I haven't seen that much of it, but I am amazed by what I find, and at times, amused by my amazement.

Friday, November 27, 2009

First Post from Beijing, China 2003

This was originally sent as an email on 1/17/2003.  The pictures were taken a few days later, and are added here

Apartment Life in Beijing 

Nie hao,
Today is the first day in an apartment in Beijing. I moved out of the Jian Guo Men Hotel yesterday and into a 13th floor apartment in an 18 story building, two subway stops east of the embassy district. The apartment is $900 US per month, or about equal to what I was paying at the hotel at $30 US per night. This
apartment is very nice. Except for the kitchen, which is small, everything is first class. There are two bedrooms (one with a king-size bed), two baths, laundry, a huge dining-livingroom, comes completely furnished down to sheets, towels, and dishes. It has two phone lines, high speed internet, heated floors,
and hand painted copies of famous artwork on the walls (normal for China). The rent for the two months I will be here is slightly more than what I get in one week for per diem expenses. I can handle that.

I walked around the neighborhood a little bit to get acquainted with where things are. There are about 30 different restaurants within a 4 block radius of the apartment. It will take a while to figure out where the GOOD places are. There is also a barbershop that Ed, the previous tenant, told me about. For 70 Yuan (about 9 dollars), you get a shampoo, haircut, head massage, another shampoo, and then you go upstairs for a full-body massage (with clothes on!). The whole thing takes about 90 minutes and comes highly recommended by Ed. I'll have to try it out.

Today, I also went to Beijing's famous Silk Market. It is a collection of mini-stalls that encompasses a full city block, hundreds of vendors in narrow lanes crowded with locals and tourists. Everything from silk to jade to Italian leather and North Face arctic jackets are available for the right price. The price being how hard you can bargain. Many items that originate in China can be had for ten cents on the dollar of what they would go for in the States. North Face jackets that sell for $200 in the US can be bought for $20 to $25.

Beijing does have a smog problem. The night sky is a murky haze that reveals only the six or seven brightest stars and planets and the daytime sky looks like a major forest fire is just over the horizon. The sun rises as a dark red ball and needs to be up for a couple of hours before it clears enough pollution to be too bright to stare straight into. I have had a sore throat since I got here, but I think I am getting over it.

As soon as possible I will get some pictures of Beijing posted. Stay tuned...

Beijing at night from my apartment