Beijing – The Hostel & First Night

We had made reservations at Jade Hostel, which is in downtown and very close to the Forbidden City, Tianenmen Square and shopping areas. I have stayed in hostels and small hotels before, so I had a pretty good idea what it would be like – bunk beds and shared bathrooms. Indeed, we did have a four bed room with bunk beds and there were shared bathrooms, but the whole place was a lot nicer than I expected.

There was a large room which served as a Western-style restaurant and lounging area with a TV, stereo, DVD player and a fusball table. It was very clean and quiet. (Well, except when our large group was making noise!)

At the hostel we met up with some of the other instructors who also came to Beijing to celebrate the New Year, another 8 or so. What a group. Everyone knows that pilots are crazy, right? I briefly thought, just what the heck am I getting myself into, going out with a bunch of pilots? I considered staying at the hotel and making it a very early evening, but I was in Beijing and you just don’t want to miss out on any opportunity to see the city, so after eating in the hostel, we all went out to find some fun.

Other instructors had told us that a fun place to go is the San Li Tun bar street, a whole street lined with, you guessed it, bars. So we took a taxi there. Indeed, the street was lined with about 20 bars, each one with a pushy Chinese guy outside trying to get the Western tourists in the door of their respective bar. It was actually very interesting to hear some of their lines. “Come in, Happy Hour, Cheap…”

We were there at like 9PM, which is evidently very early because there were not very many people. This meant that the guys were trying extra hard to get us to go into each bar. We did go into a few, the ones that had girls singing, I did mention I was out with 12 guys, right? Well, it turns out that every girl band that was singing was absolutely awful. They just kind of swayed back and forth and sang very pop-y music. We were about to give up when we found a very little cafe, with only about 4 tables. It was very cozy and was playing good music – U2, etc. Our big group piled in and proceeded to pull in all kinds of Westerners that we saw on the street. Eventually, the place was filled with ~ 10 flight instructors, a group of English teachers from Japan and South Korea, and I think, some ambassador’s kids. For about 2 hours, that little place became a goldmine.

That night, back at the hostel, I was worried that I would keep everyone awake with my occasional coughing. Little did I know that I was staying in a room with 3 bears. It was as if they had planned ahead, deciding who would snore for when and how long, as none of them actually snored at the same time, thank goodness, I really couldn’t handle an entire bear choir. Somehow, I managed to get some sleep.

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