Monday, 22nd, February, 2010. We
got up today at 5 o’clock. I didn’t sleep very well. I kept on waking up
throughout the night. Also just before the alarm went off at 5 I had a scary
vivid dream, I was walking along an apocalyptic dark beach, watching the dark
rusting ships in the sea sinking one after another, then I found that I to was
in the sea and that a big storm was coming, I didn’t know which was to turn
because the storm seemed to be coming from every where. Then I woke up
I had a quick shower and Sarah and I both
got our things together. Mum and Dad helped us down the stairs with our bags.
As I was wheeling Sarah’s wheelie bag to the road one of the wheels broke off.
In my morning gloomy spirit I thought that this was a bad omen. We waited on
the dark empty road and after what seemed like an eternity a taxi arrived.
After we had loaded the baggage into the taxi Sarah told her parents to go back
home but they ignored her and bundled into the car with us. It was very sweet.
When we arrived at the train station it was surprisingly busy for 6 o, clock in
the morning. Sarah and I got on the train by barging through the crowds and I
even managed to trap someone’s foot between the door and the step going up to
the carriage. Chinese people have not learnt to queue. I don’t think it’s in their
nature. Its an aggressive experience getting on any sort of transport in China.
You have to fight to get on. People slip past you and no one lets you go first.
When I got on the train I slumped against
the wall panting and felt relieved that we had made it. While I was catching my
breath the train started moving and I didn’t even manage to wave good bye to
Mum and Dad.
When we arrived in Taiyuan we just crossed
the tracks and waited for the fast train going to Beijing. It was very cold
still and I was glad that I was still wearing my thick long johns. I think I
would have died of cold if I didn’t have them on and to think the only reason I
was wearing them was because I could not find my thin one just before we left.
Fate was on my side in the pantaloon department. It was interesting to see the
modern fast train to Beijing. Before I got the sleeper train which was an old
but quiet beautiful looking emerald green train which looked like it ran on
steam. It took 8 hours from Taiyuan to Beijing, but this fast train only took 3
hours. It had hostesses who looked like air hostess; there was no smoking on
the train either, they had a little bar, I had not had any breakfast so I got a
self heating meal. It was a pork which tastes like fish dish with rice. You squeeze
out the pork onto the rice and then put the cardboard lid onto of the box, pull
a string at the bottom and some liquid chemical reacts with something else
which heats the tin tin and then in ten minutes you have a piping hot meal. I
thought it was very spacie.
We arrived in Beijing and slowly worked our
way out of the massive west station and called Ray, the owner of the company
who is employing me. He was small and normal looking, I think he would be a
good spy, I cannot even remember what he looks like. Anyway he drove us
silently to his office and we waited around while he made a photo copy of my
passport. Then he took us to our hotel, on the way I asked “when will I get my
text books?” He looked very shocked and said “oh no no, we do not do the text
books here”, Oh no I thought, so I don’t get a text book to teach and I will
have to do the lesson plans myself. “But Lily (the person I had been talking to
about the job all this time) said that I get a text book to teach”. Ray looked a
bit embarrassed, “oh ok yes yes we give that to you later that is OK”. I realized
that he thought I meant tax book. I though it was very funny but I also got a
little pang of apprehension for some reason.
We arrived at our hotel which was clean and
had a big room. Sarah and I were both pleased with it and also with the fact
that the company paid for our stay there. We met another of the teachers there
who was a young man called Steven, he was a Goth from Canada, well not a true Goth
he didn’t have the make up on, but he did have a long black leather coat and a
sullen look on his face. He gave me a limp damp hand shake and then thankfully he
and Ray left us and we relaxed after our journey. I was a bit displeased because
we had been given almost no information. I had been told while I was still in Xinzhuo
that our tickets to Haikuo had already been booked, but when we arrived in Beijing
Ray said that they had not booked our tickets yet and that we might be leaving
in 2 or 3 days. Also the fact that Ray brushed away my question about the text
books. I got a very small gut instinct which told me things were a bit off.
After Sarah and I had a shower we had some
dinner at a nearby Si chuan restaurant, we were the only two people their but
it was very nice, the couple who ran it were cheerful and friendly and
obviously from Sichuan Sarah said because of their accent, although I could not
tell at all. They gave us giant portions and we only finished half of the meal.
After that we caught a bus to the centre of Beijing. It took about 1 hour and
made me realize that living in a big city involves a lot of traveling around. We
got to the centre with the intention of watching Avatar 3D, but both of the big
cinemas we went only had it in 2d and with Chinese dubbing. We both noticed
that there were 2 other new Chinese films, one about Confucius and the other
with a cheap captain jack sparrow lookalike as one of the kung fu characters.
They have taken Avatar off lots of screen in China. I think the cinema industry
wants to promote Chinese films.
We walked around the shopping centres and
had some Sushi and ate at many of the stalls in the food court. I had a strange
Japanese ice cream with marzy pan and jelly. It was amazing. But I ate it too
fast. Sarah got some sour tangy dried fruit and we both had a fruit drink.
Sarah had a rose drink, which was great. It tasted exactly like roses smell.
Then I had a kiwi fruit drink which was also good. Later both tired we got the
bus back to our hotel and fell asleep fast.