Leaving Beijing was not that easy. Of course I planned everything perfectly in the morning and of course when I left I was 30 minutes behind my schedule. Stupidly I spent all my remaining Yuan for food on that day. I didn’t buy much food but if I would have know that I would have to run to the station with my 30kg backpack, my guitar and another smaller bag, I just wouldn’t have had that apple and the piece of melon and would have rather invested in a taxi…
Well, when I arrived at the station they told me that I wouldn’t be able to access the airport line from there. And of course they told me AFTER I had to take of all my equipment to run it through the x-ray machine…
So I had to strap everything back on, run up stairs to the city’s surface with all its lovely exhaust gases and then take a few lungs full of it while running to the right entrance of the station which would bring me down to the airport line.
Of course my train had just left. It was 3.25pm and the next train would comein 15 minutes. I started doing all crazy sorts of maths and visualizations to calm me down and of course to prepare me for the final sprint to the check-in desk while hoping for it to be still open! Luckily the train was true to its name and so the AirportExpress dropped me off at my terminal at 3.55pm . Another five minutes and bye-bye plane! So a final sprint got me there just in time. With one of the airport trains I went to the departure zone, went through security checks (and again they didn’t find my camping knife, which I forgot to put into the checked baggage) and I went to my gate.
I tried to charge my laptop for the flight but the power chords would just not stay in the Chinese power sockets. The only thing I saw was little lightenings coming out of the hole. I tried my best to keep my hands as far away from the socket as possible in order not to be electrocuted. Finally I built a clever construction with my bag and my foot which kinda kept power flowing! I then just checked some final Couchsurfing arrangements for the US. While doing this people were boarding already, but my battery was not fully charged yet. Around 15min before the actual flight I wanted to board the plane. Then I noticed that I forgot my watch at the security check-point. So I packed in everything superquick and rushed there. Luckily someone took my watch to the police nearby, where I could just pick it up and take with me. Coming next was another sprint back to the gate. I made it just in time.
Another good 12 hours later I landed safely at SFO in San Francisco, California. Only a few meters – or now “feet” – lay now between me and the US border. I heard a lot about the things happening here including checking of the bags, nude-scanners and severe interrogations. I was faced with latter because I didn’t print out my flight ticket from New York back to Berlin. Also I was asked what I would be doing in the US. The idea of a musician travelling the US states on a bicycle and staying at people’s places he doesn’t even know (couchsurfing) they decided to investigate a little further and kindly guided me to the interrogation center (only I call it that way). After waiting there for a good hour I was asked to the desk by Mr Fareiro. Mr Fareiro was of dark skin, wore a nice tie and had an Obama-style haircut. He asked me a couple of questions which all more or less aimed towards the question if I would be working in the US. “Working” would mean performing in venues such as bars, clubs and restaurant. He didn’t mention busking. Neither did I. I think of busking as a gift to the public. Therefore under my eyes it would not be considered “work” – at least not in the US 😉 .
Mr Fareiro surprised me most when he started asking me questions in perfect German! If you read this Mr Fareiro: I was really impressed! After telling him over and over again that I would not be performing in venues, had no shows lined up (he said his colleagues checked the internet and found lined up gigs on myspace on facebook!) and I would be totally able to support myself he let me go.
And there I was: In the US! YES!
I got on the BART (San Francisco’s public transport system) and headed to the Mission – one of the more alternative suburbs in SF. What I found there and why I stayed with nudists I will cover in one of the next posts.