Monday - Our first day in Beijing

     After arriving in Beijing and having changed our watches, Monday was more than half over. Passing through the three checkpoints went rapidly allowing us to finally emerge into the area where crowds were waiting. One more gate to maneuver through and the advice that Chinese don't hug was thrown to the wind. We were greeted by a hug from a young man whom we had never met saying what sounded like, "It's so nice to miss you." Of course, after a moment I realized this was Tang Jing as professor from Beijing Institute of Technology and that he was clearly saying, "I'm so glad to meet you."

     My second Beijing airportbig hug came from Yulin Kang, our student from Western Oregon University. The third greeter was Yulin's husband Xiaojie Zhu, also known as Jack. I sympathsized with him as he speaks no English and so while we missed all the discussions that occured among the Chinese, he missed the conversations in English. The culture changed cell phones were constantly busy as Yulin contacted our driver for the moment to coordinate our pickup location. Tang also took the lead in getting our tickets for our flights on the next leg of the journey next Saturday and the exchange of some money.

     At this point we were very confident that we were in good hands as we headed to the car and found our bags already packed by Zhu. Then we followed our driver to his car, or at least to where he thought he had parked the car. He realized we had taken the elevator to the wrong level and our confidence waned. We returned to the elevator and for some reason he thought he should go up and we went down. Our confidence waned even more. After a few moments he emerged from the elevator and we found the car.

     Actually the airport which is beyond the outskirts on the northeast corner of Beijing is not far from where we are staying. map of NE BeijingThe Central Academy of Fine Arts is on the northeast corner of Beijing just beyond the fourth ring. Let me comment on the rings. Beijing and many China cities are very well planned and layed out in straight roads running north and south and east and west with right angle intersections. In the center of Beijing is the Frobidden City (more on this after we visit it). Beyond the Forbedden City is a road and circumnavigated the city. Beyond that there is another ring circumnavigating and city. After that another which is essentially the fourth ring. The may appear to show the emergence of even another ring as the city grows. This fourth ring may be about 20 miles in each direction.

     At the AcademyPhilo and Yulin we were met by Philo Yang, our official host at the Academy. She looked more like a college student than staff. She graciously showed us two rooms very comparable to a clean Quality Inn motel in America. There is a TV which speaks exclusively Chinese (although I understood the soccer game) and a microwave, but no Internet connection, wireless or wired, so we're handicapped there as far as sending these messages out. Neither was there a refrigerator which Yulin was counting on because she brought us three big bags of groceries including cheese and fruit. I did also find an English speaking news station: CCTV.

     I'd been reading on the plane that Chinese are collective and family oriented and so relationships are more important than business so we chatted for a bit before laying out the plans for the future. Having done that we went out to a restaurant as a end of the first day in China treat. They negotiated a fare with a driver and for ten yuan (about $1.35, our exchagne rate was about 7.5 yuan per US dollar) we rode for about four minutes to a large four story building with signs adversitising several businesses. We were told it was a country club. The restaurant was modest, we seated ourselves (seven of us) and the Chinese hosts ordered but turned out to be more than we needed. The setting was a pair of chopsticks resting on a small marble stand, a small plate and a napkin.

     The first two plates contained a fish appeared to be dried and sliced into bitesize pieces appropriate for chopsticks, and what appeared to be a bread and unknown vegetable soaked in a dark delicious sauce. After this the dishes came continuously until the table was full. A beer was split among the three Americans, tea tea was served around and Zhu went ot the car to bring us some cold red tea. The red tea reminded me of the red tea from Mississippi. One plate was whole kernal sweet corn fried in the shape of a large pizza and coated with sugar. A pot of soup on a flame was a tomato beef which I think was recommended by Jary and Sally. Another soup came in individual bowls. In my bowl was a backbone of the duck; in Mary's a webbed foot and in Zhu's the duck head cut in half. Mmm!


steamed bread   duck foot in soup   duck head in soup   first Beijing meal

     By now it was a mere 7:30PM locally but some 30 hours after getting up for the flight on Sunday morning. We were not ashamed going to bed early. Actually I have not adjusted to the local time as I awoke about 2:00AM and am writing this entry. More on that in day three, Tuesday

     Here's a picture of Tang and Philo, our new friends in Beijing.tang and philo

 


Updated September 4, 2007
Denvy Saxowsky©