Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Awesome Asia Adventure Day #7 - Lost in Zangzizhonglu

Dan working his magic with
the locals (and help of the Internet)
With our abrupt exit from Philippines we didn't have time to properly pack or print directions to hotel. So when we popped out of the Zangzizhonglu subway stop, we had no idea where/how to find our hostel. It was a coin toss to decide which way to go. We glanced at each other, turned right, and started dragging our roll on luggage down the street.

The next hour was spent strolling down blind alleys past small shops and restaurants, drinking in the sights, sounds, and smells of this strange place and looking the Dragon Hostel or someone that might speak a lick of English. Along the way there were so many locals who tried to help us by walking us across town to find someone who might know a lick of English, or to find some random small hotel (our bags were universal language for someone needing a place to stay). Some just wanted to practice their English (“hello” was the extent of it).

Our home for the next three nights
Eventually we met our lifeline. He was huge weathered fellow who had just parked his motorcycle in a narrow alley. He had shoulder length hair and was wearing glacier goggles and a long dusty trench coat. I will call him “Mad Max." Max spoke English and used his smartphone to point us in the other direction and we soon found Dragon Hostel tucked about a 100 yards down another dusty alley, and received a lovely warm welcome from the bi-lingual kids running the hostel.

This would be the winning formula for the next few days in Beijing - avoiding the safety of tour guides and western establishments - eating, drinking, putting ourselves in challenging situations and generally hanging out with the locals. I've done this sort of thing before in Europe but never in an environment as alien (to me) as Asia. It guarantees a vacation full of surprises and indelible memories and this week would be no exception.


"Keep riding, Nancy. It's just water and dirt." 
     -- Huck And Roll

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