adventures in the people's republic of china and beyond

Thursday, June 29, 2006

 

Arrival

It looks like I can access Blogger from behind the Great Firewall of China. In fact, I haven't noticed any blocked sites yet, although I haven't had time to do much web surfing.
EDIT: OK, the weird thing is, apparently you can access the Blogger dashboard to update your blog, but you're not allowed to actually look at any blogs, including your own. Fortunately, I have a few ways to circumvent the internet block.

The trip here was relatively painless; I was able to sleep on the plane more than I usually do, and I met all sorts of interesting people in the airport. The flight across the Pacific is about 13-14 hours, and from Seoul to Beijing it's about 2 hours.


In-flight bibimbap. This won Korean Airlines the 1998 award for best in-flight meal. Unfortunately, it wasn't the raw beef kind.


Somewhere over the East Sea.


Seoul/Incheon airport is pretty cool. If you don't like the bathrooms there, you can call the designated janitor and complain. I certainly couldn't find anything to complain about.

I had planned on a short trip to Incheon to wait out my 5-hour layover, but then as I was walking towards the bus stand I realized I had left my camera at the customs desk. I ran back in 5 minutes and it was already gone, shattering my beliefs that Korea was one of those countries where people just didn't steal things. However, all of the Korean airport staff that I asked were very helpful and tried their best to help me find my camera. After two hours of running around I realized I may have left it at the immigration desk after I got off the plane. I persuaded the security guards to let me back through and sure enough, one of the airport staff had noticed it and kept it for me! As he presented me my lost camera, I felt a strong affection for the honest inhabitants of this land that produced kimchi, Shin Ramyun and the world's #1 Starcraft player.


20,000 won. I love South Korean money; it makes you feel like you're loaded buying things that cost several grand. 20,000 won is about 20USD by the way. Sometimes I wonder why they don't just issue a new won that is worth 1,000 old wons; I guess Koreans think being multimillionaires is more fun.


Plastic food displays, a common sight at many Korean and Japanese restaurants.


Kimchi soup and a can of Pocari Sweat. This set me back 12,000 won. I would say Kalbi House's kimchi soup tasted a bit better, but then again, this was an airport restaurant. Pocari sweat, despite the funny name, tastes more or less like Calpico water. Which tastes kind of like a sports drink. This meal came with a really tasty dried squid banchan.


Goodbye, Korea. I'll be back in a month or two. If I was ever thrilled at being mistaken for Korean in the US, the novelty certainly wore off here. Hanguk sarami anieyo, chungguk saram ieyo!


Immigration at Beijing airport. This picture doesn't really do justice to the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe Socialism with Chinese characteristics.


Row upon row of monolithic apartment buildings. A common sight in Beijing.


There are certainly a lot of bike riders in China, but nowhere have I seen the huge masses of bicycles you sometimes see in movies. I also noticed that there aren't very many motorcycle riders in Beijing, in contrast to cities like Bangkok, where they cluster up at intersections and fill spaces between cars in traffic jams.


Room with a view. My home for the next month.

I don't think I've taken enough pictures of Beijing to do a "Beijing is really crazy" post justice, so give it a day or two. The problem is that 1) I don't really want to carry my camera around all the time, because it could get stolen 2)I feel weird pulling out a camera in public and taking pictures of completely ordinary(for here) things and 3) Experiencing Beijing's craziness every day, as well as my previous experience with large Asian cities, sometimes makes me forget what people back home would find interesting.

But anyhow, Beijing is really crazy. Check back in a day or two for a full Beijing post. If anyone has any questions about China or funny photo requests, leave me a comment and I'll try to find out for you.

Comments:
It is really crazy how now you are in China and my brother just got to Korea. I can't believe how cool Chinese Allyson is.

 

That is definitely Chinese Allyson. You should meet her. Somehow...

 

Man, forgive me for saying this... but that's so crazy that you're actually in China. China to me is like this place that I'll never get to go see, because "I'm too stupid to speak the language and it's too far away and I don't have enough money to get there anyways..."

Anyways. I'm glad you're getting to do this. Have a great time while you're there. Have you been to many resturants yet? There's an experience I'd like to have...

That is just too freaky - the chinese allyson. she looks way too much like allyson.

 

Dude, I know. I've been here for three days and it's still kind of like, wait...so I'm in Beijing? The capital of China? No way!

There are tons of foreign students here from the states and other places. They warrant another post themselves, but anyhow, I just wanted to say that I've met plenty of people from abroad that don't speak any Chinese and are getting around Beijing absolutely fine. If you ever want to go, just let me know.

So far I've been to a few restaurants and I'm really enjoying the food. Though the street eats are not as plentiful or as good as in Bangkok.

I was actually just taking random pictures from the car and only later did I notice that there was a girl riding a bike in one of them and that she looked just like Allyson.

 

look pravit, I'm commenting, you egomaniac. Have fun in China.

 

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