January 4, 2010 at 6:40 am (general life)

It’s only 2pm. (Photos now uploaded, and another paragraph at the end.)

Today Beijing has smiled upon us once again, putting on a beautiful blue sky that (except for the snow) makes the city look like spring (and no sign of pollution). It’s colder than yesterday, though – the forecast was -9 to -16. Now THAT’S refreshing. But my feet didn’t get wet, so I was fine. This photo is from yesterday, when it was still snowing:

We planned to go and see the Great Wall, but the train to Badaling (the section we planned to go to) was “a little delayed”. We chose to wait an hour, then give up (we gained no information of any kind in that time – for all we know, the entire stock of Wall-oriented trains had been eaten by yeti).

I just did a super basic google search and discovered this article saying that, on Sunday, the buses to Badaling were stuck on the expressway for twelve hours because of heavy snow. To me, that indicates that the snow is heavier to the North (which is where rain and snow always come from), and it stands to reason that the high levels of snow also stopped the trains (but will be melted enough to get through by tomorrow).

A pretty building:

At a certain point last night, my initial manic joy suddenly vanished and my mental illness popped back up. It’s always a surprise when I’m having fun and then suddenly want to throw myself out a window.  My body isn’t 100% happy with me walking around in the snow, so I decided to look after body and soul and go home. Best of all, I sent the boys off to see the art galleries (I can live without seeing that) and went home – by myself.

Photos my partner took at the galleries:

That was excellent. The boys dropped me at a train station on line 2 (the line that goes to dongsishitian, which is the closest to Bil’s house) and my partner hugged me goodbye in an especially endearing manner (evidently not sure we’d ever meet again). I walked up to the station and was immediately refused entry. The man spoke no English, so it was MY language skills – MINE, I tell you! – that gained me the information that it was closed, but the next station entrance along was fine. I spoke to a Chinese lady (all in Chinese, because I rock) along the way, and double-checked she was heading to the station. She was.

And then I went home, as easily as if I was travelling in Sydney (easier actually, because the trains are better here).

Before that, I came perilously close to successfully ordering a delicious and very cheap and healthy (ish) lunch for the three of us. I established that we wanted chicken, understood the server’s explanation that it was served in bread, and that it was spicy. I was able to say, “We don’t like spicy food” but not strongly enough (I needed to say, “We don’t have spicy food” – a word that I already knew). Bil took over for me, and the meal was very nice.

I now communicate as well in Chinese as I did in Indonesian after five years of studying (at which point I went to live with Indonesians for six months, and became properly fluent). Fundamentally, with the friends I already have here, I could move to Beijing to live, and would be able to get around on my own. Except of course that only REALLY stoic people can survive here.

All the same, I’m sure that once I’m home I’ll miss the gentle Siberian breezes. If only because. . . well, okay, I can’t thing of ANY possible reason to miss Beijing’s wind.

—–a bit later in the day—

We went to the same local Chinese restaurant (as Friday) for dinner, and ate much deliciousness. The taste for today is pumpkin chips (the same size and shape as fish and chip shop ships), battered in egg yolks and fried in something delicious – again, perfectly crisp and buttery. I’m definitely going to attempt to make them when we get home.

One mroe gallery photo, just for fun:


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