Cleaning out some files in the garage, I came across this letter. I must have written it not long after arriving in Beijing via the trans-Siberian railway in June of 1989, expecting that my friends would be coming soon after. It appears here mildly edited.
Dear J & M –
Important Beijing things that Lonely Planet forgot:
- When you come out of train station, you are facing north.
- Bus 20 is impossible to find.
- Nobody speaks English.
- Go to the Jing Tai hotel. Business card is enclosed. Just give it to a taxi driver.
- If the Jing Tai is full, try the Yong Ding Men just down the street.
- Get the blue map they sell at the train station.
- Find the Friendship Store. It’s east of the Forbidden City. Directly across from the Friendship Store is a bike rental. It’s in a little street & has a sign that says “BUSINESS ITEMS.” 5 yuan per day, 200 yuan deposit.
- Best place to change money is at the green stalls 200 yards or so east of the Friendship Store. Face the Friendship Store. Turn right. Start walking. You’ll see them on your left.
- If you decide to go through Pakistan, get Pakistani and Indian visas both in Beijing. Here it takes two days; in Hong Kong, ten.
- Enclosed note in Chinese says: “We would like to take a Chinese tour of the great wall. What time should we be here in the morning?” Go to the green shed outside the Chongwenmen Hotel.
- Hepatitis B & Japanese Encephalitis vaccinations can be gotten at the Sino-German co-op policlinic in Moscow. Ask at the U.S. Embassy for a map. Shanghai is rumored to have outbreak now.
- Tibet is closed.
- “Mee fan” means rice, “peetyo” means beer.
- Stay at the sun House in Tower B of Chngking Mansions in Hong Kong. The guy is really nice.
- Figure the rest out on your own.
- One more thing: Enclosed Chinese note B says, “How do I get to Bus 25″ and “I want to go to the wharf to buy tickets to Hong Kong. PLEASE HELP ME.”
If I ever get back to China, I plan to take this list and see whether any of it is still true.