Leo was all excited we had been asked to go away for the weekend sailing.
I, on the other hand was quite hesitant.
You see, when we lived in Yeppoon we had these beautiful neighbours that would take us sailing in their yacht most weeks. Mark would say to me, "Sit there and look like a princess" and off we would sail. This was my type of sailing, I loved the quietness and the wind in my hair.
We would set the lines out the back of the boat and most days catch the most amazing fish.
Leo wondered why I wasn't excited about going sailing.
I asked whether there was going to be a bathroom on this sailing boat we were going on.
"Hell no", was his answer.
So I had every reason to be hesitant about the weekend, this wasn't the type of sailing I was accustomed to.
It was, however an excuse to get to the beach and go somewhere in China I hadn't been before so off we went to Beidaihe in Hebei Province. It took 2 hours by fast train.
We checked in to our accommodation which was quite nice with a view looking out to the ocean. Like a lot of places in China though so much seemed to still be under construction.
Lunch was Chinese, boarding school style which made me feel a little homesick. Where was the fish n chips?
Just a nice 5 minute walk to the beach where the sand was beautiful and clean, it had been brought in from somewhere.
I chose my spot for the afternoon and the others set off sailing. I was sitting there for a bit when this woman came over raving on to me. I told her in Chinese that I didn't understand but of course she didn't understand my Chinese and then starts waving an apartment key at me. I was losing my patience with her so waved my key back at her and she happily walked away. I then realized it was a private beach just for the people that were staying in the apartments we were staying in.
As the others sailed by I was glad I stuck to my guns and said I wouldn't sail as I don't know how I would have fit on the boat anyway.
We were told to bring our own alcohol if you didn't like beer or baijiu so we brought a couple of bottles of wine and had sundowners in this lovely little gazebo in the garden of our apartment complex. We didn't bring wine glasses though so had to drink out of tea cups from the room. With nothing western in sight there were no cheese and crackers so we know to bring them along next time as well.
That night we got a didi (uber) into town to go to a Seafood Restaurant. Our friend ordered crabs, chilli prawns, calamari and steamed seafood for us to try. Seafood in China kind of scares me so I was pretty cautious about what I ate. Leo on the other hand was starving after the afternoon of sailing and was hoeing in.
They were having trouble getting in to the crabs so they called for the waiter to see if he had some crab tools. The waiter came over puffing on a cigarette and told us no they didn't have tools so they just had to kind of smash them against the table.
I was glad I decided to pass on the crabs when their plates began to fill up with green slime, the crabs still had their insides in but apparently they were absolutely delicious.
Leo made friends with the men on the next table and they all wanted to toast and drink with him so it was ganbei all round which means you have to skull your whole glass each toast.
We woke at about 3am and I said to Leo, "I can't believe we are still alive".
He said, "Don't get too f)*^&king excited yet.
Next morning we met our friends for breakfast and asked if there was any chance we could find something western to eat. We went to a cafe and Leo said, "Surely they have an egg".
They didn't have an egg but they did make us a bacon sandwich and they had great coffee so that was good, we were going to survive.
It was drizzling rain so we spent the day looking at boats, houses and villas.
Leo was able to get the fast train straight back to the farm rather than coming back to Beijing and then having to turn around and go to the farm so he set off mid afternoon. Our train was 2 hours later so we decided to go for a coffee. Time slipped away until eventually I said, "Do you think we should go to the train station?"
Unfortunately I didn't speak up early enough though and we missed the train.
By this stage I was homesick for Beijing and nearly burst out crying but had to give myself a quick talking to.
We had 3 options:
1. Stay another night
2. Hop on an overnight slow train (standing room only) to Beijing and get back at 5am the next morning
3. Hop on a slow train to Tianjin (standing room only) and then a fast train to Beijing arriving 11pm.
We decided to take the third option and were lucky to get a seat in the dining carriage.
The slow trains aren't flash like the high speed trains. It was pretty crowded with a lot of people having standing only tickets. We chugged along to Tianjin which took us 4 hours and my eyes were stinging by the time we got there as most people were smoking.
From Tianjin to Beijing it was then a quick 30 minute ride. It was good to be back on the high speed train and I was over the moon to be back in Beijing.
The adventure wasn't over yet though. It was after 11pm which meant that the subway had stopped running. We lined up for a taxi, the line was so long I could not see the end of it. We also ordered a didi and were going to see which came first only to find we were 200th in the queue. Another moment when I nearly started crying and had to give myself a talking to.
The didi driver suggested we start walking down the road and that might make it easier for us to eventually meet. Eventually we did meet and I got home at 1.45am.
So there you have it, a beach weekend in China. I'm sure it would be wonderful if I wasn't totally spoilt by being a Queenslander.