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Achievement Unlocked: Survived Beijing

It’s 8:46 am on our last day in Beijing. And though I hesitate to say it for fear of a jinx, I have to say: So far, China has been almost shockingly easy. Now, granted, we’re in the capital city, and Western culture is pretty much everywhere. (Around the corner from our hotel: KFC and McDonald’s.) And if we had to navigate the city solely on our own, I’m not sure we could do it. Many signs are in English, but most aren’t, and even Google Maps and GPS seem a bit unreliable here.

But through trial and error, pantomime, and a resolve not to freak out, we’ve found ourselves able to deal with whatever’s come up so far. We’ve also found that simply saying “Thank you” in Chinese (Xie Xie, pronounced “SHEAY-sheay,” or roughly thereabouts) earns us big points with the locals and helps them not get too frustrated with us. It also tends to make them giggle.

It also helps that we’re very obviously Westerners, and thus something of a novelty. I explained in a previous post that got eaten than when we were at Tiennanmen Square, we had locals coming up to us to get their picture taken with us. Because, white people. I think China is so daunting for so many Americans (most definitely us included, before this) — not to mention literally half a world away — that the locals just don’t see Americans all that often. So that helps, too; we’ve found that anytime we’ve asked for help, locals have been very willing to make a real effort to help. This is something we should keep in mind once we’re back home, and encounter visitors to our strange land.

But we’ll see if that changes tonight. This evening we fly to Chongqing (you may remember that name because OMG THAT’S WHERE ELEANOR IS), and it’s much further inland, and not nearly as much of a tourist destination as Beijing. That will probably mean our White Novelty Magic will be more powerful, but the whole experience could be more foreign. On the other hand, Chongqing is still one of the biggest cities in the world, with a population of 28 million. (For reference, that’s nearly three times the entire state of Ohio.) And big cities are pretty much big cities wherever you are, I suspect. At least, that seems to be the case with Beijing.

Anyway. We leave the hotel around 11:00 today, whereupon we’ll kill some time with our guide before heading to the airport. Of our group of seven families, I believe four of us will be heading to the airport at the same time. But we split up there, each going to a separate province to pick up our children, so we’ll be flying solo for the next few days. (That’s not as scary as it sounds; we’ll have a local guide hand-picked by our current guide.)

We arrive in Chongqing around 8:00 tonight. Kim has just informed me that the Chongqing Beer and Music festival is going on, so I know what I have planned for this evening. Tomorrow, we will venture to a small local establishment to buy formula and a stroller, a place called — and I may be getting the translation wrong here — “Wal-Mart.” And then, tomorrow afternoon? We become parents, for real and for ever.

Since I’m not sure how much energy I’ll have to blog in the next couple days, I’ll just tell you our rough plans for the first few days of our time in Chongqing: 1. Freak out a lot. 2. Stare open-mouthed at our new child. 3. Sleep any chance we get. 4. Order room service. 5. Freak out some more. 6. Maybe venture out into our immediate area, provided it is not preempted by 1, 2, 3, or 5.

We will, at least, make an earnest effort to post some pictures tomorrow evening. (That’s Monday morning to you strange Western people.) Just don’t expect much in the way of coherence.

I’m blogging via a different method today, so I’m going to try to post some more pictures. Hopefully they’ll come through.

Love to you all,
-joe and Kim







1: Angeline on August 6, 2012 at 12:02 am



2: Gram on August 6, 2012 at 9:58 pm