Tuesday, May 4, 2010
So finnnallly I arrived in Beijing. I was supposed to arrive around 9...it was 10:20 when I finally was driving to Tainjin.
There was a kid who got sick on the plane and was almost carried off. They put him in a wheel chair. When we left the plane, there were about 15 people in green neon vests waiting, to clean the plane I assume? We had to walk down stairs to a bus that drove us to the airport. The same woman I described earlier, the blonde one, asked me where I was staying the night. I said I wasn't completely sure...as was the case. She was from the Czech and was with 2 other women. I am sure they asked me because I was the only other foreign looking person. It took awhile for my bag to come out. I swear I was the only American there. No complaint, just observation. I walked out of the gate, by then it was after 10pm. Like the other airport, there were people waiting and signs. One guy my age was holding a plain piece of printer paper that said "University of Michigan" on one horizontal line, and under was "Tianjin Normal University." I gave him a double take and walked around. I approached him from behind and tapped his shoulder. I was not sure exactly what to say so I said...actually I forget what I said. He asked if I was Daisy. And off we went. He carried my handbag, which is quit heavy, but will be fairly empty soon. I felt bad, I offered to take it back. It wasn't that he was weak...but it was heavy. His name is Oliver. He arrived at 9. I apologized and thanked him for waiting so long. English flowed back to me...I began to ask many questions (not too many). I felt confident once again, but I could tell he felt slightly intimidated or nervous. He has never been to the United States...I asked if he plans on it..."Maaayyybe." He traveled to Tibet last summer. He asked if my daypack was a 60L. I think it is 50 or 55L. He is locally from Tianjin and is a 3rd year.
The parking garage was interesting, purple and yellow painted floors and pillars mostly. The driver said ni hao to me. I volunteered to sit in the back and assumed my position as unknowing newcomer. I asked where we were driving...I felt so out of the loop. He said to souhteast to Tianjin. 2 hours. Yikes.
We were on the outskirts of Beijing. Oliver told me that Beijing was the city I wanted to see first when first coming to China. He saw me scribbling down notes int he backseat and asked if I needed a light. I said no thank you and then proceeded to ask how to say no thank you. I know xie xie. He told me Bu xie. Then he realized what I was trying to say and said bu xie xie, like English. I appreciate him humoring my curiosity. I asked the speed limit, first realizing how the highway traffic flowed. My first question had been if there were lots of tollroads in China. He did not understand what that meant and we had a short conversation about how the freeway and tollroad system worked in the US. I then asked what the speed limit was. 110 kmph. I felt stupid. All of the lessons from 5th grade math about conversions escaped me. He said it was about 60 mph. He asked if that was how we measured speed and I said miles per hour, 60-75 on the highway. The driver was going about 120 sometimes. You had to swerve all over between trucks, who also swerved. Interesting. I noticed "Don't drive when tired signs."
The more interactions I have with locals, the more I realize which words/phrases I need to memorize and get down pat. I am trying to force myself to know the language better.
We arrived at the Golden Bridge Hotel around 1pm, as stated in my very first blog. Larry was in bed and left my room number. Oliver set me up. The lady at the desk asked for my passport. After about ten minutes he led me to my room. The elevator's walls are reflective. I am on the 7th floor with Sunny, and everyone else is on the 8th floor. But we somehow have wireless internet...and internet at all. I am enjoying that fact. We don't want to move. We are here for 3 weeks I believe, slightly less? Our itinerary changed so I am not exactly sure what is all going on anymore. I said thank you and goodbye to Oliver and asked if I would see him again. We both didn't know. He was staying the night on a floor below. He was a nice guy, cute.
Sunny was asleep but I was up late getting settled and writing my first blogs, catching up on my life and notes. We have two beds, a shower, and no toilet paper. This hotel is part of the University. I got to bed around 3:30am. We woke at 7:30 and her and I were the last to arrive at breakfast. I guess it was supposed to be at 8. I showered and was glad I brought a towel (one of those small, dry-fast ones) as there were none. Two days without showering was okay but it was nice to feel hot water on my body, finishing off with a cold shower (it was short).