A Travellerspoint blog

Beijing Normal University, day 8

Serious studying.

sunny 39 °C

Hello again one and all, just taking a quick study break to continue where I left off in the last post. I believe I was at the airport?

Day 1 (cont.): To get from BCIA to the BNU campus, I had to take a taxi. The driver was the first non-English speaker with whom I have ever had to converse, and it was rough. Native Beijingers have an accent that attaches an "r" sound to the end of nearly every sentence, and makes things a bit harder to understand for people like me, who have never heard anything but the official standard Mandarin dialect. Fortunately, the driver was friendly and helpful (Turns out, most Beijingers are!) and he got me where I needed to be without much trouble. I even learned the Chinese word for sedan.

Driving in this city is something else. Traffic laws exist but are scantily enforced, and things like lane markers and streetlights are considered guidelines rather than strict rules. The result, I think, is surprising: drivers here seem far more alert and attentive to their surroundings, especially since about a third of them are professional taxi drivers. Rarely does anyone reach 80 km/h (thirty something mph) and traffic stays quite fluid for the most part. As of now I'd say I feel far safer here than, say, on the streets of a large city in the U.S. like Los Angeles.

Well, study break's over, look for more from me tomorrow!

Posted by Tony China 00:26 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Beijing Normal University, day 8

I'm finally back online!

25 °C

Hey everybody, sorry about the wait but have no fear: As of today I am _officially_ reconnected with the internet. Touchdown in Beijing was eight days ago on June 27'th, and the past week has been filled to bursting with activity, more than I can write in a single post, but I'll do my best to keep you up to date from now on. I haven't bought a camera here yet, but my new friends have taken _lots_ of pictures of me, soon to be revealed.

_I love it here._

Day 1: Started in the plane, which was a really nice ride, complete with lots of free movies and three not-unsolid meals. On the descent into China I was introduced to the thick, smoggy shell that surrounds the city (making sunblock all but unnecessary). Walking out of the plane into the Beijing Capital International Airport, I learned about something else: the heat.

It's hot here, unbelievably, searingly, beyond belief hot. This week the Chinese government officially declared a heat wave, with temperatures averaging around 38 C, or 100 F. It's been dry lately, but when I landed the humidity was around 70 percent.

BCIA is a huge and beautiful airport, with high futuristic ceilings, a train running smoothly from end to end every few minutes, and the peaceful sound of traditional Chinese music in the distant background. Personally, my favorite airport so far. For the first time the advertisements and instructional signs around me were primarily in Chinese, with smaller English text below. Even so, it was easy to find where I needed to go to change my USD and find a taxi.

I'm still busy here and it's time to get back to studying, so I'll have to cut this post short for now, but next time look forward to hearing about my first time talking to the locals and my impressions of the BNU campus!

Zai jian (goodbye)!

Posted by Tony China 21:28 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Holiday Inn Express, San Carlos

The traveling has begun!

semi-overcast 23 °C

After much evaluation, consideration, and sacrifice, I've packed everything I'll be taking to China into one suitcase and one violin case. The list:

A week's worth of clothes, including eight T-shirts, seven button-ups, two pairs of pants*, and four ties.
Toothbrush, floss, deodorant, hand sanitizer, nail clippers.
Three Chinese textbooks, one laptop computer, a few pens.
Joyce's Dubliners and Dostoevsky's The Posessed**.
Flashlight and duct tape
Passport and other necessary papers
Violin

Probably a couple of other things I just can't remember off the top of my head. It's a pretty tightly packed suitcase.

  • It turns out I only own two pairs of pants without holes in them, and my mom wouldn't let me take the rest.
  • *The Posessed is a huge book, so I couldn't actually fit it in the suitcase. I'm just carrying it around.

Spent the day getting packed and saying goodbye to family and friends, now I'm sitting in a hotel in San Carlos, about to go to bed so I can get up early for my flight to Vancouver. When next you hear from me I'll be in Beijing!

Posted by Tony China 22:29 Archived in USA Tagged packing Comments (0)

Base Camp Chico, Day 14

Time to start packing.

sunny 27 °C

Our microwave is broken. It works just fine, except that whenever someone opens it it turns on, blasting the hungry user with deadly radiation. I'm going to have to head for China just to avoid hand cancer!

Still not finished reviewing ye olde Chinese textbooks, and beginning to realize I may never be. Ah well, it'll give me something to do on the plane!

The plane! I'm not scheduled to arrive in Beijing until Sunday, but I'll be starting the trip Friday, which leaves me tomorrow to pack everything I'm going to bring. Oh well, at least everything seems to be in order, even if it's the eleventh hour already. Wish me luck!

Posted by Tony China 22:28 Archived in USA Tagged preparation Comments (0)

Base Camp Chico, Day 12

Busy busy busy.

sunny 23 °C

But also lazy lazy lazy. I spent most of today watching TV while I cracked my head against a Chinese textbook, punctuated by an unplanned two-hour nap at about 5PM. Seriously, I just fell asleep with pen in hand, and I haven't done that since... well, since math class.

Sometime in the next four days I'll have to find time to get a power of attorney form notarized for my parents, set up a Bank of America account (1), and get a suitcase packed with enough stuff to keep me alive for my first few days in Beijing.

1) B of A has a partnership with the Chinese Construction Bank that would allow me to withdraw RMB's from their ATMs without a transaction fee. Yay!

Oh, and get a new watch. As luck would have it, the strap on my current one split in two this morning, spontaneously, without any prompting on my part. Some of you know that I loved that watch and feel naked when not wearing it, so it's a bit demoralizing.

Not all news is bad though! According to this New York Times article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/08/business/global/08rail.html

some Chinese rail companies are offering to support the high speed rail project here in California, with respect to technology and even funding. They're competing with some European companies for the project, but I sincerely hope the Chinese get it, if only for the irony of the situation. Who knew the Chinese were so good a building railroads?

Posted by Tony China 00:41 Archived in USA Tagged preparation Comments (0)

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