Never again will I make a foray 'downtown' on a Sunday afternoon, as I foolishly did today. I don't know what got into me. I should have known better. After church this morning, and lunch with some friends, I decided to head 'downtown' to get my haircut. There really is no downtown Beijing, so what I'm referring to is the east side of town, where most of the western commercial enterprises are located, and where my hair-cutting lady works. If I'd only called her shop to make sure she was there before heading over (I didn't and she wasn't) I would have saved myself much heartache and sanity. I decided to take a cab, and my friend came along for a ride to a subway stop near where I would get my haircut.
Unfortunately, it seemed like all 20 million Beijing residents were out (it was a gorgeous autumn day), and certainly everyone that owned a car was driving. Within 5 minutes were were stuck in traffic. After about 20 minutes of getting know where fast above ground, we paid off the driver, got out, and headed to the nearest subway stop at Tiananmen Square. She would take it to the transfer line, and I would go on to get my haircut near the following stop.
The train pulled in and it was CROWDED! My heart sank. I just wasn't in the mood to fight my way onto a subway. But fight we did, and on we got–jammed in cheek to cheek (upper and lower) with more people than you can imagine. So much for personal space. The train pulled into the next station, and came to a halt. Our little band of sardines looked out the window and saw two dozen people standing on the platform ready to fight their way onto the train to join our little party. Almost in unison, everyone inside the train let out a big groan!
It was a good reminder that even though they are more accustomed to it, Chinese people themselves can sometimes be overwhelmed and annoyed by the crowds.