Lesson 1: food

The first order of business is to not die, and therefore food. After registering at BLCU today it was way past lunch and I was very hungry, so I went to a local restaurant. I asked if they had tofu (你有豆腐吗?, thank you Jun) but they didn’t. They did however realize that I wanted some vegetable dish and showed me the menu. Since explaining that I don’t eat meat or fish (which were swimming next to me) didn’t deter them, I ordered something that looked vegan enough. Tea was served with the food, but since I was thirsty and hot I asked to have some water too. Much to my surprise, the water was even warmer than the tea. I though this was simply the custom, but was later told it’s because the tap water is undrinkable, so they boil it first. After eating, I went to buy a bottle of water.

I tried my luck at the food game again some hours later and went to ask at a street stand if they had tofu. They didn’t, but once again this resulted in me being shown the vegetarian options. Paying was interesting… the price was 1 yuan, but I tried paying with a 1 jiao bill, which is 0.1 yuan. To add to the confusion, the jiao is called mao in speech, so reading on the bill is of no use. Anyway, a child explained to me and I was able to pay for the meal in full.

I have arrived

Yep, here I am in Beijing. It’s 12:44 local time and I’m at my mother’s friend’s friend’s husband’s brother’s home. Jetlag will no doubt strike me down soon, so I’ll be back with more later…

Motherfucking snakes on a motherfucking plane

Yes, today I went to see Snakes on a Plane with a bunch of friends. I mostly missed out on the online hype that has been going on, but somehow though it would be a good idea to see it. I laughed a lot, because it was so bizarre… Samuel L. Jackson’s line “I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!” was apparently added after shooting first finished to please online fans, but it felt completely misplaced and didn’t really work.

In short, it makes no sense… the WTF factor is quite high and makes it almost enjoyable, but really… I’m not going to make a list of how it doesn’t make sense, I don’t doubt others have got that covered. The title is pretty awesome, so expect even worse movies parodying this movie in a year or two.

Onwards to victory!

Victory is near! I’m getting on a plane to Beijing in less than three weeks. I’ve got my visa but I haven’t looked for a place to live yet, which is a source of concern for my mother and a source of excitement for myself. The plan is to stay at a hotel the first night and then try to find something. I’ve located BLCU on Google Maps. If you zoom out you can see that it’s to the north-west of the Forbidden City (the big rectangluar structure).

There will be a entrance exam on the first day, so I’ve been studying a little in my spare time in the hope of being able to get into a non-beginners group. Part of that “studying” has been watching Chinese (Mandarin) television dramas. I’ve seen a few good Taiwanese dramas (It Started With a Kiss!), but it seems as if all the popular mainland dramas are martial arts and/or period dramas which have failed to impress me. It appears that some of the voices are dubbed which makes it all seem a bit “off” (dubbed in the same same language as the actor speaks, just like old Hong Kong movies). I wish I were German, then I wouldn’t notice. (I wonder if it’s easier for a ventriloquist to fool a German audience…)

My summer internship at Opera turned out super-awsome and I’m going to keep working part-time the whole year while I’m in Beijing. Getting experience working in China would be awsome, so I hope I’ll have a chance to spend some time at the Opera office in Beijing (although I’ll mostly be working at home, wherever that is). I discovered that Beijing is “bigger” than Linköping, so it might take a long time to get to the office by bus/subway, since it’s not in the same district as BLCU.

I’ve been doing some reading on Wikipedia and found out all sorts of useful things: There’s a chopstick tax to discorage the use of disposable chopsticks. Beijing has population of 8.5 million (Linköping: 136,000). The girl:boy birth ratio is 100:117 due to policital/cultural reasons. Beijing taxis have license plates that begin with 北B. The average height of the Chinese is approximately 170 and 160 cm for men and women respectively. China holds the world record in capital punishment. Finally, you can’t see the Great Wall of China from the moon!