Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Travel Day & Arrival

I arrived at the Beijing airport at about 5:30pm, Tuesday evening. Once I stepped out of the plane in Beijing, a wall of humidity hit me. The temperature was only 29 degrees but oh my goodness did it feel hot! I had no troubles going though customs or the quarantine check (they are still on the watch for SARS). On the other side of the boarder, I was under no illusion as to what country I was in there were Chinese people everyone, hardly a foreigner in sight. I could hear talking but it was all in Mandarin and Cantonese. I had a hard time finding my departure gate for my connecting flight to Fuzhou. There were very few people who spoke English, and those that spoke English didn’t speak it very well. This surprised me because Beijing is a major international airport for China. After paying airport tax (again) and going though another security check, I eventually found my departure gate. The waiting areas were very crowded and noisy, I was very glad to move on to the next plane.

My flight to Fuzhou was very pleasant; the people were very kind, not aggressive and pushy like those at the airport. I met a nice man on the plan who was returning from a business trip in New York with his wife and daughter. He gave me his contact information, should I need anything during my stay here.

Upon arriving at the Fuzhou airport, I had to go to the washroom (too much green tea). I was shocked when I discovered that the toilet was missing its trunk, there was no place to sit, I gathered I would have had to squat. I decided to skip the washroom and wait for one at my new home. There is only so much adventure that I can take at a time ;) Once I cleared my baggage, I received a very warm welcome from my future colleagues. I was very overwhelmed, there were six people (teachers etc.) waiting to greet me as I sleepily stumbled though the exit gates. At the time, I knew by the heartfelt greeting that I received; I would enjoy my stay in China .

So far, by what I've seen of the Country - Hollywood has done a pretty good job of mirroring what the country and the people are like. There are people playing cards on the side of the street, rickshaw men that wear grass hats and stalls on the side of the road, where you can get a meal or pick something up at the store. We stopped at a few places to find something to eat (they wanted to feed me) but everything was closed. In front of the restaurants, they have security police, I guess to keep things safe. We finally stopped at a stall to get some fried chicken and fries (tastes like KFC), which took about half and hour to prepare (not fast food).

We arrived at the school shortly after 1:00am. The school is very big; it is made of cement to keep the rooms cool. There are two floors, which contain classrooms, and one, which has dorms (the teachers live in the school). There is also a common room, which has a TV, and a couch. My living quarters are quite big, considering the stories I’ve heard about apartments in Japan. I have my own private washroom (flush toilet included). The bathrooms here do not have separate stalls for showers, the showerhead and faucet is attached to the wall. There are bathtubs in the city apartments similar to back home, but they bathtubs are too small!


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