“I arrived in the beautiful area of Qinhuangdao called Beidaihe. Most famous for hosting top-secret political meetings for the Chinese Communist Party. When I saw the place, I quickly knew why they chose to go here only a few hours from Beijing with the fast train. The beaches are white, the sky is blue, and the fresh air is such a great change from Beijing’s pollution. Furthermore, the place is also much more laid-back than the bustling metropolis.
The town is made for tourists, but as I read forehand, mostly Chinese tourists go there. I do understand why now. I’d booked a hotel but when arriving at the reception, they looked weird at me. After a moment they explained that they didn’t have the needed certificate to host foreigners. I had only heard about this phenomenon but this was back in the days, like ten years ago, when China was only on its way to open for the rest of the world. It was weird though because the whole town was translated into Russian and they gave me more leaflets with Russian buffets written in Russian.
Anyway, these Russians must be rich because I soon realized, after asking at four other affordable hotels, that I could only go to the expensive ones. “Stupid Chinese” was I thinking at that time. Me being tired, hungry and warm weren’t a great combination to go hunting a place to stay. I was getting annoyed by these people, and I felt like a criminal when they turned me down.
I’ve always seen my foreign heritage as being a benefit in China but suddenly it became a disadvantage. That was weird. Anyway, I chose to take the bus to another part of the town because I was leaving next morning anyway, so I left the town, found an affordable hotel in the center and now I’m on my way again. I still had to pay triple of the original price for Chinese but I’ll try to forget about it because I did have hot water, Internet and a great sleep because no bed bucks or cockroaches disturbed me.”
Published first time on my other blog, Lenakina.tumblr.com on May 21, 2015.
Earlier this year, I went on a short trip to a little town outside of the noisy buzz of Beijing, just besides the sea. I was excited but when I realized that nobody would take me in because of my foreign face, I started thinking. How can I pass on this information so none of my IRL and URL friends bump into this issue on their way around China too?
Well, my answer is that first and foremost it is important to always order a hostel or hotel through an English-speaking website. I sometimes forget that my phone is in Chinese, so I just order and they think I’m Chinese because of this. This is no good when I show up and my blue eyes are shining bright in the light from the hotel lamp. So remember this my friends, book from Booking.com or Hostelworld to make sure that you have the right to stay in the hotel.
Luckily, I’ve only encountered this problem twice on my trips around China. I assume it’s the international cities where the problem is. Usually, when I travel to remote areas, people just take the cash and show me the room. They probably haven’t seen police around for a long time and if they show up, I don’t even think the police would know what to do (Have tried before how the police came to me and a friend because of a complaint from another lady at a buffet and they literally said they couldn’t take us anywhere because we have foreign passports and they don’t know what to do, soooo).
Actually, when traveling around China, you might as well just grab one of the cheap hotel rooms offered at the bus and train stations. You can always bargain the price and get a good offer without too much trouble. Also, the person will follow you to their hotel so you won’t get lost in a new city because you can’t find the hotel you booked. But just as a reminder, I’ll let you know that this way of traveling in China requires a certain amount of Mandarin. But that’s just another great excuse to learn this pretty and super useful language, right? Let’s get to it! 🙂