HSBC Bank, Qianmen, and Laundry Escapade

We reawaken at 11am. To a fresh smelling room. Wow. Progress.

We eat in room. OL munches on chips and Oreos. I ask if he likes breakfast in bed in Beijing. He fails to see the humor. I eat a coconut loaf with cream inside and a three flavored bun with red bean, coconut, and cream as three mini buns linked together.





Banks are generally closed from 12-1 so we decide to take a leisurely stroll to the subway. We walk up the hutong to Dazhalan

and Qianmen.



At Qianmen, we go into subway where they only sell one way tickets that must be used that day at that station. The attendant is nice enough to tell us this before we buy them from machine.

Wtf? No day pass no weekly pass no stored value card. This sucks.  Worst subway ticket setup ever.

We take the subway to Jianguomen nei and look for HSBC. It is Ofc across a multilane semi highway. We find an underpass and make our way there. We ask the teller to help us but she says she cannot access my account without the ATM card. But she is really nice and refers us to customer service.

That girl is even nicer. She cannot access my account but she says I can get a one time lump sum of emergency cash given the situation. So we say let’s do that. It requires calling the US branch, me answering a ton of questions and them okaying the sending of cash to me.

Ofc HSBC laid everyone off (30K people recently) so it takes about 20 minutes to get through. Finally get live operator and she tells me my account number is too long. Because I added a number in case something happened. So I drop the last zero and poof correct account number.

I have to answer tough questions and I fail one. So they ask more. It’s intense. Especially cause if I fuck up I can’t get my money.

OL is with me the entire time. A total rock. it takes about 2 hours but finally the US bank pays my emergency funds. All the Beijing Jianguomen HSBC employees speak fluent English and go out of their way to be kind to us. The HSBC here jumps into action and releases 3100 yuan to me as soon at the US bank says they can. Minus a 160 yuan transaction fee. Which is wonderful.

The workers were super kind and helpful. A ray of pure sunshine in Beijing. Made me glad I banked with HSBC.

Finally have cash again and can enjoy my vacation.

We go to McDonalds for lunch next door and I splurge 7 yuan on pineapple pie and taro pie. I prefer the apple.

I have the fish sandwich but they put cheese on it ew.

I decide to pee but the restrooms are out in the shopping area. So I double back to get OL. I got way too much cash on me to venture anywhere alone.

OL comes with me. Western toilets with tp and soap. Very cool.

We leave uber grateful to the amazing staff at the HSBC.

Try to get taxi to hutong but drivers swears not know where street is and refuses to look at my map. BTW, this is first year Chinese to explain. And I do in Chinese. But he doesn’t want to take our fare clearly. We get out of cab disgusted.

Walk back to subway and subway to Qianmen.Walk back to hotel to drop money off. Stop in a few Dazhalan shops.

Lots of touristy junk. Make it to hotel safely and hide money in suitcase and lock it.

Then we decide to see Tiananmen square at night. Guidebook recommends it. So we walk all the way back up to Qianmen area. But it’s not doable. It’s all roped off. Grrr. We find this out after taking 3 underpasses to get nowhere since it’s blocked off.

Walk back and go to Gobuli for dinner. They are famous for their buns stuffed with delicious filings. I wanted 2 of each bun. Waiter suggested set meal which is a complete tourist trap ripoff. You get 1 of each of the 8 buns and a bowl of gross pickled veggies and millet porridge for 120 yuan.  Get a set of 6 to go for 30 yuan-I find out later. Ouch. OL get tofu dish for 40.



When we go to pay, the waitresses giggle when the register lady rings us up and announces the total. I turn to them and say look I know I just got ripped off there is no need to laugh in my face. The register lady gives me my change and says goodnight.

My fault for letting the waiter lead my astray. But honestly, I wanted 2 of each bun and he made it seem like the set meal was the better option. Ass hole.

We go back to the hotel. Want to salvage the night. So I decide to get tokens to do a load of laundry. Get the tokens from the front desk and she asked you go now so I thought yeah now.

It’s in the hostel basement. In the hostels help-yourself kitchenette and launderette room. Um this place is filthy btw. Not just messy or a little dirty. No we’re taking filthy.

I put my load of clothes in and the soap lady comes with the detergent and puts it in my wash.

I refuse to leave my clothes unattended so I sit there. Washing is 50 minutes.

OL asks me can you see the black hairs in the chopsticks used for eating. I look over. Yeah. Try not to look around. He asks how can you not.

So the second washer is free and I dispatch him to get my clothes and get the soap lady back down here.

I have both washers going and in walks Bavarian guy. He asks clod wash clod?

I say yes both washers are being used. He asks clod how long? I say about 30 minutes. So he leaves his clothes there.

Meanwhile, 3 French girls come in to empty their dryer. First off, they cannot figure out how to open the dryer. Giggle feast ensues. They scamper out to hallway. Brave one ventures in and goes out to hallway to laugh. Takes several tries for them to figure out how to open dryer.

Then they erupt in fresh giggles. Clothes are sopping wet. Won’t dry wet. Need to be rung out wet. I know because one of them wrings out a top in front of me and water splatters on the floor.

I think Uh-oh and hope my clothes are okay in washer.

So then another girl joins them and all four attempt to wring out hand washing. And piling them on the edge of a chair back. I know it’s only a matter of time before they topple over. Onto the filthy floor. And they do.

Gigglefest ensues.

