My life in a blog

IMBA Chinese Track student at The University of South Carolina, Moore Business School, I'm currently living in Columbia, SC and traveling all over the place

Check out my other blog: My life in pictures or better check out my Flickr account

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Jasmine plant home delivery

Today was supposted to be a normal day... and it was for most part. We did go and signed up for the gym, found a really nice new restaurant, spent some time studying in our favourite caffe, shopped for groceries at WuMei (chinese version of WalMart) and bought lamb kebabs on the street.

While heading home late afternoon, we (me and Stephanie) saw these two guys that were carrying arround bikes with platforms filled with flowers. We were talking back and forth that a flower in the house should be good and here we see these two guys. We looked at plants for a while and liked the jasmine flower. Price went down by 40 yuan just looking and then leaving and after some 5 minutes bargaining, we got the plant down to 120.

The funniest part is still to come... since they told they can deliver it to our place, we were very happy and accepted. We found ourselves immediatelly walking down the main street with two huge bike platforms filled with plants. It is just not something you see everyday, it was definitelly a very funny view and feel for all the other Chinese people: 2 foreigners walking down the road followed by plants!

Update: once we got home, I realized we can again see blogs. BLOGSPOT has been unblocked. Thank you China!!!

Friday, March 23, 2007

blocked blogging

This is a test blog post to see if it actually works. It seems that ISPs here in Beijing have blocked access to any blog. Also other websites seem to be blocked, such as Wikipedia...

Sunday, March 18, 2007

we are back

Ok... I'm back on the Internet. At least for a while...
This morning, the CNC (china national phone company) person came over to install an ADSL connection. The connection that we had was as slow as a dial up connection so we decided to go and try a new one.

For different bureaucratic reasons, we had to also accept a new fixed phone line on top of the one we had already. Together with the other internet that we still have, it can be said that we now own 2 Internet connections and 2 phone lines but we only use one of each. It sounds confusing, but that's China.

I guess things have to be in complete harmony, so One Internet goes with One phone line and the others match together.

After 5 hours spent trying to hook up a Chinese ADSL modem with a Chinese Wireless Router, we are back on the Internet full speed (Chinese speed anyway).

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

one to ten

As of today, I can proudly say that I can write from one to ten, actually until 99 in Chinese and pinyin. This is big news...
Today, for lunch we tried one of the many Chinese fast food type place, we spent about 11rmbs per person (just about $1.3) including the famous Coke. It was not wonderful, but it was OK.

Ordering at the Chinese restaurant is almost impossible for me if the menu has no pictures... so I try to be around people who can speak or understand some menu items. Normally, a lot of the foods have a poetic description so unless you know what that is... you can have surprises.

Therefore, ordering from a restaurant is always a challenge.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

school started

I am now a student at a Chinese University. All the schedule was written in Chinese, together with the building and the room number where the classes are. Luckily, my name was written as Adrian Rusu so I can recognize at least what section I am in.
So far, I have started a spoken and written basic Chinese class. We start with the basics: initials, finals and then tones. It doesn't seem difficult because we are repeating what we studied in the US already but as time goes by, going at a face pace... it will seem overwhelming.

The first day felt like high school: a lot of people, chaos and noise everywhere, small classes and new students. In my class, we are 12 students: one from France, Russia, Germany, Japan and a couple from Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia. We are pretty much around the same level: maxium 3 months of Chinese study.
I still can't read the class schedule so I take all the books and notebooks with me all the time, but it's fun and I can now write Ni3 Hao3.

Monday, March 12, 2007

eating little sea horses...

I feel very bad for these sea horses, they don't taste that bad, but not that good either.

eating a weird bug on a stick...

I promise I will not try stuff like this in the future because looking back at it is kinda sick... but enjoy it anyways!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

different views of Beijing

Today, we decided to try the subway out... because we went out again last night, we managed to go out of the house around 2PM. We found a subway station after a 15 minutes drive with a taxi in a very strange area. All the subway stops outside of the main line seem to be in remote areas.

We ended up in Wang Fu Jing market, east of the heart of the city. The area can offer the visitor within seconds completely different views on Beijing. One can spend the whole day in a 7 floor story high Book Store, or pay high prices on all the "hautte coutture" fashion shops in the various department stores. Just minutes away, there are side streets, which can show the visitor the old city, busy streets and some crazy food being cooked. I have to brag about eating some strange insect and sea horse... yuck!!! (look what peer pressure does to people)
Barbara, Sarah's friend visiting from Korea, tried every single weird thing that we found... from scorpions to locusts.

