Newsflash: People in China speak Chinese

We made it!

Sorry to everyone who has been waiting for confirmation on our arriving unscathed. When we arrived on Saturday we had been traveling for 35+ hours and were exhausted! Sleep on the journey had been few and far between. We had popped sleeping pills on the first flight and each gained 2 hours of sleep there. When we arrived in Korea we convinced Jake to let us nap before doing too much else and were able to grab another 2 hours on his floor. On the flight from Seoul to Guangzhou Ben stayed up but I was able to catch 3 hours of shut eye. When we finally arrived at our hotel, however, it was the middle of the day Beijing time. In an effort to get over jet lag quicker we decided to stay up until 8 pm (5 am for those on Pacific time) however, eventually Ben just couldn’t take it anymore and crashed on top of the bed around 4 pm. I followed suit 2 hours later. Of course, this meant that we woke up at 1:30 am Beijing time. Sill wanting to get into this new rhythm, we again popped sleeping pills and this time didn’t wake up until 8 am Beijing time.

For all you math wizzes out there, that means Ben got 16 hours of sleep and I got 14! But we definitely needed it.

We decided to finally wander out of the hotel for a little exploring. We also had the lofty goal of acquiring groceries. Of course, in order to do this, we had to get some cash- RMB. So we went to an ATM that was partially in English. It rejected our cards. So we went to a bank hoping to exchange some US dollars. I sat in a chair and the woman said something lengthy in Chinese. I smiled, because that’s really all you can do, and handed her some US dollars. She shook her hands and said something else in Chinese that I’m pretty sure meant, “No, we can’t do that.” So I gave my head half a bow, said Xia Xia (Thank you) and walked out. Once out the door, we both cracked up laughing (although the whole wall was a window, so I don’t know why we waited to leave). Just as we were starting to wonder if we were going to starve to death before our first day of work because of our inability to do simple things (like get money) we found an ATM that was enabled to accept foreign cards.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but being able to finally get cash and get groceries was a huge accomplishment for us. We were starting to get down on ourselves because of the seemingly simple things that we weren’t able to do: unlock our room door (turn the key right, hold it there,  and push), open the glass door to the hotel (there’s a little button you have to push first), turn on the light, connect to the internet, make our new SIM cards work, communicate with people, etc. You know, the little things that you do everyday just to survive and you don’t usually think about. Well, here we have had to think about it. Of course, it doesn’t help that we stand out like sore thumbs, are easily recognizable, and constantly have people staring at us (especially little children- cute!). Anyways, finally being able to get cash so that we could feed ourselves finally made us feel like we could do this.

With that feeling bolstering us on for our next accomplishment we sought our next adventure: groceries. We entered a little grocery store. Nothing too big. In fact, little more than a convenience store. It was here that we discovered something: Chinese people eat Chinese food. Now, of course I knew this. But I didn’t really know know this until we tried to find some food and couldn’t find anything familiar. Finally we settled on some rice dumplings, some peanuts, yogurt, a bottle of orange juice, and a large jug of water. You can’t drink the water here. Even the locals don’t. In fact, it came highly suggested that we even boil the water that we use to rinse our toothbrushes with. (By the way- the toothpaste the hotel provided us with was chamomile flavored… weird).

It seems like I’m just jabbering on about little things. But so far those little things have been huge. We finally figured out how to open doors, use ATMS, get food, activate our SIM cards, made friends with our receptionist (she’s a lifesaver! and I didn’t offend her too badly by forgetting to provide her with slippers for entering the apartment- Chinese don’t wear shoes in homes) and a neighbor from India kindly set up our DSL for us. Looks like we’ll do ok. 🙂

For the rest of today we’ll lay low and watch Chinese television until we allow ourselves to sleep (still tired). Tomorrow is our first day of school- wish us luck! 🙂

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