arriving in beijing (january 12, 2011)

We have now been in Beijing for 5 days and I am exhausted!! We arrived late Thursday night local time (after pulling an all nighter Vancouver time) to our house, which had had no heat for two months.  Although they had turned it on when we called from the airport it was freezing… turns out it takes about 48 hours to get the cement walls warm.  We have three beds, two couches, one desk and a dining room table with 8 chairs.  Luckily I brought three rolls of toilet paper from Vancouver because we needed them for our first night!  I also packed bedding.  We some how managed to stay awake til Chowder arrived (so very happy to see us!!!), then I bundled into my fur coat and fell asleep.

Up early the next morning with repair guys coming to hook up the TV and tell us what we would need to have internet, then off to Beijing Ikea.  The largest in the world.  The place was packed, maybe 20 million people!  We shopped for three hours before getting into the check out line… another 45 minutes.  We enjoyed our first meal in China of hot dogs and soft ice cream standing in line waiting to pay.

We spent four more hours shopping, but in local stores, haggling over the price of everything.  Our last stop was a grocery store where John spent more on a bottle of wine than we did on Jack’s desk.  Too tired to watch our just hooked up television!!

Saturday we planned on a down day as we had been warned the stores get seriously crowded… apparently what we experienced was nothing!  Took Chowder for a long walk in the shocking cold.  The absolute temperatures are not too bad but the wind is fierce… feels like a thousand tiny knives going after your face.  I am hoping it works like dermabrasion and my skin will be smoooooth!  The air here is so dry you can hear your skin sucking in moisturizer.  The good news is absolutely no frizz…. Everyday is a good hair day!

Finally went for our first Chinese meal with John’s colleague Howard and it was divine!  We also discovered a western grocery store that takes charge cards (most things are cash only, including million dollar houses) and another shop selling dvd’s for $1.50 each! We were assured they were legal!?!?

The boys started school on Monday, Hunter only for a few hours while he picked courses and Jack for the whole day.  It went ok!  Actually, better than expected and Jack was willing to go back again today.  Although, when he said he could walk by himself I did hesitate for a moment before saying OK as I thought there was some chance he would just grab a cab, go the airport and head back to Vancouver.  Every time my phone rang I worried it was the school calling to tell me he was missing.  The school is only a five-minute walk from our house and is gorgeous, like something out of a brochure for perfect schools. Doesn’t quite feel real. Stepford School?

I have hired a ayi (housekeeper) who doesn’t speak English so have ample opportunity to use what little Chinese I learned before we left.  Hoping I will learn more quickly!  I am loving the challenge of communicating.  People speak a lot less English that I was expecting.

I had hoped to do a facebook page or a blog of our adventures but have yet to figure out how so for the time being will be trying to document our experiences in a series of emails.  Let me know if you’d prefer I take you off my list!

Thank you to everyone who has emailed me… I love getting them and will respond soon, I hope.

XO Julie or Zhu Li (as I am now known!)

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