Archive for September, 2009

Apartment Flood

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

After a glorious first day of work, I came home last night to find something wrong. Seriously wrong. I walked in my brand new apartment and heard what sounded liked water under me. Actually it sounded more like I was walking on a waterbed. Upon further investigation I noticed water coming out of the cracks in my floorboards. I also noticed lots of water coming out of the baseboards. For a split second I freaked, but soon realized that wouldn’t fix my floor. I called my landlord, who speaks a little English, to try to explain my situation. I don’t think she understood the severity of it, as she calmly said she’ll stop by tomorrow morning.

I woke up this morning around 8, to two maintenance men knocking on my door. Apparently the store below my apartment had water coming through the ceiling. I told the men to come in my apartment and showed them the water. Two men quickly turned into four, then seven or eight. The men began pulling up my wood floor in search of the problem. They moved my refrigerator and dining table to access my sink. Apparently when the hot water got turned on yesterday a pipe burst. Good to know it wasn’t something I did! When I left for work around 10 am half my floor was gone and the men were working to vacuum up the water.

I came home from work today to find my my sink torn off my wall (bottom right) and busted pipes exposed. Did I mention the water is currently turned off at my apartment? Well it is.

So where am I right now? I’m at the office blogging, before I sleep here. Luckily our office has two big IKEA couches, a kitchen area and two bathrooms. Sure sleeping without a blanket sucks. I could probably use a shower too, since I didn’t shower yesterday or this morning. Ok, I look more like a Geico caveman. On the bright side, tonight I ate a hot meal, have a roof over my head and things will be fixed tomorrow. I could be in a much worse situation. Millions of people live below the poverty level and would be happy to shower once a week. A few days without a shower won’t kill me. Plus I’ve got Degree Powder Fresh.

Like I said before, “In China everything is possible, but nothing is easy.” Amen to that.

♥ BB

First Day of Work

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Today I had my first real day of work at the graphic design and advertising firm SiVO² Advertising Co., Ltd. I studied graphic design web tutorials and took notes most the day. I got a little frustrated watching web videos because the internet here is so slow. At home I’m spoiled to have such a fast internet connection. Here, the video renders about every five seconds. It’s equivalent to watching a scratched DVD. Ugh. I hope to have this figured out soon. If not, I’ll have to come in early or stay late to get a better connection speed.

The firm recently moved offices. The new office is a two story office on the 10th floor of a high rise business complex. There is an amazing view of the Beijing skyline. Our office looks directly out to the Beijing TV (BTV) tower, the tallest building in Beijing. I snapped the picture below from my office window around sunset. In our building there are numerous media, design and photography type companies. I can’t wait to expand my design knowledge and Chinese language skills. Hopefully I can network with other people too. Well that’s about all for now. I’ll keep everyone posted. Hope to post some cool graphic design stuff soon. Feel free to give me feedback!

♥ BB

On My Own

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Today it really sunk in. I am living in China. Dad left around five this morning to catch his 8 am flight. I was half asleep when he left so to wake up in my apartment alone was weird, especially since we’ve been together constantly for the past two weeks. I’m pretty sure I woke up and my thought process went something like this, “Whaaat?? Dad’s gone! Cool, I can’t believe I’m living here. (Insert expletive here) I am alone in China!”

My first day alone in Beijing meant finding my way around. What better way to explore the city than by taking pictures? I walked down the main road and passed Gongqing Park. When Dad and I first got to Beijing this park was nowhere near finished. Men are literally working 24/7 to make sure the park is finished in time for the holiday on October 1. When I went to the park, crews were finalizing park details. Men swept leaves, planted flowers and polished the statues. Gongqing Park is massive. It runs along the river and has a nice walking path. I am pumped, I now have a dedicated running path! Running/dodging people on the sidewalks is nuts and a little too cross-country for me. The park also has fountains and statues everywhere. It’s very tranquil. My favorite statue is the white boat with the sails. The attention to detail is spectacular. There are seating areas everywhere, but I guess that’s necessary in a city with 20 million people. I can’t think of a park in the U.S. that compares to this.

After 200 and something pictures, I needed to run errands. In the States I loathe Wal-Mart. I avoid it at all costs. Unfortunately, Wal-Mart is the only store in Beijing I can count on to have what I’m looking for. Plus it’s within walking distance of my apartment. Wal-Mart in Beijing isn’t like the Wal-Mart’s at home. For starters, this Wal-Mart is underground. It’s under a shopping mall, so one can easily get distracted when running to the store for just a few items. The employees here actually help you, some are a little too eager to help you. This Wal-Mart is a superstore and it is super. All the food is Asian food. Obviously. They have lots of rice, noodles, dried veggies, cooking oils and seasonings, dried milk products and moon cakes. I could wander around this store for hours. They have everything from amazing produce, a stocked liquor selection and food samples to pets and live sea food. You can buy live eel, crab and flounder! The prices were pretty reasonable too. I probably looked like a weirdo taking pictures in Wal-Mart but whatever.

I walked home from Wal-Mart with my bag stuffed. On my way to my apartment I stopped by a local vendor selling veggies and fruit. I purchased grapes, apples, pears and green beans. My total came to 14 RMB or $2.

Walking home I felt a sense of independence. Everyone I meet will know me for me, not the things they may have heard about me. The language barrier is overwhelming, I might be lonely and I miss my friends, but I can do this. Bring it on.

♥ BB

Tianjin Pictures

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Today Dad and I took the train to Tianjin one last time. We needed to get my suitcase and have one last business dinner before Dad leaves on Sunday.

