Day 319 in Beijing: Erlian, Mongolia Visa Run: Hours 18-24

 

Leaving China makes a rainbow.

Leaving China makes a rainbow.

And the sun rose on Erlian.

And on us.

We woke up and looked out the windows of our hotel room.

Erlian is a pretty damn boring place, sad to say.

Honesty is the best policy, right?

As we got up, we decided to try the buffet breakfast, which was included in our hotel stay, we were pretty worried that it would be all meat and eggs.

Erlian is on the Mongolian border and Mongolia is a serious meat eating country.

We were pleasantly surprised since there was a decent amount of vegetarian options, although no fruit, and we ate up our food and decided to walk around Erlian and get some pictures of the people and the place.

There is one thing Jill and I love about China and that is the doggies.  As you know, if you follow this blog, we love the dogs and take a lot of pictures of them.  The dogs here seemed to be somewhat skittish, and we are guessing they are not treated as well as the dogs in Beijing, and they looked more like they were homeless.

Jill and I really enjoyed the Mongolia script for their language and how the signs were in Chinese, Mongolian and Russian in many places.

I had no idea that so many Russians would be near this area, but since it is part of the Trans-Siberian Railway, it makes sense for the signs to have all three languages written out.

After walking around for a bit, we went back to our rooms to get ready as we were meeting Diana at 9 am to start the border crossing journey.

Jill took the first shower and stepped out of it into a puddle of water.

The shower wasn’t built quite right so the water from it drained out into the bathroom.  There is a drain, under the sink, for the water to drain into as a back up but the floor was tilted towards the toilet so that didn’t help at all. I took my shower and we basically were walking in water whenever we went into the bathroom again.  It flat out didn’t drain at all.

Other than that, our stay at the hotel was fine and we would stay there again if we need to go to Erlian on another trip.  I guess that is about the best review I could give it.  In fact, I basically gave that review on Tripadvisor the next day.

As we would be returning to Beijing this afternoon, we checked out of our hotel, which cost us about 40 USD for the night, and waited for our driver, Diana.  We had no idea what she looked like and we had chatted, briefly, on WeChat a week before to make sure she had space for us.

A nice SUV drove up and his very cute and perky woman of about 35 showed up and said, “Hi!” to us.  We jumped in her car and she started playing American music on the radio and singing.  She was friendly and smiled a lot as we drove to our first destination.

Jill and I didn’t really have a clue what would happen.  Our friend, Moeava, telling us that she’s the best and she’ll take us on some errands during our trip.  We were looking forward to seeing what would happen and a tiny bit apprehensive.

We ended up driving to a big parking lot with lots of other jeeps and trucks with people waiting around.  This is where most the other visa run people meet and haggle for the lowest price to go over the border and back.

Three other people, including a 50 year old mother and her 25 year old daughter, got in.  The mother and daughter couple were from Mongolia, originally, and now live in Beijing.  They have to make this run every 30 days to be able to stay in China.  This gives you an idea of how much more they are paid in Beijing compared to Mongolia and why there aren’t a lot of people that choose to stay in Mongolia if they can work elsewhere.

The mother and daughter both spoke English and were very nice.  The other guy didn’t speak English but did speak Mongolian and they all talked among each other.

As we drove around, Diana did some of her errands and picked up, or dropped off, stuff that she had picked up in Mongolia.

She told us she does this run 4-5 times a day and usually takes about 4-5 people.  We paid about 25 bucks each, for our run, and if you add this up, that is a serious amount of cash just to take people back and forth across the border each day, especially in Northern China or Mongolia.

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Day 299 in Beijing: Carbon Fiber Car Hood.

A rocket that has nowhere to go because of traffic.

A rocket that has nowhere to go because of traffic.

 

I’ve shared a lot of pictures of cars that are really tiny.

I’ve shared some pictures of cars that are really expensive.

This is one of the first pictures I’ve shared of the DIY cars that people build, or buy, around Beijing.

There are a lot of them and I have no idea where they hot rod them around because the traffic here is pretty horrendous.

Then again, it isn’t really that much different than San Francisco from what I’ve seen.

Or L.A.

Or NYC.

I think it is just that there are so many people and that the city is growing so fast that it seems horrendous.

As Jill and I were waiting for our bus, this cool looking car came along.  I loved the carbon fiber hood and how it was so sexy looking.

I especially liked the reflection of the building and how it was distorted by the hood.

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Day 295 in Beijing: Home of the Little Green Car!

The Jing A Keg Egg.  Notice the keg behind the driver's seat.

The Jing A Keg Egg. Notice the keg behind the driver’s seat.

Our friends at Jing A brewery have the “Keg Egg” and we’ve seen a few other egg cars around town.

Most are red or blue.

This one was a gorgeous aqua.

As you can see from the first picture, the whole cover pretty much folds into itself.

It can actually be driven with the hood open if one is crazy enough to do it.

I spied this one from our seat on the top of #406 double decker bus as Jill and I were going down to Sanlitun Village.

