Sunday, September 30, 2007

This book will save your life

If you are going to become an expat in Beijing, there is only one book you will need. I hadn't heard of it before I got here, but one of the other teachers had it and I was so jealous. I envied him right up until I saw one on a blanket for sale, and bought it for 10 RMB.

It tells you where you can buy large shoes, and how to adopt a chinese child.


So while this may not be a photoblog, there's definitely some vlogging going on.

I don't really know that no one takes their coffee black, it just seems really rare, as I've not yet seen anyone do it, it's very hard to find instant coffee that doesn't contain sugar and powdered milk, and my English Corner class went completely insane when I told them that I drink good coffee black.

I got it, I GOT IT

I am very happy that I captured this moment on video. Even if my camera was set to ultracompact, "youtube" quality.

What you're seeing here is the opening ceremony to the track and field day at the high school. They did it up as a mock olympic opening, with individual classes dressing up as previous olympic countries. So this is what I saw at 7:30 in the morning yesterday.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ginger Root

So my throat is killing me. I spend four ours a day speaking at the top of my voice, I'm living in the most polluted city on earth, and I've got a cold. My throat hurts. First thing in the morning is the worst. Either that or the moment in class when my voice just suddenly gives out and I'm speaking in a little mouse squeak for the next few minutes. Thankfully, food is cheap here and lemons are available. I've been living on a stead diet of tea with ginger, honey, and lemon.

that thermal coffee mug with the lid that actually seals is quite possible the most useful thing I brought with me.

Monday, September 24, 2007

This is not a photoblog

So look, at restaurants, there's no water. There's tea, there's room temperature coke, but there's no cold water. I think it's part of a complex belief system where tap water is unclean but bottled water isn't classy. So basically there are no cold drinks.
Except beer.
It doesn't look that big in the photo but these beers are huge, they're everywhere and they're ice cold.
Help me.

Video Test: meet me at the mall

Five storeys, five hundred plus booths on each story. I found a jade wedding ring within three minutes. I also bought some three-foot-wide coat hangers (think about it...), a new lamp with lightbulb, Hey look video works maybe!

Feet on the ground

So here's the view from our apartment. Visibility is about normal. The smog here is no joke.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Traffic in Beijing is weird
The first time I got in to a cab I thought we were going to die. We drove at 45 mph through busy streets, disobeying traffic lanes and stoplights.
Everyone drives like this.
A few rules:
If someone's in your way, honk. It doesn't matter if they're waiting for someone in front to move, it doesn't matter if they're re-paving the street, just honk.
Streetlights and crosswalks are just there for show. If you think it's possible to cross the intersection, do so by all means.
How many cars wide is this lane really? do you think maybe just maybe you could fit between those two busses? Well there's only one way to find out!
Does that bicycle lane (divided from the main street by a concrete barrier) look kind of empty? Well then drive right in! If a few cyclists get in your way, don't worry. Honk.

Here's the thing: it's safer than back home. I don't look both ways before crossing the street any more.
If someone's coming, I know they'll honk. No would ever hit a pedestrian without seeing them because pedestrians have the same attitude toward traffic laws that drivers do: I swear I see a guy walk across six lanes of traffic against the light every day. I've seen people drive by each other with at high speed with inches of clearance (I'll convert my anecdotes to metric later), I've seen city busses honking at old men on bicycles, I've seen people riding motorized scooters through a gridlocked intersection, everyone honking all the way. Drivers expect that if you see them, no matter if they've got a red light and you're in a crosswalk, you won't get in front of their car. If a car approaches you from behind, even if you're walking down the middle of an expressway, it'll slow down and ever so politely honk until you move.
It's beautiful, it all works, no one expects anyone else to follow any rules except seeking the shortest path from A to B. Nobody hits anybody else because they've got the right of way. Everybody's always watching. You never know when a tricycle pulling a wagon loaded with cardboard will pull into the fast lane.

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