Welcome to Beijing

3:47 am.  I am wide awake.  Jet lag.  Welcome to Beijing!

I landed last night, after the longest flight I have ever taken.  Thirteen hours and forty minutes, beating my previous 12-hour flight.  I made it in one piece, after being shaken like a martini due to heavy turbulences.  All the baggage was here, and my hubby was waiting for me, beaming.  I didn’t care about cultural taboos and gave him a huge hug and a big kiss.  Then, look for a taxi we did.  Language is a barrier.  The Great Fire Wall is another.  E. was showing the address of our hotel to the driver, using Google maps.  The driver can not access Google since it is blocked in China.  That led to a few minutes of confusion, attracting 3 other drivers to our rescue.  I was tired, happy, and didn’t care.  It takes about 40 minutes to reach the serviced apartment where E. has been staying for a few weeks.  It was already dark and raining.  There was nothing to see, nothing “Chinese”, nothing unusual.  We could have been in Germany, with Chinese signs and expensive cars.  We passed the Bentley and Rolls Royce showrooms.  Nothing looked different.  It was not until we reached downtown that I started seeing “fun” things, namely their little tuk-tuks.  They probably have another name, but it’s the same concept: a scooter pulling people with an awning over their heads.  They are so much smaller than in India, I am not sure the two of us would fit in it, I will let you know!  The drivers, as well as people riding bicycles were covered in rain ponchos, and the pillion rider was often carrying an open umbrella.  That, you do not see in India, where they simply stop on the side of the road and wait for the rain to stop.

We are in a swanky place.  All nice and fancy and clean.  Really clean.  The room is rather small, but we are moving into our permanent place in two days, so it doesn’t matter.  I fell asleep pretty much right away.  I vaguely remember our dinner being delivered.  Sweet slumber.

Jet lag.  Bam.  There is nothing worse than being awake in a new city, with things to see and things to talk about, all alone. So I woke up my hubby!  He’s now installing a VPN, a magic box that allows us to jump over the Great Fire Wall of China, and access sites that are censored here.  After less than 8 hours in the country, I have encountered it three times: all Google, including mail and maps are off limits. Facebook as well, a forced Facebook break will do me good anyway.  And WordPress, which hosts this blog!  We got a voicemail from the fraud department at American Express.  Someone had used our card in China.  Duh!  So E. called.  They need to send a one-time password to the email on file.  A Gmail account.  Great!  Get on computer, try and access VPN.  I hear a call of victory “VPN from Taiwan, bingo”.  Retrieve password and settle fraud dispute.  The guy on the phone was Indian, so I yelled Jai Hind!

I nibbled on a couple of dim sum (Chinese dumplings) that had been delivered when I was asleep.  One was yummy, the other had bean paste in it, and I don’t care for that.  While E. was calling clients in the US, I took a shower.  I may regret it since I forgot that the water is not filtered and I rinsed my mouth.  Rookie mistake. 

In a few hours, after some more sleep and breakfast, we will go to the Forbidden City.  Cross that off my Bucket List.

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