Santlitun is a major expat area where there are lots of shops, stores, restaurants and bars.

Most of our friends live down there and that is where we usually meet up and hang out.

It is quite lively and a lot of fun.

However, this car was in the more residential area of Beijing.

I have a feeling it is also used as a moving advertisement for a school or something like that since it has all kinds of writing on it.

I'm 100% sure this is not waterproof in any way.

I’m 100% sure this is not waterproof in any way.

Speaking of schools, pretty much anyone can get hired to work at schools here teaching English.

One is supposed to have been teaching for 2 years but this “teaching” can be giving lectures, marketing to executives, and almost anything else as long as the administration can figure out a way to make your resume sound like it is teaching.

Also, it seems as if the amount they are going to pay you, and your contract, change immensely when you actually show up for the job compared to the want ads.

It is the same with many apartments in that the ad says one thing, and the second you show up, it seems that apartment has been rented, but don’t worry, there is another apartment for rent, in the same building, for about 10-20% more.

Isn’t that an interesting little coincidence?

Day 279 in Beijing: Baby, You Can Drive My Car.

It isn't even the full size of Jill's wing span.

It isn’t even the full size of Jill’s wing span.

So, my friend from high school, Toni Singletary Barta and I were writing to each other on Facebook on her birthday a week ago or so.  She told me that she and her husband really like the pictures of the cars that I post so I thought I’d give you a “little” birthday present from Beijing today!

Also, this isn’t my car but I totally want to drive it!

This is one of the cutest, and smallest cars, I’ve seen yet.

There is no back seat and the two front seats are tiny.

As you can see by Jill standing beside it, it is much smaller than a SMART car or anything we’ve got in the USA.

It is also electric and can be driven into water that is as deep as half the car’s height.

There is a brochure that explains all the benefits of having this car and I have to admit, if I wanted a car, this would be perfect for cruising around Beijing and getting in and around traffic jams.

This would also be a great car for many congested cities in the world and we shall see if it starts getting exported.

It is the first time I’ve seen it in China so I’m guessing it is relatively new and I hope it will gain a big market share.

I wish I could have talked to a salesperson and asked the price but no one was around.

I’ll check next time I stop by this area next time.

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Day 248 in Beijing: Cars and Motorcycles.

Mercedes Benz SLS AMG.

Mercedes Benz SLS AMG.  Yours for the low asking price of $275,000 USD.

I’ve posted a few times about the cute little cars in Beijing.

Well, there is a huge disparity in regards to money here that shows up, very quickly, when I venture down to the more upscale parts of Beijing.

I’ve seen more Lamborghini, Maserati, and top of the line Mercedes Benz here then I have anywhere else I’ve lived. Porsche, in Beijing, are not even worth noting because there are so many of them.

I have lived in San Francisco and some other very wealthy cities and nothing compares to Beijing.  I have heard the Hong Kong actually puts Beijing to shame but I have yet to visit there.

The disparity between the haves and the have-nots is amazing.

There are many people working in Beijing and trying to live on about $300 USD a month.

The cleaning lady that works for us and the security guards around our apartment complex are probably paid about that much.

I was walking around a few days ago and passed by this Mercedes parked on the sidewalk.

Two days later I saw the exact same model but in red.

The base price for this model is $275,000 USD.  I would guess that no one buys the “base model” and this is probably selling for closer to $350,000 USD.

It has “gull wing” doors which look amazing when they are opened as they swing up above the car instead of out to the side.

And it is just parked on the sidewalk in broad day light.

I then noticed the motorcycles near the Mercedes in a mall show room.

I think I’d like to try and ride one of those bad boys.

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Day 246 in Beijing: Cute Car!

Cute car for two...or three!

Cute car for two…or three!

Jill, our roommate, Gulzar, and I were walking home a few nights ago.

We happened to walk by this absurdly cute little car.

I didn’t get a picture of the side, but amazingly, this is a 4 door car.

The car is shorter than any other 4 door car I’ve ever seen, and is shorter than almost any other 2 door car I’ve seen also.

If you notice, the front seat is just that:  A single front seat that only accommodates the driver of the car.

There are two back seats and they are basically like a bench seat as they are connected and if you lay one down, they both have to be laid down.

The steering mechanism looked like something from a motorcycle and then adjusted for 2 wheels in the front.  I’m guessing that this automobile company took the guts of a motorcycle, strengthened it, and then put a very lightweight body on the frame.

This is about all Jill and I would need to be more mobile in Beijing and I’m guessing it probably costs about 1000 USD at most.

Not a bad deal!

Day 178 in Beijing: Okay. I’ve Changed My Mind. I Want This Car!

As I’ve been walking around I’ve been taking pictures of the cute cars around Beijing.

I’ve found some pretty hip and cool cars but this one blew me away.

The driver kept smiling and waving to me as I took the pictures and seemed to get as much enjoyment out of our quick connection as I did.

I love the funny little nose on this car and how the windows are so large.

It seems to be quite safe and would allow the driver and passengers to see everywhere.