American headlines I’ve read while in China. Sorry, no links. Don’t have time right now:
“In Food Safety Crackdown, China Closes 180 Plants” (NYT) – Hmmm… shall I stick to my peanut butter sandwiches? Really, we’ve been eating them everyday for lunch. It’s far easier than trying to order food.
“Text Messages Giving Voice to Chinese” (Wash Post) – It’s quite clear from my Intro to Chinese Law class that if the NPC doesn’t like something, it gets squashed. I guess text messages are a little tougher to suppress.
“Wider Sale is Seen for Toothpaste Tainted in China” (NYT) – I’ve been using my hotel supplied toothpaste morning, noon, and night (sometimes). I hope my teeth don’t fall out.
“U.S. Family Tries Living Without China” (Reuters) – The family says it’s not because they don’t like China. That sounds like BS.
“F.D.A. Issues Alert on Chinese Seafood” (NYT) – I ate a lot of shrimp, some fish, and stuff I can’t even name the other night. I wonder if the F.D.A. would like me to bring some samples home.
“Why Marathoners Won’t Break Records in Beijing” (blog.foreignpolicy.com) – It is truly filthy here. Smog hovers, like I’ve said. The articles says the levels are two to three times what is “healthy.” You don’t see anyone working out outside here. It’s weird.
First thing I’ve done in Beijing worth noting.
The Silk Market is a six floor building filled with authentic knock-off jeans, shirts, shoes, pearls, watches, statues, golf clubs, etc. etc. etc. They have anything you want, and it’s as cheap as you can bargain for.
The clerks will literally grab your arm and pull you into their booth. Some people don’t like it, although I found it entertaining and only mildly invasive. The workers also speak very good English, so communicating is easy. Bargaining is done by typing prices into a calculator and finding a middle point.
I bought a pair of white Gucci loafers. They look good, fit well, and are really really white. Dirty Haidain, Beijing will be a great place to break them in.
I’m in the Haidian District of Beijing, China, which (I guess) everyone likens to Silicon Valley. It’s in the northwest corner of the city. On my walk to the Tsinghua Univeristy where we will be taking our law classes we pass Microsoft and Google, however these are the only indications of this being the tech center of Beijing.
The biggest culture shock so far is how filthy and smoggy the city is. The streets are covered in dirt and the trees are all tinged grayish brown from the heavy smog. I have not seen blue sky since being here. We have already seen on little girl peeing on the sidewalk in the middle of the day.
The second biggest shock is getting around without knowing the language. I was looking for the Continental breakfast yesterday morning and kept running into service people trying to help me that knew no English. I would just say, “Ni Hao… Food,” then bow and walk away when it became awkwardly clear that they had no idea of what I was saying. In retrospect a Chinese dictionary would have been helpful to bring.
Everyone stares at us when we walk around. I was told this would happen, but it’s weird. I was walking down a hallway in the hotel and one of the workers was eying me. We keep saying, “Ni Hao,” which is hello.
The supermarket is interesting. Everything is in bins on the shelves instead of being packaged in boxes and freestanding on shelves. The seafood section is very well stocked, although mostly with fish I am scared to walk within ten feet of.
So, that’s the topical take on Beijing so far. More to come.