Beijing Travel

Getting lost in the Beijing suburbs

9 September 2016

I  got lost in the Beijing suburbs/construction area for a good 2.5 hours and was brought home by a complete stranger

Traffic on my way to the gym

So, Beijing is this massive city with too many people. In my district alone, it takes like a few hours by bicycle to get from north to south. Bicycle you say? Yes; because there are so many people, you’d basically be stuck in traffic 24/7. I live 10 or so km from work and it takes me over 2 hours to get there if I take the bus.

What do you do when there’s no subway station near your house? You get a bicycle. So today, I went to the gym after work on my brand new free bike (thank you work). The gym however, is 10 km extra in the opposite direction of where I live, meaning it would take 1.5 hours to get back home. But make that 2, because Beijing traffic is insane.

I used this app that replaces Google maps in China which worked great the first 5 km to the gym. However, it’s not always as accurate as you want it to be and of course, it kills your battery. My battery was half empty already before taking off because I was too busy taking pictures of myself in the gym (… yes).

The first 30 minutes or so went great. Then it got really dark. Then at some point the app sent me on the highway with 1% battery left, which is when I realized I looked up the route by car (also stupid). I went on my own little adventure and just kept going straight hoping there’d be a crossroad or something where I could turn right. The app literally said I just needed to turn right somewhere and then It’d just be straight ahead for another 9 km.

I turned right into a smaller street. Then suddenly I realized the fact that I could still see the road was because there were other cars driving back and forth. When the last car passed by it was pitch black. Then of course my phone died. So there was no light, utter darkness, and I didn’t know where I was. Slight panicky moment here. No crying, but a little shaky. Started talking to myself mostly to reassure myself that everything was going to be absolutely fine.

Instead of going back, like any normal person would do, I just kept going into the darkness hoping I’d end up somewhere familiar. No houses either, just construction site (where some light came from, occasionally) and slums. Then a taxi drove by. I waved at it like a crazy person. “Your bike is too big,” the driver said while driving off. ”I’ll leave it on the side of the road!!” I yelled. That didn’t help.

Then some strange man (with a car) resting on the hood sort of appeared out of nowhere. “Where are you heading?”
“I’m lost, I need to go to the art district.” I said. “No worries, I’ll take you there.”

See, this sounds ideal right? He seemed genuine, helping out a lost foreigner. But I just.. couldn’t. I was too scared. “Never get into a car with a stranger.” So I walked off. ”Hey! The art district is in the other direction! Hey! Come back!! You’re going the wrong way!” I said sorry a couple of times. I guess I did feel guilty.

Then a car stopped. I ran towards it. “Could you maybe please call a taxi? I’m lost and my phone ran out of battery.” The driver didn’t have time to help, but pointed at a store I completely missed (store as in like.. this.. vendor-thing built into the construction site wall).

3 men were standing outside, then this conversation happened:

” = me
– = sales person
$ = another dude
% = another dude

“Could you please help me call a taxi?”

– For what?

“I’m lost”

– Where do you need to go?

“The art district”

-Oh that’s easy, I’ll show you the way

“No don’t show me the way, I just arrived in Beijing, I know absolutely nothing and my phone has no battery. Please call a taxi”

– Hahahah no more battery. You foreigner. You need to buy a power bank.

% They’ll never take your bike with you

“That’s fine, I’ll leave it here”

-Here? Better put if over there then

“Whatever, call me a taxi, please”

% Why don’t you take her?!

– I can’t

% Where did you come from just now?

” Far away

% (said something I didn’t understand)

” I’m sorry I didn’t understand that”

– She doesn’t speak Chinese

$. She speaks Chinese just fine

“Can you call me a taxi or not?”

– See, the problem is, it costs money

“I have money, I’ll give you money, I’ll give the driver money, I don’t want to bike, I want a taxi”

– Let’s see (looks at phone).. don’t know the number, what’s the number?

% I don’t have a number

$. I don’t have a phone

– Seriously, I’ll show you the way

“No really, I don’t want to bike, it’s too dark, I can’t see anything

– It’s dark everywhere. Why did you decide to bike?

“I’ve been biking for hours, because, you know, I GOT LOST”

% Where do you work?

“The Sanlitun area”

– That’s extremely far from here

“I know, I just said I needed to go to the art district”

-That’s not very far from here


% Have you been biking before?

“This is my second time biking in Beijing”

– HAHAHA foreigner getting lost in Beijing.. (stops laughing and puts on a serious face).. then again I would also get lost in a foreign country. I get it.

% There are some cars that have room for a bike, that’s a better option

“YES, yes, call them.

– I don’t have a number, do you have a number?

% *checks phone* No, no number

$ Just take her there!

% Yeah, take her! We can use some rope for the bike.

$ Are you willing to pay?

“Yes. Anything, whatever, just get me a car”


Great day.

2 replies on “Getting lost in the Beijing suburbs”

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