Well, less than 3 weeks 'til my adventure to China! I am getting super excited!!! However, there have been a few issues that arose recently.
The main thing was that I wanted to do a trip to the Great Wall. There are many ways to do this, and I had found a great hike that promised to be exciting. However, it was leaving at 8:30am from the NE corner of Beijing, and my host from CouchSurfing lived in the south, about 2 hours away by public transportation. Additionally, she is 3 hours from the airport, and I have a morning flight on Tuesday. Both of those things combined, I decided to look for other accommodations. :( She was understanding and offered to still be of assistance if I needed anything in Beijing.
I messaged a few other CouchSurfers since I really liked the idea of staying with real people and having someone to ask questions of, etc. But so far, everyone is either out of town or not responding. So, I decided to put myself out of my misery (I hate not having something planned) and booked a hostel. I got one with very high ratings and very cheap rates. The equivalent of $11.25 per night in an all-female room, most things included. It is very near the central downtown area of Beijing, so I could have great access to the main sites plus the subway system. I had to pay 10% in advance, so about $3.75 (3 nights). I figured, even if I decided to stay with a CouchSurfer, I'd only lose less than $4, but at least this way I have something secured when I arrive.
The other thing was that the hike I was liking seemed to be much more of a HIKE than an excursion to see the Great Wall. While I do think I would enjoy it, this is vacation and I think I'd prefer to have a relaxing time of it, rather than a strenuous workout (call me lazy...). So, that means I could look at other tours (each easily over $100 a pop), or take a taxi by myself and go at my own leisure. The taxis are available to take for the day at a pre-determined rate (usually half of what the metered fare would be), and they'll wait for you as long as you need. Additionally, the part of the wall I am interested in going to is not as crowded with tourists, it has a cable car to the towers, and you can take a toboggan slide down!!! I mean, how COOL to say I took a slide down the Great Wall of China!!! The only downside to this plan is that I'd probably go it alone. I'd kinda like to make a friend or two.
So, I am trying to loosen my controlling grip and going with the flow. I posted on CouchSurfing if anyone is interested in doing a Great Wall trip, and I'll see if anyone responds. And, maybe I'll meet someone at the hostel who would be down. I'm sure I'll meet someone there...
CouchSurfing is also putting together a Chinese New Year party that I signed up for. I am looking forward to that, since it will consist of a meal, party, and fireworks. I watched the video from last year's Chinese New Year and man, the Chinese do it big! So many fireworks. I am SO EXCITED to witness it!!!!! It's like being in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, or at Times Square for the ball dropping. Or even Rio for Carnival! (Okay, maybe not that crazy...).
I also found out that the largest Apple store in Asia is only about a 15 minute walk from my hostel. So, of course, I'll be making a pilgrimage there. :D I am really excited! I only wish I had a good friend going with me, but I think it will be a great experience to fend for myself completely in a totally new country. T-minus 20 days!!!!