The Fun Begins – Leo’s Kingdom 3
After 20+ hours of travel fun I arrive in China. The flight to Beijing is actually much shorter than my flights to Hong Kong at only 12 hours. Because in the US, I don’t live near a major hub I actually spend almost as much time flying in the States as to China.
Everybody has their own way to cope with these flights. My only advice would be to bring good reading material, “I keep mine in a Samsung tablet”, some good music and pain killers…
Once on the ground I start looking around for my new co-worker, Douglas K May. We have never met but I do have his number and eventually I notice a tall distinguished gent looking around as well.
Right off I know we will get along. We talk about the flight and spend some time good-naturedly complaining about the state of the world and airport security. Its getting late but the airport is still crowded. After getting through customs and grabbing out luggage its off to the taxi area as we must now make our way to Beijing Xie ” west ” train station where we are to meet up with Jake Park our new employer…
Upon exiting the station we are greeted by a really long line at the taxi station, this is not good since time is already tight. Immediately we are approached by a Black Car driver or as called in Taiwan a” Wild Chicken”. This is an unregistered taxi, they are everywhere in China and sometimes may be your only real choice for a ride.
Generally speaking it’s not advisable, there is the real danger of being stolen from abandoned somewhere or even hurt. Almost always you will pay more than a real cab will charge unless you have a native along to barter. I know better, but its late and we have to get to the train and there isn’t much chance of somebody trying to get fresh with me and Doug.
The guy has a van it’s actually pretty nice inside and except for this driver being the only one in Beijing that believes in the speed limit, we are on our way. The trouble is you have no recourse with these unregistered guys, when we arrive at the train we are about 30 min late, and the guy wants 600 RMB, that’s about 5 times what it should cost but truth is we don’t have time to f$%k around so we pay the thief and we have arrived.
We find Jake near the entrance to the train station with him is another westerner, Chris Stuart, Vice President of DPI. Chris and Jake are both friendly if a bit harried as we really are late now and must attempt to get the last train tonight or its a stay in Beijing for the night. We rush inside and make our way towards window 16 which sports the most appreciated ” English Speaking ” sign above it. This is my first trip to the Beijing train station and its massive, crowded even at 10pm. Chris pushes his way to the window while we watch our bags, it seems there may be an issue as it appears the ticket lady is yelling ” LISTEN TO ME!!! “. A smiling Chris later explains she was refusing to sell us tickets for the last train as in her opinion we could not have made it to the train in the 20 min we had till departure.
Looks like we are here for the night so we decide to get a room at the nearest hotel and grab a bite for dinner. Jake get’ s us checked in at a hotel right next door. By this time I am seriously fading so my recollection of the rest of the night is pretty much a blur. I know we ate, I don’t know what it was, I know I slept but I don’t remember even going back to the room. Jet lag is funny, I have had it most times I come here in various amounts but this trip was special. The feeling is really disconcerting as you simply begin to crash and there is no way ” without chemicals ” to stop it, one min you are up then next you are down…
Morning rolls around and we make our way to the station to try again. Luckily the high speed rail is very efficient here and a train heads for our destination on the hour.
We purchase business class tickets, definitely worth the money, especially if you are carrying any luggage and the price is still reasonable. I believe our tickets are around $60 USD and as you can see from the pics the accommodation is very nice.
So far I am feeling pretty good about this gig, Doug who will be heading the team as Creative Director is really cool, I realize while sitting in the train next to him that with my eyes closed he sounds just like the guy who appears in all the Mens Warehouse commercials back in the States.
It turns out he actually was an actor for television and even did some modeling in his early days.
Jake is nice his english is good if a bit hesitant, I can see why Danilo likes him and he is right around my age I figure we will get along just fine.
Chris is fun, within 20 min of meeting him I know quite a bit about him and can tell he is a genuinely fine human being, he is around Doug’s age but seems much older, maybe it’s the 8 children and 30 something grand kids :). Interestingly Chris speaks fluent Korean which would make sense as DPI is a Korean company.
Next stop Shijiazhuang…