It occurs to me that the last few posts have focused on pretty mundane things like laundry and shopping and furniture and so on. No exciting scenic vistas or cultural landmarks. But these domestic things really interest me. When I read about (for example) ancient Egypt, the pharaohs are interesting, but I’m really curious about how ordinary people lived in that time. What did they eat for breakfast? How did they get around from place to place? What did they do in their free time? What did they think about the godlike pharaohs who ruled their country? We can’t all be rich and famous, and honestly I think ordinary people are just as interesting as rich and famous people.
So as my contribution to the satisfaction of the curiosity of other people who feel like I do, here’s my current stab at A Typical Day in Beijing, for me at least. I’ve been getting up around 6am, showering and getting dressed. Two or three times a week I have a conference call involving people back in the US, and those are mostly scheduled at 7am China Standard Time (3pm Pacific Standard Time). Around 8:30 I walk down to the entrance to my apartment complex where there are always taxis waiting. I take the first available one to our temporary office at the Huabei Hotel. It usually takes about 20 minutes and costs about ¥24 (around $3.00 US). Sometime between noon and 2pm, a group of us at the office (usually only the American expats) walk to someplace close by for lunch. Occasionally we have food delivered, if there’s a meeting scheduled and not enough time to go out. Back to work for the rest of the afternoon. Around 5 or 5:30 we start heading out, either in taxis or with our usual driver, depending on who’s going where at what time. In the evenings I’ve been fixing myself a simple dinner, then going online and writing this blog or CD reviews. Sometimes I walk to one of the nearby stores for supplies. Sometimes I watch CNN, or ESPN if they’re covering soccer (“Tonight a story about David Beckham in which he actually plays football.”). To bed between 10 and 11. Oh, I forgot to mention the Fruit Man. Every afternoon, a vendor comes into the office with fruit, and somebody buys some. I think it must be one or more of the women in the office. After his visit, she comes around and puts a banana, an apple, a pear, or a couple of small oranges on each desk. I’d have to say they’ve all been very good.
Pretty exciting, huh? At some point I might work some days at home since my internet connection here is much faster and more reliable than what we’ve got at the office.
One day I was the only non-Chinese speaker in the office, and got invited to lunch with seven of the men in the office. Oddly enough it seems that the women who work there never have lunch with the men. Anyway, we went to a nearby restaurant that specializes in porridge. This porridge is a thick rice soup with various other ingredients added. The menu had nice color pictures of everything along with descriptions of the health benefits of each dish, including their effects on the Yin and Yang. I picked chicken and spinach porridge, and my Yang has never felt better. We also had a variety of other dishes, most of which were quite good.
I haven’t had a chance to check out much in the way of Chinese music yet, though tonight I found Rock in China, a website that has a few radio shows available for streaming.
Last night I went to Carrefour, a store that reminds me a lot of Fred Meyer (for those readers in the Northwest). I’ve heard it’s the world’s second largest retail chain after Wal-Mart, and it’s based in France. One thing that makes it appealing to me is that many products are labeled in English beside the Chinese, so there’s less guesswork involved in shopping. They also have a lot of imported products from Europe and the US, so I can find cheeses and cereals there. I bought sheets, towels, some kitchen items, coffee and milk. It was wonderful to sit on my conference call this morning with a mug of fresh coffee in my hand.
Tonight’s big news: Freddy Adu looking toward the English Premiere League, and a trial at Manchester United. Well, I don’t suppose DC United can compete with that.
Not a lot of photos for today’s entry, so I’ll throw in some from past days that didn’t fit anywhere. This is from the elevator in my building. You count the buttons.
This is the view in another direction from my apartment. Just beyond the fancy new buildings of Seasons Park, you can see an older, typical Beijing block of flats. I don’t know if you can see from this view, but the air conditioners were added on and have their wiring coming out across the outside wall in a way that looks strange to me.
And this is a fast food meal I had. Bruce Lee is prominent in the logo, and as far as I can tell the English name is Kung Fu. This is one of their combo meals. It was not especially good, and the soup (upper right) was kind of unpleasant. I put a picture of the outside of this restaurant back on the 29 October entry.