So when I had the opportunity to teach a class at a university in Beijing last July, the little Chinese-style hotel across from the campus became my home sweet home. Having seen all the major sites on previous visits I spent much time in my room writing. However, when I did go out, I usually got myself into some kind of trouble. By my second week, I was ready to go on a longer venture away from my neighborhood.
|The entrance to the neighborhood. The traffic barriers are new.|
|The street from the subway station to the park.|
Then I walked about three miles over to Wangfujing street, the big tourist shopping area and browsed the book and music sections of the store I always go to there. (Last summer, I was accosted in the mall there by an "art hooker" who lured me into an art store to sell me art, which you can read about here.) Sadly, I found little to buy. I was getting tired of standing and/or walking, too.
|Entrance gate to Tuanjiehu Park on a rainy day.|
The neighborhood looked different but that did not alarm me. I thought it was simply that the trees had grown out. I walked on, thinking I was going the right direction. Then I realized I was going in the wrong direction but I thought I would meet up with a cross street that would lead me back to the hotel's street.
So I kept walking, my feet getting more sore and my hip joint starting to ache - because, as everyone knows, you tend to get older when you keep walking farther and farther away from your destination. By then, I was moving myself solely from sheer willpower, as the evening started to darken.
I got to the next big intersection - another one - and saw the signs of the avenues in each direction and found them on the map. I realized then that I was even farther away from my hotel. It was maddening! It seemed that none of the directions would be the right direction. I looked at the people strolling past me. I stared at my map. I wondered how I might ask for directions, not knowing any of the right words. I considered if I held up my map they would get the idea I was lost. But none of the people passing me looked like the right person to stop and ask.
I sat on a bench there along the sidewalk for a few minutes. I was just about out of walking for the day. Although I did not count my steps, like some fitness fanatics might do, I knew when I had reached my limit. I had to save 15 of them to actually walk through the lobby of the hotel and get on the elevator up to my precious room 424.
So I flagged down a taxi and showed the driver the card from the hotel which had a map on it. Thank goodness I kept that card inside my passport! The driver got the directions from that little map and took me to the hotel. I saw later that I had been getting close to the Beijing Olympic Park!
I stepped out of the taxi a block from the hotel, where there was a place to pull over. Thankfully, that put me right by the 7-Eleven store where I usually bought my drinks and snacks. So I got some drinks and snacks. I also got myself an ice cream bar, because I deserved to be pampered after all the stress I'd endured in the 90 minutes between exiting that subway station and stepping out of that taxi.
I was sure glad to be home! Kinda embarrassing getting lost in the big city - more so when you actually have a map in your hand!
Sorry, I didn't feel like taking pictures while I was desperately lost so all I have are the pictures from earlier in the day (Tuanjiehu Park). The ice cream bar was good.
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