I think I might have been a bit hard on China thus far. If you stop and look around you it’s amazing the things they’ve achieved in the last few years – and I should be appreciative of their hospitality. I admit that when I first landed, I was absolutely exhausted. And the smog was pretty thick. The next day the smog was even thicker and perhaps the overcast sky made it worse – but buildings I’d seen from my hotel window the day before were no longer visible. The dreariness and unpleasantness of it was kind of overwhelming – that and arriving by yourself and missing your husband and all was a little damper on everything too. Yesterday it rained a bit, You could see the bank of clouds obscuring what was left of the horizon, rolling over the buildings and to my great relief, it actually started to clear things up. It rained a little bit in the morning/afternoon, then cleared up, and last night after being in the office later, I walked home in relatively fresh feeling air. This morning, to my great astonishment, if you looked up, the sky was actually bluish! (there is still a haze around the edges, but at least when you look through at near the azimuthal – maybe a 45 degree spread, it is bluish. ) And sunny. I really hate to admit it, but that gloom and dust covering smog and gray just took it out of me. (and HOW does micro. Word have ‘azimuthally’ but not ‘azimuthal’ in it’s dictionary??)
I’m told it can come back quick. Actually, there are a lot of very impressive and positive things about my stay, already, and it’s looking better.
Saturday and Sunday I pretty much just walked around and got my bearings. I woke up at 2 and 3am both mornings, and so it was way too early to get up, so I would often just call Josh or do some reading in the mornings, then try and take a nap. This was relatively successful and at 9 I got up again for good. The problem was that I was also getting exhausted by 4 in the afternoon, so my days started extremely early, and ended equally early. I am trying to study for the physics GRE, so I did that and called Josh – and did some catch up on emails and stuff I’d kind of pushed to the side.
People often say that no matter where you are, the one thing you can count on is that a Coke always tastes like a Coke, wherever you are. It’s not true. I had a diet coke on China Air from Tokyo to Beijing (I hate to admit it, but I’ve gotten very used to the taste of Diet coke since I’ve spent so much time around Josh 😉 and granted I was absolutely exhausted having finished a 12hr flight from Minenapolis to Tokyo, but, the diet coke tasted SO horrible I couldn’t even finish my drink. And it was from a can! Usually you can trust the canned stuff, even if the fountains sometimes mix it wrong! I chalked it up to exhaustion, but I’ve since had diet, and normal coke and they all taste icky. Haha. Good way to kick the habit!
I also admit that on Sunday I was feeling a bit glum and kind of wanted something familiar, so I went to McDonalds. I generally try and stay local, but… I just wasn’t really feeling it. Outside of the tourist industry, English is still very much unspoken by the locals. When it was my turn in line, I tried to point at what I wanted (a Sunday and a small fries) and the girl looked confused. She traced out a square in the air and I realized she was wondering if I wanted the picture menu. That’s a trick to remember! I nodded yes. She brought it over and I pointed at the stuff I wanted. She rung it up and I waited for my order. Everything else in China is pretty amazingly well priced, but McDonalds is just about equal (often it’s more expensive in other countries, so that’s actually nice – in France it was exorbitant!) 14 RNB ($1 ~6-7 RMB, but you should factor in the conversion fees and stuff). McDonalds also often has a unique menu for it’s expats to savor from. Apparently, in China you can get a side of corn with just about every meal (instead of fries? The healthy alternative?). Also, something I’ve never seen in my life is what looks to be watered down orange juice (but it looks fizzy) with a twist of soft serve on top. Where’d THAT come from MickyD? I think I’ll have to sample one before I leave. They also serve what would generally thought of as KFC chicken (roasted or breaded and crumbly, drumstick style). The funny thing was that of the 6-7 meal sandwiches they offered, the minority were actually hamburgers.
(I don’t know what hte problem is, but I had some pictures to load — they’re not working. So I’ll load them later)
I got my fries and Sunday and sat down. Sad note. They don’t serve Heinz, and I hate to say it but… that really IS the American sauce, and the other stuff, and I mean ALL the other stuff, just ain’t the same. Whatever it was they were getting from their China supplier tasted like it’d been sweetened with pineapple juice. Maybe it rates higher in Chinese test groups as it ‘s closer to a sweet and sour or something.. who knows. Also very interesting was the fries were probably a ¼ as salty as I’m used to getting. It was a little disappointing. You don’t go to McDonalds to be healthy. You go there to get happy. Kind of like an Adventist bar. No one goes to a bar to drink mineral water! I want my salt and my Heinz and that poison flavored coke! It was fun to visit, but it didn’t really do the trick for me Sunday. I walked back to the hotel, which by the way was very nice indeed, and skyped Josh. Then was proud to have made it to 6(?) before I fell asleep.