It’s true that you don’t really miss what you have until it’s gone, back home I don’t really go to the beach that often, but ever since I came to China I’ve been dying t
o see the ocean and now, during my fifth visit to China, it was finally time. Here is about my trip to Shanhaiguan 山海关and the ocean.
The day before I had gone to Beijing to meet up with my friend Miriam and have some dinner with her roommate and our friend Robert. We hadn’t really planned much for our trip, we just knew the time the train was leaving and that was it. Important notice: You always need to bring your passport if you want to travel somewhere in China, you’re not going anywhere otherwise. We took the train at 7 am from Beijing nan (the south train station) and the journey was scheduled to take two and a half hours. There weren’t that many people in our wagon, so we could spread out and try to get some sleep, which of course turned out to impossible, since everyone else were talking loudly on their cell phones. So, since we couldn’t sleep, we talked and had some fun while looking at the landscape outside. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t that good, it was quite foggy, but we hoped that it would be clearer in the afternoon. We arrived safe and sound and were immediately attacked by taxi drivers and people selling all kinds of souvenirs. In the end we got fed up and just told people we were going to Europe and if they didn’t know the way, they should just leave us alone. In the end we found the right bus and got of at the right stop. First phase was completed.
We arrived at a big entrance, bought our tickets and started walking around. The place had previously been a military defence post; there were still buildings left that showed what it had once looked like. The people were few, so we could take our time and just walk around and take pictures. The buildings were, to be honest, of little interest to us, so we headed straight for the ocean and the place were the Great Wall actually ends. The feeling you get when you see the ocean for the first time in a long time is indescribable. You just feel happy. Finally we could breathe some fresh air and dip our toes in the water. We were running around, shouting and jumping, guess I cannot blame Chinese people for thinking foreigners are crazy. We then sat down and tasted some local candy we had bought in a tiny store earlier, turned out it was a real jaw-breaker, so in the end we had to throw it into THE wall, in order to get some smaller pieces we could eat. We took a walk on the Wall and enjoyed the view over the ocean. We had actually planned to head for the mountain pass of the Wall as well, but since the weather still wasn’t good, we decided to head back to Beijing with an earlier train and leave Shanhaiguan. Like I mentioned earlier, it is practically impossible to sleep on trains in China, believe me I’ve tried. On our way back I ended up in a wagon with a guy who was singing to himself the ENTIRE journey, a guy who kept yawning loud enough to wake up the whole train, a guy who was watching a movie (without headphones of course), a group of people who were having a loud discussion about trains for 2,5 hours and finally but not least a woman who was snoring. Did I sleep? Don’t think so. When we arrived in Beijing we were both more than a little irritated and tired, the air was still quite bad so we pulled on our masks (mine bought just two days earlier, with a lovely pink colour) and headed home to sleep. It was heavenly.
The next day the air was actually good and the sun was shining, so we decided to walk around a bit and just enjoy the weather. We met with our friend Meiling at a Guangzhou restaurant, she and Miriam have decided to try food from every province in China and this time it was Guangzhou food. We had some fried lotus, meatball-looking tofu and pancakes with stuffing, tasty and well worth a visit. After lunch it was time to head back to Tianjin, so we said our goodbyes and I headed for the subway. While I was in the subway I saw the strangest thing; just opposite me there was a young couple sitting next to each other, now, the strange thing was that she was actually sucking on her boyfriend’s earlobe. WHY would you do that in the subway?? Nobody else seemed to think that this was a strange thing to do, which makes me wonder if this is something that happens all the time in the subway here in China? There really doesn’t seem to be any form of private life here at all. This little episode lasted until their stop came up, the girl simply wiped her mouth, tugged her boyfriend’s ear one last time and off they went. I’m too scared to think about what I will see next. What can I say? This is China, there’s never a dull moment.