Friday, December 21, 2007

Our First Day in China

We've arrived in Beijing! After 12 hours on a plane I've never been so glad to touch ground. My first observation was the smog that immediately burned my lungs when we stepped off the plane. The traffic was also something of a shock. I've never seen cars get so close and not touch. It is difficult to explain the amount of cars, the honking, and the lack of order involved in driving. Carrie and Jacob live about an hour from the airport. It took us quite sometime to get to their apartment because of the traffic. It was dark, so we weren't able to get a clear impression of the city...other than the fact that it was difficult to breath. We stayed up until 9:30 so we could adjust more easily to the time change and then finally fell asleep exhausted.

This morning, after showering (the bathroom doesn't have a shower, it's a shower head near the toilet with a drain), we set out for the village. It certainly is a different world out here. We did the very thing we were warned against and sampled lots of street food: sweet bread, salty bread, fried bread, and roasted chestnuts. All yummy. There are tables set up along the streets where fruits and vegetables, raw meat, chickens, etc. are for sale. Cute little dogs roam the streets, mostly hanging out under the tables where the meat are. The dogs are filthy, eating out of the piles of trash that grace the streets. I really want to give them my food, but Chris isn't quite so ready to share. It is difficult to explain how odd this world is to me. On the street this morning, I saw a chicken being slaughtered for someone's dinner. It was actually quite humane, I suppose. I made myself watch the man weigh the bird, then hold back the wings and slice it's neck with a knife. For an animal lover, China is a bit hard to take.

For lunch, we ate at a restaurant with some of Carrie and Jacob's friends. Carrie managed to order for all of us (every Chinese in the place was watching and listening to her pronunciation--they seem to enjoy listening to foreigners attempt their language). The food was delicious--dumplings, fried bread (it didn't resemble bread at all), and fried noodle. I wanted tea until I saw the teapot which was crusted brown on the inside. I guess it was just brown from tea leaves. It didn't stop us...we still drank it. It cost 50 cents for one bowl of soup.

Tomorrow we venture back into the city. For lunch and then the market. I can't wait!

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