Planes,Trains and Automobiles; Our Journey to Beijing

After celebrating the New Year with friends and family back home in Washington D.C Sebastiaan and I packed our bags and heading off to Beijing for a little over a week. I was participating in a study trip with my MBA program and Sebastiaan came along for the ride. After the longest flight of my life (no really, it was over 13 hours), we collected our luggage, finally made it through customs and decided now would be just about the right time to figure out where our hotel was and how in the world we were going to get there. We hadn’t had a chance to exchange any money so that was our first stop. The teenagers working at the currency office spoke decent English, wrote down the name of our hotel in Chinese characters and told us that a taxi from the airport to our hotel would cost approximately 120 RMB (around $15). This seemed impossible as the ride was expected to take 45 minutes. We decided it was best to search for a second opinion. We went to an information desk where we received the same estimate and decided to try and go find a taxi. Sebastiaan was still sceptical and because he is the cheapest man on earth was insistent on finding the cheapest means of transportation available. If it was up to him we would have taken a rickshaw or a camel or a mule no doubt. Now at this point we had walked the length of the terminal 5 times, dragging far too many suit cases, so you could say my mood was less than cheery… Right before we reached the taxi terminal a man came up to us and asked if we needed a taxi and said it would be 400 RMB. While we both knew this was obviously the Chinese equivalent of a NYC gypsy cab there was no turning back for Sebastiaan. We were taking the bus. We walked downstairs to the shuttle bus counter and through a combination of sign language and pointing to the name of our hotel in Chinese (well, we hoped it was the name of our hotel) we were instructed to wait outside and take the bus to the last stop. The bus cost about $1.50 so regardless of the fact that we had no idea where we were going and about 5 suitcases to haul between the two of us Sebastiaan was a happy camper. Off we were. After about 45 minutes we pulled into a bus station and were told to get off the bus and collect our luggage. By this time it was dark, about -10 degrees outside and Sebastiaan was avoiding eye contact with me for fear of losing an extremity, or worse… 20 minutes, a few runs across a 6 lane highway and a minor meltdown later we finally found someone who was able to tell the cab driver where to take us. Along the way Sebastiaan and the cab driver were having a very interesting conversation in Chinese (the driver) and Dutch and English (Sebastiaan). They laughed, I cried a good time was had by all. We made it to the hotel, Sebastiaan said goodbye to his new friend and I stormed inside… A bit of a rough start.


One thought on “Planes,Trains and Automobiles; Our Journey to Beijing

  1. rbfreezeframe

    Oh dear…been there as well! So sorry that is how your trip started. When we were in Hong Kong, we made the mistake of a gypsy cab…and again in Beijing (shame on us, guess we are losing our NYC instincts!). Fortunately no problems in Shanghai. Looking forward to hearing more about your travel in the Far East!


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