First impressions - Day 1-2

Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
Trip End Mar 28, 2010

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Flag of China  , Beijing,
Friday, October 9, 2009

Crowdedness - Having just come from Zurich, it was one of the first things which I noticed. Public transportation (this includes walking) is frequently a herd experience.

Directions - Apparently it is shameful to not know directions to a place nearby; to the point that lying is even normal.  When trying to go to the 798 Arts district, I asked about 4 people and got 4 different answers.  People speak in a way that they were sure but when I started walking it was incorrect.  Finally, I got the right opinion.  It was frustrating to say the least.  Now I always check the map first before I bother asking.  If someone asks me, I guess I will have to choose the shameful path, and tell them I don't know!

798 Arts District - I visited this place once and is in close walking distance from where I live.  It has hundreds of galleries and pieces of art... perhaps more than I have time to explore.  It is already one of my favorite places because of the proximity and I like the liberating feeling of the place.

Forbidden City - For my first full day here, I stopped by the Forbidden City.  The palace was just like what I had seen in books and movies... with the orange, slicing rooftops, huge red gates and of course, tons of people.  My favorite part was the golden lion statues, because they looked so fierce.  The funniest was seeing a lady crouched in the corner smoking and trying to avoid being seen.  I will post a picture of it later. =0  It was amazing to think that the palace was all dedicated to the emperor, the soldiers and servants in the past.  And now, open to the common person.

Tiananmen Square - Afterwards, I made my way to the Tiananmen Sq. south of the palace and saw all the floats which were used in the 60 year anniversary of the country celebration.  It will filled with a sea of camera happy people which I slowly made my way through.  I liked the lights on the floats the most.

The air / water - Unfortunately, the air is filled with smog unless there is a strong wind.  I do miss the Swiss nature now that I am no longer near it.  It is strange because one can actually stare at the hindered sun. 

Food - The food has been excellent so far.  First, I had hotpot which is like "Chinese fondue."  You pick what you want in it and cook it in a boiling pot of soup right in front of you.  The biggest change has been the price of a meal.  In Zurich, I paid at least 10 CHF for a meal.  Here I pay a third of that or even less sometimes.  It's really unbelievable.
My Chinese - Following several short conversations, I realize that I have a long way to go before I can converse well in Chinese.  One good thing is that I will have the work environment to practice and there's always TV too.  I didn't know simple words such as "taxi" and "subway" which I had to learn quickly to avoid embarrassment!

Left-handed paranoia
- I can't help but be paranoid of being left-handed when I am eating.  Historically, everyone is supposed to be right-handed.  In fact, it was disgraceful for children to be left-handed and they were forced to change their dominant sides.  So when eating, I am always looking around and wondering if people believe I am a disgraceful child. =P

More to come soon!
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jetsedder on

Hannah! hey, thanks for breaking the ice w/ the first comment. Really glad to hear from you too!

Haenam on

Hey Edward! Thanks for your invitation ! and I want to mention that your picture is so funny :-)

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