Travel Solo: My Experience with Accidental Solo Trip In Beijing(Part 2)
Just in case you have not read Part 1
Silk Route Market
There was this great market called silk street/route market 20 minutes from my hotel, I enjoy bargaining and thought I can buy some nice(and cheap ;) ) gifts for friends and family. I was looking to buy this cute little bouncing budda for my new car.
I bargained real hard and got the final price to 20 RMB( 3USD) after telling her that I am “Indu”(thats what People in China call Indians) and very poor. Before buying I wanted to confirm with my Mom because she gets a little upset with me for buying things for much higher price. See, I belong to a business community and buying the things at the right price is supposed to be in our blood. As I was sending the photo of the bounching budda to my mother, the sales girl had a look at her whatsapp “DP”. My mom I had visited my sister in London and my mom had changed her DP from one or the other religious gods(there are a lot of gods in India) to one standing in front of the BigBen to flaunt her first Trip outside India.
Immediately I heard the quirky broken english “You No Poor Indu”. I was like my 10 minutes hard work bargaining would go in vain now, I finally managed to buy 2 for 45 RMB. Phew :)
Forbidden City with Only Chinese Speaking friend
On Sunday I had a flight to Shenzen to visit Tencent one of our partners. I was supposed to visit them for a day, it was one of those visits to tell them yes we cant fix the issues that you are facing but see we are sending one of our engineers to visit you, you are very important for us, so please stick around :)
In the morning one of my young colleague from the beijing office was to come along with me and show me around, but there was just this one catch, he did not speak english. Actually the objective of us going together was that they thought this way he can learn english faster.
People in china use WeChat, they use it to chat, call and also pay. It has a great feature to translate(Something I hope gets added in Whatsapp also). We used that feature to talk to each other, and it was amazing fun to explore the great forbidden city and interact with my chinese friend.
He was really sweet and would latter take me out to an Indian resturerant for lunch as well. He used skype to talk to us and had written “My english is poor” as his title on skype. I told him to simply do a spelling mistake in the title and people would automatically figure out that his english is actually poor.
Missed My ferry
For our flights back home to India we take a ferry from Shenzen to the Hongkong Airport, I was not able to find a cab for close to 30 minutes, when I finally reached to buy ferry ticket the counter was closed, the next ferry was in 90 minutes but that would not be 2 hours before the flight, so they denied me giving ticket for the next ferry. At the time when you are about to board flight for home you are filled with expectations of the good home food and just a plain feel-good feeling of wrapping up work and going back home, and when this happened that I may not be able to board my plane, also how would I explain my manager that I could have done the stupidity of missing my flight(I had even finished all the “special” food stock I carried from India).
Someone who spook english told me to go the bus stop and take a bus to Hongkong Airport, Now in mission mode, I took the very next cab to the bus station, all next things had to happen fast and right at once for me to have made it to my plane back home, almost like in a movie. In the cab I called my china friend to be ready, I may call for help. I reached station, it was huge, could not find anyone who was willing to help and tell me where to go, I saw two women selling tickets for cabs to airport, I also wanted to be careful and take the most reliable and safest mode of transport to reach airport. Also one thing I could not figure out if they take us in a cab, where do they get immigration done.
So I went inside the big building to get a bus ticket instead and as there were no english sign boards and time running out. After getting a go ahead from my chinese friend, decided to take the cab. The price was half that of ferry, plus you get a better glimpse of the city of hongkong in the car. The immigration happened sitting in the car itself, I reached airport 1 hr 45 minutes before the flight, leaving me enough time to grab a snack as well.
Travelling solo is a one of the best experience one can have. It is so much more peaceful. You need to relia on your instincts and be confident and willing to talk to strangers. Also you only have yourself to blame. You are also “OK” with being bored, but then you would end up enjoying that old track on your phone much more, listening to it uninterruptedly. That pizza and beer sitting by yourself, enjoying that alone time, reflecting on things of the past and of the future.
You are open to interact with people, make new friends. Imagine travelling in a group and having other people join your table, that would rarely ever happen. Traveling in a group is fun too, but I would highly recommend everyone to travel solo at least once. It makes you grow and learn about yourself like nothing else can.
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