{February 21, 2008}   beijing

I’m enjoying beijing so far, despite the bad air :)

I got off the train monday morning, and some people who had been in my cabin took me to the subway since they were going the same direction as me, and told me which stop to get off at. they even insisted on paying for my ticket. :) the only downside to this was that I didn’t have a chance to buy a map on my way out of the train station.

after getting off the subway, people only seemed to have a vague idea of where I was trying to go (despite my directions being copied off the hostel website) – so I wandered in what one person said was the right direction until I found somewhere selling maps. after that I think it took me half an hour to figure out where I was and where I was going – but I wasn’t in any hurry. once I got the map figured out, the hostel actually wasn’t so hard to find. :) I showed up at building #1, and they took me through the hutong to building #2. I haven’t a clue how to get back there – hutong appears to be chinese for ‘a maze of twisty passages, all alike.’ ;)

the hostel itself is quite nice. very old, but in good condition, and the people here are quite friendly :) there are a couple of guys who seem to be staying here for a while – coincidentally, one is from canada. they seem to spend a lot of time eating and making terrible jokes. ;) I went shopping with one guy, and he’s really good at bargaining. :) he helped me get a pair of pants and a jacket at reasonable prices – now I just have to figure out how to fit them into my suitcase when I go home :P

the food here has been fairly good so far. I had a bit of trouble getting vegetarian stuff for dinner today (one of those “it’s not got *much* meat in it” places) but on monday I had no problems at all – when we went for lunch one of the guys didn’t eat any meat either just ’cause we’d already ordered plenty of yummy veggies. :)

it’s been kinda weird adjusting to central heating again. when I arrived, it was a cold morning – I’m pretty sure I saw a frozen river a few minutes before the train stopped – and the wind made it even colder. the hostel was somewhat heated, but I kept my layers and layers of clothing. :) all the rooms open onto a little outdoor corridor, and some people tend to leave the door open…

the conference hotel, on the other hand, was heated excessively. I was slowly stripping off t-shirts as the day wore on, and other people were commenting on the heat too… it was uncomfortably warm :/ but it was still quite cold outside. on the second day I wore less layers, and no long-sleeved shirt, but it was still a bit too hot. there was a lot of static electricity, too – someone said that the hotel power outlets aren’t really grounded :/ every time I picked up my laptop I got a shock. I’m praying that it didn’t damage the poor thing.

today, it seems spring has arrived. when I went out for food, I only wore two t-shirts and a jacket – no big winder coat, no gloves. :) hopefully this means the lake is less frozen, ’cause supposedly the lantern festival is tonight.

et cetera
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