I woke up “Hangover in Beijing” I feel like some one just knocked me the F@*k out. My jaw hurts. —What the… why my two front teeth are chipped?— I ask myself looking at the mirror and feeling high. —Keith, did you knocked me out last night? What happened? — I don’t feel hangover, I think I am still drunk. I got ready; I have to meet Iza and Cédric at 2pm next to the Hammer statues in Tian’an Men Square. Quickly I get dress and I get caught looking for my shoes. —Where the F@*k are my shoes??? Frustrated I grab the Havaianas instead and run to the “office” (back yard with internet) I inform the two that I am running 1hr late. Belly feeling empty I grabbed the green-been ice cream from the fridge and started licking.
Sharp pain pierst through my right side. —What happened last night? — I try to dig deeper into the black-out memory due to drinking 5 shots of absinthe and countless gulps of the best Guyanese rum found in Beijing. We were celebrating our big night with Keith and Cédric, one and a half year of travel.
I was relieved when I learned that the two lovebirds (Iza and Cédric ) are also feeling same and postponing the meeting to later hours.
—Keith, hi, how are you? Sorry about last night, I don’t remember what happened but can you please ask your boss for the nearest dentist. I really need to get these teeth fixed — I write him an email, while looking at my two chipped front teeth in the bathroom mirror.
—Ha ha ha ha and 是这个直 — is the only thing I heard while looking at the Chinese dentist from below, who didn’t’ speak a word of English and asked all the working assistance to look at my teeth while he was applying the fill in. Scary shit.
Now, my teeth are fixed, but my jaw sure still hurts!
— Lets grab dumplings. Keith showed me the best and tastiest spot to have dumplings. — I sold the idea to Cédric and Iza after we finally reunited. We order a variety of dumplings and discuss the prior night’s events. I took a bite, and once again I felt this instance sharp pain.
— These dumplings taste goooo….— I felt hot flashes, I put my head on the table, I was feeling weird. I felt wet, my head felt heavy, my arms were wobbling, my feet started to shake and I tried to keep my eyes open. —AGA!!— Iza scream. My eyes opened a bit and I wanted to tell her to tell my mother that I love her, I wanted to tell her to take everything we did in the past year and a half and share it with the world, I wanted her to let all the people we know what we have experience and to tell them that life is amazing and not to take it for granted in any form. But I couldn’t, I was speechless, I saw flashes of my childhood, I saw myself playing in the forest and making potatoes in the fire. — OMG she is turning green— Iza continue to scream. — I felt my body sinking deep into the red zone a physical action of emotions I’ve never experiences before, not even on ayahouaska. If this is what dying is, then I felt it. I consciously, went to another world of decay and lost my soul. I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t move, I was dead/ fresh meat for the cannibals. All I though of was mom.
An ambulance was being called and the entire restaurant was curious and looking at the white girl turning green.
Five minutes in and strong vibes kicked in and helped me grant a second chance. I bounced back; covered in sweat feeling weak I became once again mobile and conscious.
—OMG, guys what the f@*k happened? I though I was dying. I felt my soul leaving my body, I saw you and I heard you but I couldn’t talk to you.— I was talking in shock and confusion — I feel better, no really I am good. Can you please bring me something wet and cold to put on my head.— I was in fear of loosing it again. — Did I almost die?
Sitting in one of Beijing’s dumpling house flashing through my life I had a wake up call. I was granted a second chance, a chance of realization that no matter how strong I feel I am still just a fragile human being with a quick snap I can be gone.
Few hours and days prior.
This place looks like Gothem City.— Said Cédric after coming to Keith’s place on his last day. Well said, I agree an apartment complex for the upper class with a twist where the retirement lives on along with Keith. Marble floors, fancy trimmings, internal AC rooms and creative lighting are just few of his habitat’s powers. Keith, the American Batman who flew from Austin, Texas to make some moves in his life. He left everything behind for a new life and opportunity to become a war journalist, just like his grandfather that captured the real black and white during the Vietnam War.