I have actually seen the real Nike, Gucci, Adidas and other brands who are highly hunted in the fake markets. As you are in the stores, very few accept International credit cards so people will always have impressive amount of money to pay with.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Tea drinking experience video

Even though the internet really hurts me, I was able to upload this video in the night.

worst thing in china so far

There are so many amazing things about China so far that it could take me a long time just to organize my thoughts in a concise way.
I can talk strongly about the worst thing that China has to offer so far. It is not pollution although it is a part of our lives not, it is not traffic nor scary taxi drivers that almost run into other cars, trucks or bikes. That's all normal for day to day China!


We just got Internet installed today, after a long waiting time.

The Internet man seemed really nice from the few words I can understand in Chinese (I probably can get one in 20 so it's not the best opinion). Anyways, he put in the Internet, told me the IP settings, downloaded some weird authorization software on my computer and voila... Internet came down the pipe. Here is the problem... Internet is basically dripping on this pipe, it is so slow that if we all 3 go at once, it's basically like a clogged toilet. It is sometimes driving me nuts. I don't know how this situation will evolve as we paid 6 months in advance already...

On the other hand, I manage to update the wireless router menu from Chinese to English and with the help of Stephanie, we might be really close to finding a hookah buying place. That is another story...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

this morning at the police station

Tips before watching the video

The Chinese people have these working out machines just outside of their work place and while waiting in front of the police station, we did our morning exercises just like a normal Chinese. People thought we were silly and we probably were... enjoy!

(C) Stephanie

The apartament

A beautiful tour of our apartment directed and presented to you by Stephanie B

the crazy carrefour experience

This is Carrefour crowd on a Saturday afternoon. Never do this!!! Only for pros

the tea houses

The tea room
The menu

Tea houses in Beijing so far have been fabulous. As I am writing right now, I'm in one of them.

They are generally a lot of decorations in big room filled with private rooms, just perfect to bring your date out for a tea. Tea in China is considered to be like the wine in the rest of the world: it ranges from few cents to thousands of dollars.
One would think that drinking tea is all about breakfast, sitting a table and enjoy most probably a cookie with it. Well, maybe... but not here!

Tea drinking is a ritual, just like fine wine again. All the glasses must be well heated and then the tea pot has to have the same temperature on the outside as it has on the inside.

The tea glasses are really small, you smell the tea, feel the tea and drink is little sips. It is a wonderful experience.

Monday, March 05, 2007

1st day in Beijing

First day in Beijing...

After an 18 hours bumpy trip, I finally reached Beijing. The process of going through security at the airport was very easy. For the next time, one should know that it requires 3 different forms to fill in and the overall process takes about an hour, but it is very easy.

I easily meet Stephanie and the other people from AbroadChina, changed 300$ in the airport and I was ready to go. Just for future information, the Travellers Cheques change for a better rate compared to cash.

Beijing is a big, busy and interesting city at the first sight. In the same time, it looks polluted but is not something I'm not used to. My home town is the home of the Aluminum Factory and the city if filled with Fluorine.

After setting in at the Beijing GuiZhou Mansion, a 3-star hotel (about 35$/night), Stephanie and I started to walk the streets and ate Chinese food on the street, saw where UIBE is, entered a Chinese store that was only for hair combs and finally drank a tea in a Chinese Tea house.
Also, I was very happy that my PDA with GPS is working and took us to the school and can show with a certain precision where we are.Tonight, everyone will go out to have some food, of course Chinese food.

Pre-China adventure... here we go!!

I haven't even started the flight and began the adventure already. The strangest thing happened in the Vienna airport.First, I meet a Romanian sailor who will be working in Singapore for some time, then I meet this Chinese girl, whom name I already forgot who was speaking fluent French... wow! She had a problem with her cell phone and wanted mine to send an SMS. I experience my first communication problem...

What was really strange came after that... after an unknown delay, I got through the boarding line heading to the airplane through the tunnel. I reached there, but it was a huge queue, of people waiting to get in as the airplane door was closed. What?? Yes, the airplane door was closed, there was no one there with 100 people waiting in the line... I should have taken a picture.

After waiting for 10 minutes, I went around to check how things are and noticed that now people were taking another entry door in the airplane. Even crossing the exits was forbidden by a sign, I asked some people where they are going and found out that this is the right way to Beijing.

Just realized that is the beginning of my adventure... luckily the seats in the airplane had individual displays.