling in the room and the air was so stale I had to get out. Found the bar car, I was the only non-employee there, and ordered a Chinese ripoff of Sprite and read my book. Eventually I had cooled down enough to try the sardine can again. Two of the 4 bunks were taken up with men, both of whom snored terribly. One snored the traditional cartoon snore that sounds like a dying dinosaur. The other one murmered and made sex noises, when not actually shouting in his sleep. I eventually fell asleep and woke to watch the dry dusty Chinese countryside going by outside my window. That's a pretty cool way to wake up, dontchathink?k


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