Soap lady comes in when my wash is 4 minutes from done. She tells me to put my clothes in dryer, which runs 99 minutes. She looks disgusted by dumb French girls. Then she grabs Bavarian guy’s bag of clothes and starts emptying into my old washer. She gets to bag of his panties and puts them on counter between the sterilizer and the toaster. The counter where people make their toast.

Bavarian guy comes in and freaks about French girls wet clothes. Soap lady asks if he wants include panty bag in wash. She doesn’t touch it. He says yes and grabs bag to add to washer, but panties fall onto counter. He does not notice. Soap lady gets disgusted look on her face and picks up panties that are partly touching sterilzer and tosses into washer. Bavarian guy is super-hyper and jarring with his motions.

So I have a load of panties and tshirts in dryer and a load of tshirts in washer. 99 minutes in dryer. French girls re-dry their clothes, which means no second dryer. So OL must take my load of tshirts to the room to dry. I stay with my washing while he MacGyver’s ways to hang it all up.

Btw OL has been to front desk 3 times. Once to get extra token for washer, once to get soap lady, once to get hangers.

Random guy comes in to use dryer. Both in use. He asks me if this is prime time and how are mornings. Like I’m the fucking laundry queen.

I’m watching the dryer and I realize mine stopped turning. At 48 minutes. Open the door and it is warm but damp. Ugh. So I decide to call front desk but phone not work. I’m enroute to front desk when Bavarian guy asks, clod done? I say no dryer not working. Going to front desk. He looks alarmed.

I go to front desk and they call soap lady to meet me in laundry room.

When I get there, she has her hand in my dryer amongst my panties as does Bavarian guy. Who tells me, clod not dry. She then takes the filter off dryer with all the dust in it over my clothes. Ew. First off Bavarian guy is touching my wet panties and now soap lady is redirtying them.

She announces dryer is broken and leaves room. Bavarian guy follows her.

She returns sans Bavarian guy and say get clothes and takes me to another dryer on first floor in hostel wing, which has its own drying room for hanging wet clothes. This indicates to me place has shitty dryers. I put my clothes in the dryer and she goes to push the button but it’s fallen into the machine. Ugh. But the clothes turn.

Now I go to tell OL about the laundry developments. He’s in the shower. I go to write a note but can’t slide it under door. So I ring doorbell.

He answers fresh from shower. I catch him up on everything.

Then go back to laundry room. A little while, later he comes down to relieve me. He will sit with clothes while I shower. I feel bad but he insists.

He doesn’t return to room until 12:40 am. And guess what? The clothes are all damp. We now use chairs and drawers to hang clothes on. It’s a panty village in our room.




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10 Responses to HSBC Bank, Qianmen, and Laundry Escapade

  1. Lucas says:

    This is intense having bavarian guy and soap lady manhandling all your wet panties.

    • Yeah Bavarian guy’s hand in my dryer was like WOW. Really?! But when soap lady took the vent off the back of the cryer and let dryer lint fall all over my just washed underwear, I was again confronted with zero common sense.

  2. berry says:

    Uggh. Throw out those panties. What a nightmare. Wash in ur sink. No bavarian there. Just ol.

    • Couldn’t. I packed just enough to wear for the trip if I did laundry a few times. Poor OL was such a trooper with the laundry, coming up with inventive ways to dry 20 pairs of panties and a dozen t-shirts. Four pairs of pants and pajamas. Considering we only had 4-6 hangers. 🙂

  3. westwood says:

    I salivated from the get-go. Bean buns? Yes please!

  4. berry says:

    I read your blog every day. I can’t believe some of the horror. The other countries seemed fine. But here is one debacle after another. Why were u mistreated so badly? Certainly this can’t be indicative of the culture right? Just the city you chose and the poverty level.

    Though I had an encounter with a Chinese woman at Georgetown graduation. Very rude and mean at buffet table. Lowered my opinion of the Chinese. And it was only one experience.


    • Yeah, it was pretty rough in mainland China. I spent a summer there in 1998 and it was wonderful. I can’t be sure what changed in 13 years but it definitely changed. And not for the better. I don’t think I would go back there to be honest. Xian and Beijing were the worst part of my trip. It stopped feeling like vacation and started feeling like punishment. Something to be endured until I could leave the country.

      I think as a foreigner with blonde hair and green eyes and pale skin I had a target on me. I stood out and not in a good way. Because everyone in China assumes foreigners traveling abroad have money. To me it felt like they also held the belief that they should extract as much from them as they can. It wasn’t like that 13 years ago. People were kinder overall and I had 90% positive experiences back then. This time, it was 75% bad experiences.

      I try not to judge based on a few experiences, but after dozens or hundreds you can’t help seeing a pattern. The wealthy and educated Chinese (Shanghai & HSBC people in Beijing) treated me politely and were a joy to be around. The less educated and less wealthy for the most part treated me badly. Unfortunately, the majority of the country is not wealthy and not well educated.

      • berry says:

        You are right. You try to be open but they make it do hard. Why I don’t know. You seem like a very nice person. I would not treat you that way.

        • There are times I was quick to assume the worst and I was wrong. But the thing is being open can get you robbed or hurt. For me, I put safety first, but tried to keep an open mind. Honestly, no one took the time to get to know me. These are just my interactions with strangers. Some were kind and decent to me. Others tried to take advantage and cheat me. I don’t know them but for how the treated me. They could be the kindest people in the world to their family for all I know. I can only go by what happened during my interaction with them.

Any thoughts or reactions or favorite foods you want to share?