It was a tough decision. Yesterday I decided to take the graphic design internship in Beijing and turn down the teaching position. A few factors affected my decision. First, the university did not want to give me the proper work visa. I saw this as a huge red flag. They also said I would only be working as a teaching assistant, and not a teacher, so my pay would be lower. The graphic design position doesn’t pay me anything. However, I feel in the long run it will be more beneficial to my career because it correlates with my major in public relations. Plus I enjoy taking pictures, design and art, so I feel this is something I can really excel at.

Dad and I arrived in Tianjin around 3 pm. I was pretty bummed about the smog, as it makes taking pictures difficult. The architecture here is amazing, all old European, and the smoggy pictures do not do it justice. We walked around for a couple hours taking pictures of the architecture, statues, people, alleys, everything. Like I said before, everything in China is a picture opportunity. The old man (top) is a bricklayer taking a smoke break. The picture of me was taken in front of the main government office. The building stretched across the waterfront. I couldn’t believe its size. The bridge (left) is one of 24 bridges on the Haihe River. Each bridge is unique. Some are over 100 years old.

Eventually we couldn’t walk any more. We tried to find our way back to the hotel but the streets in Tianjin are hard to navigate. They don’t run east and west, north and south. They run with the direction of the river. Dad knew we were going the right way (typical man with directions) but my feet hurt so we got a cab. It’s a good thing we did because we were walking in the wrong direction.

That night we ate one last meal with business partners. Like always, the food rocked. We started out with a ginger, broccoli dish. We also ate tofu with shrimp and carrots. I know, it sounds weird but it was so good. I never eat tofu in the US but in China they know just how to cook it. We also ate ribbon fish, soup with meatballs and rice. Zou Wei, my dad’s business partner, said the cook is from Hong Kong. Apparently the restaurant we ate at has a few other locations. In Beijing and Hong Kong the restaurants are much more expensive than in Tianjin. The food tasted expensive. After all the amazing Chinese food I’ve eaten thus far, I will never eat Chinese-American food again!

I’m sad I won’t be working in Tianjin. I love the city, the food, the architecture and the people. Luckily it is only a 30 minute train ride from Beijing. If you’re ever in China you must spend a few nights in Tianjin. It’s like old Europe meets new China. Surreal.

Tomorrow we head back to Beijing and I get to move in to my apartment. I can’t wait to get unpacked and feel like I’ve got a place of my own. I’ll post pics of my apartment as soon as I’ve got it cleaned and decorated.

Miss everyone bunches, thank you again for all the supportive e-mails! Loves!!

♥ BB

Back in Beijing

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

This morning Dad took the train to An-yang for work. He needed to visit the factory where his model airplanes are made. Even with high speed trains it still takes three hours to get to An-yang. Because of the long travel hours, I chose to stay behind in Beijing and relax. I planned to spend the whole day walking around taking pictures. Mission accomplished.

I started my morning with Starbucks. One of the first restaurant terms I learned was Starbucks. In China Starbucks is pronounced “Xing Ba Ke.” The sign on the door reads “Xing Ba Ke Ka Fei,” or Starbucks Coffee. Thank God there are three Starbucks within walking distance of my apartment. Unfortunately, the Starbucks in China do not have white or carmel mochas. I tried to order a carmel mocha and the guy working told me it would be too sweet. Duh. I asked him if he could please add carmel sauce anyway. He seemed confused but made the drink. I instantly felt a little closer to home.

While sipping on my coffee I wandered down to the art district by my potential office and apartment. I wanted to get pictures of this cool ship made out of old Chinese farm tools. There is also a huge graffiti wall with art from various artists around Beijing. My second day in Beijing I saw models having a photo shoot in front of the wall. I thought the colors would look great for pictures.

I also noticed a film crew outside the art museum. They had lights, sound equipment, trucks, backdrops and other miscellaneous stuff set up. Judging by the brand new AUDI in front of the backdrop, it looked like they were filming a commercial. Other people I talked to said they might be filming a movie. I’m not sure who the actors were. One was an attractive Chinese man and the other was a gorgeous, tall Chinese woman with long, black hair. Both had on business attire. I can’t believe this is the area I might be working in. Talk about opportunities.

After a few hours of exploring and picture taking I needed food. My dad and I ate at a delicious noodle restaurant the night before and I wanted to go back to try another dish. I ordered a bowl of thick homemade noodles with veggies, two biscuits and a Sprite. My total tab came to 23 RMB, or about $4.25. I have a feeling I will be eating here a lot if I live in Beijing. No place in the States compares to this.

The city lights are spectacular. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to take more pictures. I turned down the ISO on my camera and got some neat shots of the traffic zipping by. I wish I’d brought my tripod because it was hard to stay still for so long. Oh well, a few shots still turned out. I also went back to the art museum to take pictures of the silver statues. Apparently these statues were done by a famous artist and they are a big deal in Beijing. I hope to get more pictures of the statues in daylight. There are 16 statues total and they have a variety of poses. On my way back to the hotel I passed an authentic Chinese restaurant. The sign and traditional Chinese lanterns really popped against the darkness. If I end up in Beijing, I’ll probably take pictures like a maniac. Everywhere I look is a picture opportunity. I’m the üuber tourist with my Nikon D-60, Levi’s and Nikes. What a stereotype.

China rocks. Beijing rocks. I have barely begun my exploration of the country and I can’t wait to see more. Check back for updates!

♥ BB