What are we doing here? Or, what am I doing here? For the first time the two Hot Toddies are separated. Iza is spending a week with Cédric, a backpacker who she met in Vietnam, fooled around on the train and changed our travel plans to come and meet him in Beijing for a week. — I think she likes him. — Leaving me, to fetch around and find my own way. So I found a new friend, Keith, a younger body with a grown up mentality, who hosts on Couch Surfing. He is the Batman on crack, which can’t say no to anything and surely has the energy to create a serious story.
I walk through 798 an art district in Beijing, where endless art galleries overflow my image of reality. It’s a place of concept and design just like my journey. I walk, think, imagine and observe. The chic, the modern UCCA (Ullens Center for Contemporary Art) and other facny galleries, plus the crowd surrounded is looking modish. 798 has style and a different vibe from the rest of Beijing, located north-east from city center. Old factories converted to modern galleries, a surreal life for the Beijinger they are creative and curious, tha browse through the streets in exploration and inspiration. I focused on street art and the abstract architecture. Countless galleries made me dizzy with creative overflow, I couldn’t distinguish what was creative. I need one hit at a time and then I can originate. Alone I cruised, though of my changing perspective, and smiled at the expansion of life’s moving images.
I can’t believe that I made it to China. Just yesterday I was trekking the Great Wall of China, a men’s creation that can be seen from space. F@*king crazy shit! I was in total disbelieve. — WOW. Iza we are walking on the Great Wall of China! — I always thought of it as being so far away and unreachable it always felt so distant, abstract and beyond my reach. Now, I am living this reach, and to tell you the truth, for the past week I can only feel that I belong here. I feel like I live here. Perhaps it has something to do with cursing through this advance world of digital and seamless movement alone.
The people? They spit, push but occasionally smile and are happy to help. Kids run around dipper less and man roll-up their shirts to cool of their bellies and show the manliness “if you don’t have a belly, you are not a man” type of phenomenon. The youngsters? Oh, they have style; I love the funky shoes they rock. It’s a different fashion not the western kind. ”Excuse me? It’s my daughters first time visiting Beijing can we take a picture with you?” A random woman asked when Iza, Cédric and I were visiting the Bird’s Nest stadium, a stadium where the 2008 Olympics were held. ”Of course.” We replied and I gave her the warmest hug while they snapped away, she was so happy and so was I. “Can you send this to my facebook?” I wanted to ask, but China prohibits Facebook like all the other social networking sites coming from outside the country. They have their own network of sites including a Chinese version of Facebook. The people in China are blocked; they are not allowed to spill their freedom beans. It’s a controlled export of words that are censored through higher technologies. Nothing works, no Google, no Blogger, no Facebook. They have their own feed of spinning word that shoot out supervised messages. Of course there is a way around it, buying a VPN, at https://surfrescue.me/.
Leading to the Forbidden City which was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. The name as the residence of the terrestrial emperor, was its earthly counterpart. Jin, or “Forbidden”, referred to the fact that no-one could enter or leave the palace without the emperor’s permission. The controlled personality continues into their culture. Now the Forbidden City serves as a Palace Museum where hundredths of people cramp and tramp through this magnificent wonderland of Chinese architecture and culture, definitely the heart of Beijing. Honestly, a bit too much for me, the tourists are like flies that found the best shit in town. Pushing, buzzing, flying and annoying.
Back to the future.
So Keith? Please tell me that you know where my shoes are. My Birks that I bought in Singapore, overpaid, but it’s ok as they seen South East Asia with me and supported me through the rough roads. — Sorry, I don’t remember you having your shoes when I was dragging you out of the cab. Your, shoes along with my umbrella fell into a mystery.— he replied. I wanted to cry, — No not my Birks.
Keith’s side of the story.
With heavy eyes and a splitting headache I stumbled into work. My boss had big news for me and wanted to take me out for lunch. I moved to Beijing 3 month’s ago looking to gain some experience within the production field, unaware of the opportunities that would present themselves. The big day had finally come and all I could think about was the night before.
Prior to this day I had met two girls through a website called couch surfing and agreed to host them at my place in Beijing. It is a wonderful service that allows you to reach out to travelers and provide a place to stay and share experiences. Little did I know, these two would provide a night I will never forget.
