Skip Monday, go to Tuesday

One of my coworkers says it always seems to take people eight days to adjust to the change in time zones. I would hope for something shorter, but we'll see.

As we rode in from the airport, JW would point out the window and say, "When I first visited here in May, those buildings weren't there. And that was just open space over there." I mentioned before that construction is going on everywhere, and that is no exaggeration, just plain fact. I have not seen a single block of a single street that didn't have work in progress. Old buildings are being ripped down, new ones are going up, sidewalks are getting redone, cranes adorn the skyline in every direction. It's simply mind-boggling — I swear 50% of the population is involved in construction, and the other 50% are out on the sidewalks or riding bicycles or in cars. I've been told that by law or decree or something, all the visible construction has to be done in a few months (I forget the exact date), so they'll be finishing up the outsides of all the buildings and working inside after that. All the cranes are supposed to be gone. Already, I'm told that workers are camping out in the buildings they're working on, and our future office space is housing the security and construction staff who work there. Work goes on 24-7, so you'll see sparks from welding in the middle of the night.

The Kuntai Royal Hotel is one of the nicer hotels I've stayed in, with marble in the room's entryway and bathroom, nice furnishings, and attentive service. I've taken some pictures, but don't have a way to get them out of the camera right now since I didn't bring the USB adapter for it. There's an electronics store close by, so it shouldn't be hard to find one.

Later: As you can see, I've taken care of that.

As I mentioned previously, there's lots of neon. Parts of this town are like Las Vegas or Tokyo in that respect. Very fancy light shows going on. Last night I saw an arch over a street that was like a rainbow with the colors flowing from either side to the center. I think that was down near Tian'an Men Square, though it was dark and I didn't see the square itself. Everything seems to shut down around 11pm, so in that respect it's different than Las Vegas.

Tuesday morning I went in to our temporary office, which is in a run-down old hotel called the Huabei. Half of the building still seems to be a hotel (the A side), and the other side (B) is the Beijing Olympic Media Centre. They have a lot of press conferences and so on down on the 2nd floor. We're on the 4th, and there's a sign that says Forbidden City Film Company when you get off the elevator. The hallways are lined with posters for Chinese movies. But it's a dingy, smelly old building with ratty carpet and lousy ventilation, and our part of it is in the center so we don't even have any windows. The smelly part comes mostly from cigarettes. It is very strange for me to see people smoking in the office, and the lack of air circulation doesn't help. Every once in a while I have to get up and walk out into the hall for air that's slightly fresher.

Tuesday the Americans of the office walked a few blocks from our building to a restaurant for lunch. We had one Mandarin speaker with us, but they also had a big color-picture menu, so we could just point at what we wanted. We ordered way too much food, which was of course served on a big lazy Susan in the center of the table so we could all help ourselves to what we wanted. I liked most of the dishes we had. And yes, it was not like Chinese food I've had in the US. Before we got our food, they brought out a live fish flopping in a net for our approval. There was a kind of salad made from very thin strips of celery, a dish that consisted of pecans or walnuts glazed with a sweet soy sauce, a very strange looking kind of mushroom, and a bunch more. The fish came steamed and filleted in a very attractive presentation, and tasted delicious.

After stuffing myself at lunch, it was especially hard to stay awake. Between the jet lag and the full stomach, I was nodding at my desk. I got back to the hotel around 6pm, took care of a bit of email, and was in bed shortly after 7 without thinking about dinner.

I woke around 3:30 and only slept fitfully after that.

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