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  • Writer's pictureElena Stoeva

Beijing China, Day 1 - Getting to know what's around me

Updated: May 1, 2018

China day 1

I find it suspiciously easy to adjust to the 12 hrs ahead time difference. I didn’t sleep much during the night as it was day time in the US but still feel OK (not great) today.

Saw a kid peeing on the street with the pipi pointing safely towards the street not the pedestrians. How nice. Lots of people walking around, even though it’s a suburban area, bikes and mopeds too. And everyone looks happy. Even if they are not smiling.

Everyone looks at me because I am different. A Western woman sees me in the store and says “Hello stranger, do I know you” as I almost walk by her. Why would she know me?! Because she’s been living here for 3 years and she knows ‘us’ all. Well, I just got here last night, that’s why. How come I don’t speak Chinese, she does. She works as a teacher. Because I don’t. And why don’t I have the Bostonian ‘paaaack the caaa” accent. Well, because I have been living in Boston only 17 years, and that’s none of your business.

Went twice to two stores today and I walked a mile each way, not typically something I would do in the states. My Australian roommate says “whaaat, how do you go to the store then?!” “By car” I shock her. Even if it is a mile away, she is gasping in disbelief. Not just me, it’s all of us who leave in America. Can I speak for all? I don’t know. I still did.

I get introduced to everyone who works in the museum, three people speak English and I get super excited. One of them studied in Australia and another is going to Australia tomorrow. Australia must be popular because my roommate is from Australia too. But shame on me she speaks perfect Chinese. Been living here for 10 month. She even shops online. Chinese are surprised when I start gesturing and saying random English words, but nice to me.

There are lots of shops and restaurants nearby which is super cool, even got Starbucks in the morning. Lame, I know. But I cooked my own stir fry and used the rise cooker for lunch!

A couple of the girls at the museum took me to the police station to get registered as a foreigner. Quite an interesting experience… I got filmed with a camera answering some questions with a translator one of the girls, and she was in the frame too. What is my religion? Did I go to Tibet?

I haven’t been on a bus and train yet. Got a little worried if I will last the first day, but it is 11PM and I am typing this. Was hoping to get a buddy to ride with me for my first time, but they said if you can’t figure it out just take taxi. How come I didn’t think of this?!

I spent a couple of hours reading a Beijing guide and figuring the map. I hope I am better prepared tomorrow and ‘blend in’.

Overall I feel happy, streets look organized and clean. Everything is big especially the width of the streets, like a US highway!

I visited a small village nearby, walked there of course. What a different world. Lots of small shops, not modern, not clean. Streets so narrow that if I spread my hands I will touch both sides. And it gets narrower to the point where two people can barely pass each other. Everything looks old, people walk by fast, lots of people, lots of kids dirty and happy, fascinating! Different world from the one I just saw earlier. People riding bikes and mopeds with one hand and hanging onto their babies with the other. This village was so fascinating, that I had to go twice today.

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