Trip Start Jul 28, 2009
51Trip End Jul 27, 2010
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Where I stayed
Four star hotel somewhere
What I did
Orientation and met other TTC members
Day 2: TTC begins
I didn't really think I would get jet lag too much, but now I know how annoying it can be. I woke up very early at about 4.30, after having just about 4 hours sleep. I felt pretty down last night, as I put myself to bed after playing copious amounts of video games, and not disappointingly I didn’t venture out. Ah, it doesn't matter, spending 24 hours in your hostel room is normal when you travel to a new country, right? Ha, I know it was a long time to spend in a hostel room but time seemed to fly by anyway. I tried going back to sleep when I woke up, but it was near impossible, despite the fact my room was pitch black. I refused to put the air con on (for environmental reasons), but had to in the end because of a terrible stench that was wafting from the bathroom. Eventually I started watching peep show at 6 o’clock for a couple of hours, which monged me out majorly and made eventually put me back to sleep.
I had set my alarm for 10 to get up. I was in a nice deep sleep so I wasn't too pleased I had been awoken up by my alarm. The shower was terrible, and only stayed hot for about 2 minutes before turning cold again. I washed my hair but that was about it, couldn't be dealing with coldness in my sensitive state I was in.
I went to go for breakfast, and the first thing I did was tell the waiter that I had hadn't paid the bill for the last meal I had. (Suddenly occurred to me in the morning that I had simply walked out the day before without even considering paying, things are different here) I ordered a full English, without sausage. I’m still trying to get used to the Chinese tasting tinge on their foreign dishes (they simply can’t get it right), and I still haven't been adventurous enough to try anything authentically Chinese.
I was very thirsty, even bordering dehydration because I had locked myself in that room for such a long time. I was desperate for a drink, so I caught the waiter’s attention and signaled for a cup of water. This is something I didn’t realize at the time, and I don’t suspect you know this either, but the Chinese enjoy drinking their tap water hot. There I was, desperate for a sip of delicious water, and the waiter finally gave me the water. Quickly sipping it to quench my thirst I realized It was boiling hot!! I had a good mind to call the waiter back over and give him a bloody smack, was he taking the piss or something? Instead I put the water down and waited 5 minutes as the erupting headache from my dehydration started to take hold.
Even the water dispensers have a choice of boiling or warm water.. no cold?
I checked out my apartment and gave Jonathan Wong a call. I would say Jonathan is the closest representative to me at the moment, mainly because I have spoke to him on skype so much and we even talk about thing not related to the Teach and Travel China program. Mainly about computers to be honest, typical me. Was strange because he had a full on Australian accent, which really surprised me, despite the fact I knew he was Australian. I had to double check with him that there was a change in accommodation, which concerned me because I knew what the hotel looked like where I thought I was going. He confirmed that the new accommodation was not the one that I needed to go to, and the email I had received a day earlier was in fact an error. Thank fuck, I was looking forward to spending my quarantine in a 4 star hotel.
I walked down the street that was being completely re-done and was stared at a lot by everyone. I didn't really think that Europeans were that shocking to look at! I hailed a cab immediately, and jumped in. I had read about taxi drivers being dodgy in Beijing, especially when it came to solo travellers. I can tell you now he wasn't a fraud and I made it there, but saying I got there safely would be an understatement! Drivers in Beijing are crazy, period. There are no rules and no traffic lights to go along with that; I found it all very amusing.
I didn't realise that these were my last few moments of freedom before entering quarantine because of swine flu. If I realised that they were I probably would have made the most of my time outdoors. When I arrived at the hotel, someone called Pete greeted me. He knew who I was without me introducing myself; It is because he knew who my sister was. My sister must have made quite an impression last year, because a lot of the staff knew who I was because of my sister. Pete introduced himself (as you do) gave me a TTC starter pack and took me to my room. My roommate had not arrived yet, so I began to get organised. Before I could get much of my stuff out I heard a knock on the door. It was 2 German guys, Vincent and Thore (you wont be able to pronounce the second guys name!) They were very friendly and were enthusiastic to meet me because they had already spent 4 days in quarantine with each other and were probably keen to meet someone else. (I was the 3rd person to arrive)
They treated me to a meal. Apparently it is customary in China for one person to buy the meal, so Vincent was very insistent that he would pay despite my best efforts to offer him something. They couldn't talk Chinese, and neither can I, so ordering the meal was quite amusing. They were veterans in ordering food from that restaurant, and knew what to order. I admitted that I was a vegetarian to them and they were very understanding. We only ordered food that we thought 'looked' vegetarian and a couple of dishes that they liked. I’m still trying to get used to Chinese food. If I am honest with you, I think Chinese food is one of the worst types of food in the world (bar American). Everything is fried, salty and strange. My stomach does not agree with it what so ever. I’m relying on the knowledge that my cousin gave me about how the body needs to adjust to a new diet because of the different bacteria etc in the foods.. I just hope that I adjust quickly. During that meal I’m pretty sure I ate octopus, which didn't really bother me but it was a pretty major step for me considering I had never eaten meat/fish before. I did try and eat it because I thought could have been tofu?!
After the meal the rest of the people arrived. They all arrived at once because most people had got in touch with each other and organised to get on the same flight (which pissed me off, because TTC were fucking shit at hooking me up with other people on the program, should have gone with realgap). Spoke to loads of people, and pretty much had the same conversation with most people apart from the ones I got a long with well. You're probably wondering who is the best looking out of the bunch, in my opinion it was Sandra. Swedish, tall and blonde, awww yeah! Might have to get to know her a little better, but she literally looks like a super model and is likely to get gobbled up by the others. As we are in quarantine there is not a lot to do, so for about 5 hours I just sat on the sofas talking to people and establishing friendships.
I have to share a room with someone else. His name is Sven and he is from Sweden, and he is a really cool guy. I wasn’t sure if I was getting along with him very well at first but he has turned out sound and had a good long chat with him when we finally sat down and got talking. Went up to the room pretty damn early of around 9.30 but I wasn’t too bothered because the jet lag was starting to kick in. Stayed up for a little bit talking to Sven, even got onto the topic of girls and he gave me some pretty good advice on confidence etc from stuff that he had read in books. Watched some rubbish Chinese Tv and then went to bed. Didn’t have a good sleep that night, but I got enough and certainly more than what I had the previous night at the hostel.