First time on this blog? Beijing Traffic Lesson: Left Turn is probably a good place to start.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Well, I've survived a day...

A little disorienting, but so far so good.

Here's a funny thing: I actually can't access my blog in China. Apparently blogspot.com addresses don't come through, even though I can manage my posts from the Chinese language page I posted yesterday.

Fortunately, I have a workaround, so keep posting comments!

Anyway, the flight was pretty uneventful except for getting into Tokyo late and having to run to make the connection to Beijing. Once I landed, there was a driver to take me to the apartment.

At this point, I had been on the go for something like 23 hours, including airport time in Minneapolis, so I pretty much did everything the apartment receptionist indicated, including handing over 500 yuan ($60-$70, I guess) as a deposit for something I still don't understand - the receipt was all in Chinese.

The apartment is nice - very spacious, lots of windows and very close to work. I had a serious panic attack when I was unable to get on the Internet and couldn't figure out the phones, but once I calmed down and called the front desk, they did something to make the Internet work - which was amazing, because I wasn't sure either of us understood each other.

I've managed to destroy two things since getting here. The office chair that came with the desk was apparently not designed for someone of my generous proportions, because when I sat one of the wheels popped right off. I also thought I was being clever by bringing a power strip, which I plugged into a converter, at which point it exploded. (OK, maybe not into pieces, but it popped and scorched and gave off smoke.)

Other than that, today was about getting oriented and not starving. I went for a few walks, found a grocery/other stuff store where I bought an alarm clock, iron, and enough ramen to last me a few days (I can't read the packaging, so I chose them based on the colors). For dinner, I located a KFC - sue me, I wanted something I could recognize!

So far it's feeling a bit "Lost in Translation"-ish - very few foreigners that I can see, and while many people know a little English, between that and my poor Chinese, there's a lot of smiling and shrugging going on (except the doorman at my apartment, who apparently has been shown the Western art of hand-shaking, which he demonstrates by charging at me grinning with his arm extended straight out whenever he sees me.)

But I'm getting by, and I'm sure it will get easier. I've been able to talk to Shannon several times, and I successfully ordered bottled water for my room entirely in Chinese. I've found an ATM (it works just fine) made a couple transactions and fed myself (hunger is a great motivator to get me to interact with people.)

I guess I start work on Monday, so hopefully I'll start meeting people who can show me the ropes a bit. Until then, I just need to get my body adjusted.

Speaking of which, it's time for bed. Sorry for the rambling message!