Beijing Backpacking, Day 29: Young And Hitting The Ground Running

What's the difference when you're first in, last out?
What’s the difference when you’re first in, last out?

I GET THIS sense, whenever I am travelling alone or purely with other young people, that travel is about the thrill of packing in as many memorable experiences in back-to-back in the shortest amount of time. Dare I say that travel was one of the inspirations for one of my life philosophies of constantly striving to do more with less. Think about the market that exists for destinations “on a shoestring” or “in 72 hours” – all about maximising your cultural experience with minimum resources.

When you’re doing that, you live on pure adrenalin. But, what the guidebooks don’t tell you is how well rested you may need to be before the marathon. I began the day in the middle of nowhere, where you watch the sunrise in this eerie but tranquil silence amidst grasslands that go on forever. I had the time to have my spiritual reflection and recharge by the time I had to return to Beijing.

From there it was fairly straightforward: lunch in the nearest city, airport, plane, airport, subway, drop off bags, shower, change, BAR, CLUB. As you do. I was surprised I even lasted that long … let alone notice the quirks about clubbing here.

Even the name of the club seems to be sardonic about the perceptions of morality regarding what goes down. ‘Propaganda’, really? A single star at the entrance. The bouncers are dressed like Party officials. They wear red armbands which appear to mimic the ‘big-character posters’ that you see in public around China which advertise government policy or principles. The safety warnings aren’t on subtle signs in the corners: the message “SAFETY FIRST” is painted in big red characters on the back wall.

Funnily enough, next door, the club is almost identical in set-up: except that there is no Communist motif; walls and décor mimic the traditional hutong. There is a larger concentration of foreigners, although most of the Chinese were going home by about 2 a.m. It’s almost as if the owner of these two (presuming that it’s the same) wanted to show some contrast between ideology and tradition … not that one would care if they’re going to party the night away. But it is inevitable that the vibe will give you a different definition of fun nonetheless … and it still kept us out until 7 a.m.


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