Saturday, 19 October 2013

Golden days for a Golden Week...

Ok, very cheesy title, I know, but I'm a tad sleep deprived at the moment and that combined with the maple syrup I consumed earlier today (not straight from the bottle, just so you know...), means my brain feels a bit fried right now.

So from 1st October to the 7th October, we had a whole seven glorious days off work - Whoop! Unfortunately, due to the fact that TTC are simply stupid, we don't get paid til 15th October, which means I had no money at all to go and explore China. I don't know who's bright idea it was to say that interns shouldn't get paid til the 15th, and only then get paid for four weeks work instead of the six weeks we've already done, but I was not a happy bunny when I found out (there's also a whole other load of issues as to why TTC aren't in my good books right now, but I'll save that for another time!).

Anyway, due to my financial situation, it meant I had to sit tight in Beijing for the week. Luckily, Kristen (my fellow intern that I met in Shanghai before the internship began) decided to come up to Beijing to see me – plus, Alan was due to fly out to Beijing on the 4th October – so at least I wouldn't be completely alone for the whole holiday!

Kristen arrived at 12.30am on the 3rd (which meant we had a very interesting taxi ride back to my flat at 2.30am...) - we were planning to go to the Beijing Police Museum that day, but due to a combination of oversleeping, having a late lunch at McDonalds and then the loooong journey from my district to the centre of town, we made it to the museum just in time to see them closing the doors! So instead, we walked up to Tiananmen Square, which was heaving with crowds because of the holiday, and we managed to see the flag parade – every day at sunrise and sunset they raise/lower the flag that's at the top of the square. It was quite cool to see – especially seeing all the soldiers marching in perfect time!

The next day, Kristen went to the hostel where she'd be staying for the rest of the holiday, and I went to meet Alan at the airport. We got a taxi to the hotel we were staying at for the weekend (again, a very interesting taxi ride, as the taxi driver wasn't entirely, sure where to go) but we managed to get there in one piece. We didn't venture far for the rest of the day, as Alan was feeling a bit tired from jet-lag. The next day however, we met up with Kristen and we went to explore the Forbidden City. Me and Al were approached twice by different people who offered to be our guide and take us round the Forbidden City (for a small sum, of course), but we declined their offers – then a PhD student asked me to fill in a questionnaire about tourism in Beijing and gave me a good luck charm to say thank you! We were supposed to be meeting James as well, but the Forbidden City is just so huge, we couldn't find him! Luckily we found him by the exit and we went out for a meal together – it was only when we'd finished our meal that we discovered we'd been to a Tibetan restaurant! The food was amazing!

Unfortunately, I came down with a horrible flu-like thing the next day, so again, me and Alan couldn't venture very far! So for the next few days, we just took it easy, and managed to make it back to my flat – as I live in a fairly new development, taxi drivers have real trouble finding it – luckily for us, this taxi driver managed to get us to my nearest subway station, and I managed to direct him to my flat in a mixture of English/Chinese. He didn't seem to mind – he started laughing whenever I tried to say 'straight on' in Chinese, but he did try to teach me some directions in Chinese! He also stopped his meter when it got to 70 yuan, bless him!

So that was pretty much it for Golden Week – not quite as crazy as some of the intern stories I've heard since, but it was lovely to see Kristen and Alan again, and to be honest, it was nice to take a break and do everything at my own pace! On the downside, that's the last long holiday we get until the Chinese New Year now – we get a day off for Christmas and three days off at New Year, but no doubt we'll have to make up those days off somewhere! Still, I've worked out that I've been in China for about 9 weeks now (where has the time gone?!) and there's only another 13 weeks left til I finish the internship!! Time really does fly!

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