The Great Escape

It started just like a normal night out. Except that we were in China. We, that is my Slovakian friend Matej and myself. And China that is Beijing to be precise. We had just successfully completed the Mongol Rally (literally one of the most stupid races on Earth) and were absolutely fucked up after driving 10,000 km, living on beans and vodka only.Nevertheless we ended up at a hostel with an indoor bar. And it was happy hour when we got there so we had no excuse not to drink.

The night continued and I found myself on a rooftop in one of the fanciest clubs of Beijing. Needless to say we were totally underdressed. But a friend of Matej’s had hooked us up with VIP tickets, which meant free access and free drinks. So we got drinks from the bar and walked up to the terrace. Then we got drinks from the bar and walked up to the terrace. We did that several times until a security guy blocked the door to the terrace. He said it was closed now. We argued that it was our last night here (which of course was not true) and tried to convince him to just let us take a quick picture out there. No chance.

Matej got pretty angry. He looked at the security guy, looked into his glass of vodka cranberry and then back at the security guy. It all happened within seconds. A handful of Chinese men appeared out of nowhere. Together with their vodka-cranberry-covered friend they jumped up and down and babbled something we did not understand. We ignored it and went back to the bar. Meanwhile I noticed how the Chinese men would follow Matej’s every move. I have to admit it was quite funny to watch. Matej would walk a couple of meters and like little ducklings they would follow him until he stopped. Somehow they would not kick us out of the club but rather watch our backs like personal bodyguards.

It must have been around 3 am when we decided to leave the club and told the taxi driver where to take us. We had nothing but a small paper with our address written down in Chinese letters. The driver took us – I don’t know where, but it was not the area where we lived in. It was late, we were tired and drunk. Explaining and complaining would not have helped. We decided to pay the driver and get a new taxi. The driver looked at me „This is no good money“. I assured him that we got the money from a Chinese Bank and that it was in fact good money. He did not take it. So we drove to the next ATM, withdrew some more Yuan and paid him. Again he said „This is no good money. You are bad people!“ We did not know what to do. I mean we really tried what we could and still he did not accept our money.

We had had enough. Matej and I looked at each other and we had the exact the same thing in mind. 1…2…3 we jumped out of the car and ran down the street. The road was narrow and there were tall buildings on both sides. We kept running. I turned around to see that the taxi driver had left the car and was following us. He was walking surprisingly slowly. Soon we would find out why: The street was a dead end!

I felt like I was part of an action movie. We were facing a three meter high, corrugated iron wall – impossible to climb. Matej started kicking the bottom part of the wall. We pushed it and somehow managed to crawl through. We kept running and not being able to see anything we fell right into a construction pit. There was dust everywhere. I could feel the adrenalin, or the alcohol or whatever it was that made me really alert. We wondered if we would be safe down there. So we waited for about 15 minutes. Then we heard something. People. Then dogs. Then we saw the glowing flashlights on the buildings surrounding us. That freaking taxi driver had called the cops!

We felt paralyzed and couldn’t move. „Don’t worry. They won’t find us.“, Matej said. He assured me that we were pretty much in the blind spot and nobody could see us from up there. Just then I had a flashlight blinding me in the face. „CHINGCHANGPINGPANGPUNG!“ They were shouting like mad men. I whispered to Matej: „Let’s just act really drunk and completely helpless.“ So Matej got up and, trying to walk stumbled over my leg. Then I tried to lift him and fell back to the ground. This continued for a while and even though we must have looked like total retards, we were having great fun. Then we started waving at them shouting for help. It was hilarious. And there was no way they would be able to carry us out there. The pit was at least 2 meters deep and quite steep also.

The police men talked to each other in confusion. Then they left. We don’t know if they were going to get a ladder, a crane or a helicopter. But they were gone. We decided to seize the moment and silently sneak to the other side of the pit, where it looked like we were able to climb out. From there we had to kick open another corrugated iron wall, climb on some dumpsters and over a wall which had pieces of broken glass on top. A few scratches later we were back on the streets of Beijing. „Imagine their faces when they come back and find the empty pit“ Matej laughed.

We felt happy and lucky. We decided not to take a taxi home but found a lady on a rickshaw instead. For a couple of Euros she was willing to paddle us all the way home. It was a long but comfortable ride and in the end the lady actually knew the way. When we got home we decided to sleep in next morning, since our plan was to take our sleeping bags to the Great Wall of China. But that’s a different story.

 

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