Inaugural Post in China

We’re finally here! And there’s so much to talk about but so little time and really energy on my part to write it. We left Sunday night/Monday morning, one of those effective vs. actual thingies. We had a little trouble getting our carry ons approved by the airline. Apparently, there’s a 7 kg weight limit, which is just over 15 lbs. Now my thinking is, my laptop probably weights 7 lbs, Maria’s laptop weights probably 5 lbs, and then there’s the actual bag itself and we’re pretty much at 15 lbs now aren’t we? So I’m thinking, this is entirely, and completely, unreasonable. Thankfully they didn’t ask to weigh my laptop bag, but our two actual pieces of carry on, as in none personal item, had to be weighed. After a good bit of complaining, I managed to convince them to let me take one of them; we had to leave one behind with my father to bring over. It’s a little unfortunate because we had planned on having the contents of that bag with us, so we’ve been a little under stuffed while we were here.

At the gate, some kind of middle management looking official for the airline with too much time on his hand gave me a similar amount of hassle for the one bag that I was able to bring on. He said it’s too heavy, I said if it’s too heavy, how come I was approved by the lady at the terminal to bring it? (I neglected to inform him that I had wheeled and dealed my way into that one…) I think my logic was overwhelming enough that even though he threatened to get his supervisor to come look at the bag, as I passed him on my way up the plane we simply exchanged polite nods and smiles. So we were on our way, properly!

The flight was uneventful. Taipei was hot and humid, like mid 80s at 6 in the morning. It took us forever to find our terminal because their flight information TV screens scrolls really slowly, and Maria wandered around and got us some drinks while we waited. The flight to Beijing was uneventful as well. And I think they must have made some kind of policy changes at the Beijing airport but immigration was VERY easy to get through. It’s like they’re trying to make sure they do everything quickly. We got through the health inspection with no problems, although I found the infrared fever sensors neat, got through immigration with no problems and faster than I’ve ever done so before, got our bags (the bright green ribbon really helped, I’m glad we chose that color to adorn them with), and waltzed through customs with nothing to declare without any issue.

We met my cousin at the airport, got two taxis, filled them both with our suitcases, and left the airport. Having surpassed all necessary gate keepers, we had made it to China.

The taxi ride was, again, uneventful. I couldn’t help noticing all the young trees that they had planted, all the construction projects going on, and just how different the skyline really looked. Apparently, and it may be wrong, but there are 40 million people all trying to live here, so I can understand the need for more and more apartment complexes. But it’s perpetually building, and not like in the States where there’s some foreman wearing an orange vest talking on a phone not really doing anything; work is actually being done. It’s also the 60 anniversary of some National Holiday for the Communist Party? So everything’s being adorned with very pretty flowers and there’s been lots of military exercises apparently. There’ll be 8 days off work for these people come early October.

That first night we dropped our stuff off at my father’s apartment, then walked over to the local grocery store to purchase some supplies, notably shampoo and conditioner. My cousin went with us and he gave us the general feel for the neighborhood. Obviously, we had no good idea which one was the conditioner, but there were lots of very nice Chinese women working for the grocery store who tried to help. We also got soap, toothpaste, and Diet Coke, or more precisely Coke Light. My grandparents had been napping when we arrived, but were awake now and were able to instruct us on how to get our temporary residency cards.

We went down to the local police station, a monument to bureaucracy with shelves and shelves of exactly the same colored and shaped binders. The lady who helped us was very nice, though we had to wait a little bit because she was dealing with some other people before us who had a whole slew of issues to complain about. Again, and I think this is new, but like at the airport and immigration, there were these little buttons with cartoon faces on it, from very happy looking to very sad, meant for us to use to rate their performance. Since this was our first time registering, we needed photos so we walked half a block to a photo store where a very decently Photoshop savvy Chinese woman took our photos, cropped them down to the appropriate size, adjusted all the levels manually, straightened, and duplicated into a grid of fours to print for us. By this point, our temporary residency cards were ready, and we headed back to my father’s apartment to chat with my grandparents.

In short, they’re old. 93 my grandmother and 95 my grandfather. We wanted showers, and to spread things out a bit. We all agreed to get dinner along with my cousin and his wife.

I think I’ll end it there for now. I just got called by my grandmother to go and get lunch. I still need to write all about our adventures yesterday, but I’ll leave that for another time, NOT another day, and hopefully this blog will be all up to date.

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