Sunday evening came around and my boss had made it pretty clear that Monday morning he would be offering me a position with his production company. It was a big night for Aga, Iza, and Cedric. Cedric was going home after a year of travels and Aga and Iza were looking to celebrate a year and a half of travels. I was easily convinced it would be a mellow night with great food and amazing company. The evening seemed perfect and the booze began to flow. Dinner was coming to an end and my appetite for alcohol was beginning to grow. Somehow Absinthe became the topic of conversation and Cedric was determined to show us the Swiss make it right. Lucky for us a little bar down the street carried all the winning potions. The Swiss Absinthe was out of our price range and we quickly settled for one that was much cheaper. Three shots deep and no one was feeling anything. Some obnoxious asshole stumbled up in awe that we just powered through three shots. Two more quickly followed and the drunken guy began to brag about special Rum he had from back home. The night was still young and Aga and I were dead set on making it into a party.
We jumped into a cab and zipped off to retrieve the rum and keep the night alive. Cedric and Iza were supposed to wait for us back at the bar. When we got back they were nowhere to be found. Motherfuckers left us with this obnoxious asshole that claimed he was the next big photographer. The bar was closing down and all signs were telling us to go home. After a few swigs I realized Aga was gone. She had made her way into the store across the street and was now sitting behind the desk using the stores computer. She came back a little distraught that we had been left and took full force of the bottle. A Chinese guy decided to join our little party and seemed nice enough. I went to take a piss and returned to Aga passed out in the lap of a guy we just met minutes before. He began to touch her inappropriately and I quickly told him to get lost.
A storm moved in and the two of us were completely stranded. Everyone was gone and no cabs were to be found. I was now growing a bit frustrated with the situation. Aga was swaying madly back and fourth across the road and cabs refused to pick a couple of drunks up regardless of the rain. I finally secured us a cab and placed Aga in the front seat. The entire way home was spent with the cab driver yelling in Chinese that he was going to drop us off if I couldn’t get Aga under control. The alcohol had hit her and everything seemed to be a joke. When we finally arrived back at my place Aga was coming in and out of consciousness. She was dead weight as I scrambled to retrieve her from the cab. The sky had fallen and the streets were flooded. The rain brought her back as we made our way pass the guards. I was exhausted and happy to see she could walk on her own. Two doors and an elevator were the last obstacles standing in our way. As we made our way through the first door I was scared to have her take the stairs up one floor. I placed her up against a wall and turned to hit the button for the elevator. When I turned around my stomach sank.
Her body was out of my reach and her face was headed straight for the marble floor. A loud crack and Aga was now completely unconscious. I had no fucking idea what to do. I couldn’t get her to wake up and tried to lift her lifeless body from the floor. Fear surged throughout my body as blood now poured from her head. I had no idea where the blood was coming from and was too scared to find out if she was even still alive. I ran to the front door and hit the panic button. Two guards with black rain suits appeared through the rain. They looked like grime reapers coming to collect the lifeless body. They turned the corner and started to panic. She was lying in a pool of blood and the guards were too scared to help me lift her. I talked one of them into helping me get her up to my place as she slowly began to come back. The cut was from her chin and she seemed to be getting better. I placed her on the couch and cleaned the blood from her face. I watched her for the next few hours before deciding she would be ok.
I closed my eyes for about an hour before she awoke. She came in still drunk and unaware of what had happened. From the bathroom I heard her yelling she had chipped her teeth. I couldn’t make out if she was joking and was too tired to care. I was happy she had made it through the night. Everything I had worked towards for the past two months was finally paying off as I sat through this meeting with my boss. My soul was tired and all I could think about was the night before.
How do I feel?
I feel good, to know that my teeth were fixed and this journey is only making me feel that I can belong anywhere in the world. I don’t feel good spending $700 on ER (Emergency Room), the dentist and the Ear specialist. I don’t feel good when I eat and my jaw hurts. However, I feel good to know that I am safe and just need time to recover. One thing we have in common being human; we breathe, we eat, we shit, we fuck and do stupid shit but most important we also know how to bounce back. It’s my turn to balance and bounce back to safe reality.