Tuesday, March 20, 2012

China [3/8 - 3/10]

 The journey begins. 

I boarded a plane from San Diego to San Francisco on Thursday, 3/8 to meet Nicole to take our flight to Beijing together. It was SO GOOD to see my friend as she got off the plane – to know we were taking this journey together. We headed for the International Terminal at SFO & were kindly greeted to what will most likely be our experience in China. Lots of people crammed in a small space. We loaded the plane & settled in for our 12 hour journey. It was a LONG flight. I played games on my phone, read & watched movies. Only slept about an hour. We got up every so often to stretch our legs too. 

We landed in Beijing around 4:30PM local time on Friday, 3/9. We proceeded through Immigration without a problem, found our bags & found our driver from the hotel. Nicole’s good friend - Bailu, who is native to China & attended SUU for 2 years, met us in the lobby & guided us through the check-in process. Most everyone speaks some form of English but when you run into trouble with credit cards, misspelled names, etc. – It’s nice to have someone who speaks Chinese.  

Bailu walked us to a great restaurant that is famous for its peking duck. She ordered several fun dishes off the menu for us – fried lotus root, kung pao chicken, broccoli w/garlic sauce that was all delicious. The duck was good & they carved it right at the table for us. 

I was feeling the effects of being awake for 24 hours straight & still felt like I had sea legs – or air legs – whichever you want to call it. We headed back to our hotel to settle in for the night. We both had a hard time sleeping through the night.

Saturday I awoke at 4AM and never went back to sleep. We took our first crazy taxi ride to the China World Hotel Exhibition Center for the CIEET College Fair. We met our agent, James, who spent the day with us as an SUU representative & translator. We asked James questions all day about how things really work in China. It was very interesting. The fair was VERY busy the first few hours. 

Chinese people are very ENTERPRISING. We received stack after stack of business cards for agents, printers, schools, pizza delivery, etc. People would just simply walk by & drop their business card at our table. Everyone is in 2 -3 businesses at once.

If they are very interested in getting to know you or working with you they will start conversing with you. They have the most beautiful way of presenting their business cards to you. They hold it in the corners with both hands & kindly present it to you. It’s like a gift.

After a rest at the hotel we headed back out & grabbed a taxi to the Silk Market. Taxis are very cheap here – we haven’t paid over $5. The Silk Market is a huge 7 story building that houses a ‘swap meet’ of anything & everything from purses to luggage to scarves to clothes to jewelry to rugs to an optometrist. We were ACCOSTED as soon as we walked in the front door & the ladies at their booths will literally block your way if you show the faintest interest in their goods. They will hold your arm & continue to bargain you down as you try to make your escape. You constantly hear, “Hey lady – You look. You like.” “Prada. Gucci. Coach.” “For you I give you pretty discount.” We scored some cool finds.

We finished the night off by eating at McDonald’s. Sad, I know – but we’ll have plenty of time for Chinese food. My Spicy Chicken combo was only $4 [usually over $6 at home] and was VERY spicy. McDonalds is swanky place overseas – great décor, music + a coffee/dessert bar. We had an icecream to top the night off & grabbed a taxi home.

I’ve been able to Skype with my family a few times. It’s a lifesaver making me feel a bit closer to home. It makes me laugh when Keller talks about me being in China – I think he thinks it’s like driving to Cedar City. When I woke up at 2:30AM this morning I kept thinking about how he was just finishing his T-Ball game & how I wish I were there to see it. My husband is a trooper & my Mom is a help & I couldn’t ask for better.

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