Monday, 2 March 2009

2nd September, 1985, Beijing

China is so endlessly tatty. The campus [where I live and work] is a continual building site but the new buildings look no fresher than the old. Driving from the airport, after a 19 hour sleepless flight, the road reminded me of France, with its tree lining and the road itself slightly raised above fields of trees.

Mr Shen [school representative in charge of foreign teachers] attentive and kind after a sticky beginning. Not very good English. All the figures on the road started off [in my initial impression] as Western people and turned into Chinese when we approached. Warm but not too hot. The campus is about ten kilometres from Tiananmen Square - a good solid trip by bike. Is the bike which is being 'loaned' to me a temporary or a permanent loan? There are new quarters being built for the foreign teachers, but I get the feeling that me [sic] and the other girl who is coming are meant to stay put [in this building]. This block itself is quite new but so drab; the feel of it is not their fault, as no room can feel lived in that has a new occupant each year, but the loo is filthy and I have not yet worked out how to have a shower without boiling myself alive. And to get to the shower you have to climb over the loo. The kitchen, similarly, is just dirty and tatty and difficult to keep orderly......

Not feeling too miserable; just tired, clean and a little lost. Wanting something to happen and doubting my courage, in advance, to do all that I have to do....

They eat so early here: I dined in state with Mr Shen on beautiful food, but at 5:30, and it is now only 8:30.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful, Laura. You sound exhausted by all the novelty. It is hard to put oneself back in one's shoes, and you have learned a great deal between then and now. How fortunate that you thought to keep a record and how well you wrote!

    They eat very early in Denmark too. They seem to get peckish for lunch, like everyone, at 11.30am but, unlike in Britain, they act on their hunger. If you go to a cafe at 12 noon in Denmark there will be a queue already and people even finishing up. It is great for families because you can go to a restaurant at five o'clock and be served. In the UK and France you will be turned away. Much more civilised :-)