BEIJING: Day 192, Sunday March 09 2014

We are on our way to Beijing to meet up with Meiqi! So excited! As we were waiting in line at the security gate we could hear the automated voices say “please stand firmly and hold the handrail,” again and again in a strong British accent. We purposefully didn’t hold the handrail, I know, what rebels we are.

We found the hutong where the hostel was apparently located. It was a dark and narrow street, but was populated enough, though we wondered how Meiqi would have fared wandering down it on her own. We walked from one end of the ally to the other keeping a diligent watch for our hostel, but it seemed not to exist. Thinking we had gone down the wrong road we continued on to the next hutong and the next, but when we stopped to ask directions we were sent back the way we’d come. When we returned to the ally we began looking for building numbers to mark our exact location. We found the building but it had no signs marking it as a hostel, only a brief blurb about swipe keys. No one answered when we knocked.

We were tired and hungry, and I had been so excited and anxious to see Meiqi, but now that energy began to turn to anxiety. Was Meiqi inside? Had she been able to find the place? Had she been able to get in? What would we do if we couldn’t get in and couldn’t contact her? I could still hear her voice over Skype in the confusion of hostel booking while I stared at the contact page on the website trying to make sense of it. “I’m not staying at the main, but it’s the same address as the West.” the West was the one listed in lonely planet. We found a source of internet so I could check messages from her.

Meiqi had specifically told me she was not staying at the East location, but when I got hold of her, the addresses weren’t matching up. Lonely Planet is growing more and more frustrating by the minute. The Lonely Planet guide had a map with the East hostel listed. A tiny map only written on in pinyin. No other address or information, just that little dot. When we showed it to the cab driver he didn’t have a clue where to go. We ended up directing him in what we thought was the right direction, and by some miracle we found it!

I had just begun to ask about Meiqi when a head full of blond waves bounced around the corner “MEIQIIII!” I squealed embracing her.

“Sshhh, people are sleeping.”

“Meiqiiii!” I whispered.

She’d already brushed her teeth, but we convinced her to come out for some bbq anyways. She seemed impressed at our skills at ordering, and enjoyed the charred meat.

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