Monday 21st October – DAY SIX – Beijing – the arrival
Gradually, the blinds inched up the windows. Chris and I on the lower bunks watched the rural life, seeing orderly maze fields take form in the harsh rocky soil, only recently a desert. Rinze slept on upstairs.
Tree-lined streets looked, for all the world, like rural France!
There were mainly small market farms in townships or clusters of family homes perhaps, some light industry and some livestock. Saw a delightful sheep farm with brick winter housing featuring archways like some kind of fleecy monastery.
There were wind turbines, solar hot water systems on roofs and arrays of solar panels crept up the hills.
We had a Chinese restaurant car!
Our captain had given us food vouchers, one for early breakfast which I don’t think anyone could have attended unless they suffered from chronic insomnia, and lunch.
That consisted of a little salad of celery and wood fungus, stir fry veg and rice and a big meat ball. We had to buy our own drinks. They were out of tea by the time I got there at high noon.
Sat with Lian, Andrew and Kim, practicing my essential Chinese phrases. Thank you, I’m sorry, I don’t understand … the usual! They invited me to join them at the Temple of Heaven park the following morning at 06:00 for Tai Chi. That sounded lovely. Yeah. Nah. Not going to happen.
On arrival at Beijing Station we parted company easily and went our separate ways.
I did meet Holly as she tried to work out how to get out of the station and I tried to work out how to get into the subway. I found where to buy my ticket and when I turned to go I met a young girl from Finland with big, wide eyes. I guess mine were the same as we scanned the plaza for some English hint of what to do next. She couldn’t remember where she was going and couldn’t get the ticket until she knew what she was up to. We stared at the subway map on the wall. My hotel had given me instructions so I knew to look for DongSi on line 5.
‘Step by step,’ I told the young girl. ‘We’re not in any hurry. Plenty of time to get to where we’re going. It’s daylight.’ Remembering my encouraging Australian Camino friend I said, ‘You’re invincible. You can do it.’ ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘I can’. ‘You are resourceful,’ I added. ‘And will easily manage.’ ‘Yes,’ she said. ‘I will’. And we both took photos of the subway picture. (Of course, I was talking to myself!) She went to buy a ticket. I went to the subway entrance.
When the train stops
And four minutes