So Qindao was a bit of a wash-out. It was raining and the beaches were cordoned off, but the typhoon never really materialised. This meant that we were dissapointed on all counts – everyone needs to witness a natural disaster at some point in their life. Regardless, we found Beer Street and drank plenty of beer (80 p a jug in some places), got lost in a forest and caught the bullet train to Beijing. Ah, Beijing. So big. So bloody big. And busy apparently. We phoned at least ten hostels but all were jam packed so it was up to Alex and his ever-expanding network of international contacts. We ended up sleeping on the floor of a friend of a friend for two nights. Her name was Rebecca, she took us out for an epic club-based jaunt, we cycled in the hutongs, gawped at the Forbidden City (apart from Spinks who reckoned it wasn’t grand enough – idiot) and took in the Bird’s Nest stadium. I’ve never seen Spinks so excited. His architecture boner was horrendous. While he explained in great excitement about the tree-points and structural symmetry of the great venue, we plotted our next stop – Pingyao.
It wasn’t easy getting here. First of all the tail-end of the typhoon caught up with us in Beijing. This meant we trapsed around the capital in sheets of rain and bolts of lightning. After eventually securing our train tickets we boarded our carriage after hours of fighhting through the packed ranks of passengers, only to be confronted with a carriage that would’ve been less busy if it had been used as a set in Enemy of the Gates. Sweating like sponges, we literally wrestled our way to our seats (spinks started laughing hysterically with the stress which was quite worrying) and remained fixed to the spot for fifteen un-air conditioned hours. Terrible doesn’t cover it. To cope, we drank plenty of whisky and performed some impromptu renditions of Robbie Williams songs to entertain the masses. The smiles were short-lived.
So now, in Pingyao, we seem to be a little stranded as all buses and trains are booked up. Oh, and G has a hernia (apparently). Wish us luck.