The Beijing Narrative: The Pilgrim And The Puritan

I woke up this morning with an epiphany, and feeling rather tired.

I’ll admit I was woke up by a British couple who were whisper-arguing YET AGAIN… I had conversed with the girlfriend yesterday, telling her about certain things such as mounting a journey to the Great Wall by public transport… Things that I was able to do for a fraction of the cost… But the boyfriend wouldn’t have any of it, insisting that a 200 Yuan per person tour to just visit Badaling would be more reliable. Unbeknownst to them, it does not include the pulley, admission and insurance to climb the Great Wall. The tour group would however procure these tickets for you, and sell you at vastly marked up prices, taking the whole total to 1000 Yuan per person, that’s about SGD200! How did I know these things? Well, firstly, Lonely Planet and secondly, understanding Mandarin has its perks. The parasitic unofficial bus conductor/guide seemed like the no-nonsense all facts kinda person.

Anyway, she was suggesting doing it my way (I was still “asleep”) and was scolded pretty badly for it. I surmise that this Tran-Siberian trip is all the world to him, while the only reason why she agreed to come is for her much wealthier medical science-based boyfriend. While I wanted to side her, the boyfriend listed instances in the various cities which she had “kept doing this”… Spoil spot, really. I’m not siding him either – he had left her at the hostel to explore Beijing on his own for 3 whole half-days. He leaves early to grab some local breakfast, then they go out searching for western breakfasts for her. It’s a real test of the relationship. Am I in a position to say whether they should break up? Never. As I mentioned, a relationship is all about committing to one another through thick and thin. They’ve been on the trip for 3 months now,  6 more weeks in China, then it’s back to London.

Determined to have a positive or at least, an indifferent or neutral impression of Beijing’s underground yet not very underground gay scene, I took a cab to visit SoBear, a gay pub last evening. However, it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop, and I was like, “this can’t be it”. At the same time, I was tired and just wanted to go back to the hostel to sleep. However, with none available in sight, and willing hitches demanding too high a fare, I decided not to wait, and walked back the 10 or so kilometres via Gongti Xi Lu, a.k.a. Destination. Honestly, even though it was a well thought through, it wasn’t the best idea in the world with the cold and darkness (Beijing can be rather dark and silent after 10pm). Even with my seasoned Aldo, which had cooperated all this while, was like “Fuck this shit” and started giving me feet aches. I went to Destination, people-watched as I sipped my Long Island Ice Tea, then took a cab back.

Back to my epiphany.

I realized that being in a relationship isn’t some tag. It’s a relationship one builds with another, to commit to each other and to be with another, albeit with some private time too. The closest I had any semblance of that was with my second ex and Jsen. I shouldn’t have to fly 7 hours to a city I barely know and explore it alone… if I had a boyfriend. If Andy’s not here physically nor missing and texting me, then I really shouldn’t lay my love on him. No point thinking, harping or wishing the things that never were. It might sound stupid to you, but it makes a lot of sense to me… at that time anyways. The epiphany really gave me remarkable clarity. So what happens now? I’ll return to Singapore. I’ll focus on closing Vol. 008, gym more and start again on Grindr and Trevvy where I’ll take less offense from rejection. At the same time, I’ll explore headhunting firms for a job overseas, then mid next year, begin going for cabin crew interviews as well. I won’t be sidetracked by emotional troughs, I can’t allow myself to. I’ve little time left, 24, and not getting any younger.

I kinda saw what I wanted to see in Beijing already. Of course, there was the Summer Palace, as well as the Holland Village-Clarke Quay equivalent, but the thing is, the idea of living in a city where everywhere you look is something historic, you also get numb to its being. It doesn’t help that the early winter light does little to enhance the scenery. It reminds me of Korea when I visited twice consecutively back in the day before the Korean wave was cool – dull, decomposing and all drab. One place that intrigued me besides Beijing T3, the Olympic venues, was The Egg so I resolved to visit it and boy was it awe-inspiring from both the inside and out.

(Below) The pictures are completely unedited. I just didn’t think it was necessary.

After that, taking the advice of my seat mate, I went to visit Hongqiao market, aka, a shopping mall which was such a tourist trap that the locals shun it. I can definitely see why she likes “Beijing” – the Beijing she loves is the Beijing that the government is hoping to portray – a modern cosmopolitan metropolis with easy access to home, work and play without the premium prices that is usually associated with this kind of living. So yup, I’ve wound down my sightseeing, chilling in my room all alone… It’s 12 deg Celsius and the mercury’s expected to race down to 5. Not the coldest I’ve experienced so far, but still pretty cool 😉

I miss Andy, still.


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