Ballgowns, Beijing, and Boots

January 1, 2010 at 11:10 am (general life)

So my husband and I are in Beijing.

I weigh too much now to fit any of my jeans, so I bought thermal and tracksuit pants before I left – but wore a massive velvet ankle-length ballgown my friend made me (years ago) for travelling. It worked great, even if it does make me look like a weirdo (if the shoe fits. . .). I also wore my boots, which I’ve had for years and which have been visibly dying this year – which made them perfect for Beijing, because it means I have warm footwear for a week, and can then throw them away when we go to Indonesia. Unfortunately the plan backfired when EACH boot had a catastrophic fail en route. Oh well. They’re holding together again now, and I’m optimistic.

The two things that most frightened me were: travelling (especially yesterday, with a twenty-hour journey, and more than half of it spent in one flight ie trapped with strangers – scary), and the cold (the average temperature at this time of year is between 0 and minus ten – I just asked the American guy beside me what it was, and he said, “Between mind-numbing and death”).

The travel was relatively okay – travelling with my husband dampens my panic by heaps. On our second flight, the guy in front of me had his seat fully reclined before the plane was even loaded. I hated him, his stupid big head, and his stupid toilet-brush hair. The flight attendant made him lift it back up when she was handing out drinks. Later, I was trying to sleep hunched over on my food tray when he suddenly went back again, almost trapping me between the tray and his stupid chair. I didn’t do anything violent (always an important plus), but cried like a girl.

When we did get to sleep in a real bed in Beijing, I was so exhausted (and light-headed, since it had been about ten hours since dinner) that it felt as if the room was swaying.

All good now though – that was our biggest travel day for this whole trip.

Oh! And we saw fireworks going off from the plane.

At Beijing airport, we witnessed the wacky sense of humour of the locals when our plane let us out-out. That is to say, outside. At midnight. With our big coats, naturally, still zipped up in our checked-in luggage (on its way to the distant terminal). Happy New Year.

It was great! We had scarves, jumpers, gloves (two pairs for me) and beanies with us, which turned out to be enough for a short slab of time outside. So that was the worst of my fears dealt with.

Today we spent quite a bit of time wandering around the local area (this time with borrowed coats made of down, which are BRILLIANT), and it was honestly fun – cozy, even (because the down jackets are SO warm). I did feel a teensy bit like my eyeballs were frosting over, but what’s a loose eyeball on such a nice day?

In an hour or so we’re going to a gig (my brother in law is a musician living here, which is why we came to Beijing).

In 2004 I studied double Mandarin at the Australian National University.

The instant we entered Sydney airport and joined a bunch of Chinese people in line, my Chinese language came flooding back (and, in places, expanding). It feels entirely superhuman to go from a cautious “hello” to “Oh, he’s my husband, that’s my brother in law, and I really like Beijing thanks. Please may I have two orange juices and some bread” in 24 hours. Being superhuman is a nice feeling. I’ll probably have a vocab of several hundred by the time we leave (in less than ten days).

I’m writing this from my brother in law’s sharehouse/flat, so I should be able to blog quite regularly.

We also ate (of COURSE) Chinese food. Everything we ordered was deep-fried (including the beans, which were wonderfully buttery and crunchy) and I am in loooove.


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