Last day of the trip today, and I’ve gotta say, it certainly was nice to wake up on the last morning in our “Seaview Gardens” hotel bed. Went down to the hotel restaurant to a great Chinese buffet, definitely the best breakfast of the trip and we also were able to order coffee and toast (not part of the buffet since we were the only foreigners and thus the only people in the hotel that would be interested). After packing up our stuff and sorting out directions, we were off.
I was a little worried about managing directions for this stretch since we got lost in Tianjin on the way down, but luckily we had a good game plan this time around as Amy navigated from the back seat. So with relatively open roads, no navigation problems, and good weather, we made great time into Beijing. It’s always a thrilling sensation starting to see signs for your final destination and seeing the signs for the 6th Ring Road of Beijing was no different. What was the most surprising though was upon entering the city limits of Beijing how relatively relaxing the driving felt. Though drivers were still pretty pushy, and the traffic was actually much denser, everyone overall seemed to be generally more competent. There was no fear of being obnoxiously pushed out of my lane, cars coming the wrong way down the highway, and road rules were (for the most part) followed. This isn’t to say that Beijing drivers are by any means good, far from it, but this trip down the East Coast of China has certainly given me a great appreciation for the drivers here compared to what I could be dealing with.
Overall, it’s funny to think what a haven of “western” “civilization” Beijing has become in China. As we were nearing the end of the trip, I started to relate the anticipation of being back in Beijing to the sensation every ex-pat in China is familiar with before they return to their home country. The feeling of looking forward to returning to a sense of normalcy, the comfort of not being stared at everywhere you go, having a higher standard of cleanliness, and also having access to certain Western luxuries such as food, English language TV programs, and an Apple Store! God Bless Beijing! (uh…)
One little treat is that on the final approach, as we were already within the 6th ring, a couple of Harley bikes caught up with me and I managed to ride along with them for a little while, even overtaking them at one point. I don’t think they were as excited as I was, but oh well, I got a video of them anyway!
The real unfortunate thing is the holiday schedule in China, which is that after a nice long holiday like the one we just had, you have to make up for some of the time lost from work. So after getting back today on Friday, tomorrow it’s back to work! That’s right, work on the weekend, which also consequentially means a 7 day work week. Nothing better after an exhausting vacation right? 🙂