Blog by Leah Baker - Posted
The week began with Dragon Boat day, which is a holiday celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month on the Chinese calendar. The day in Chinese is Duan-Wu; Duan means beginning and Wu means Horse month. The Chinese Horse month traditionally comes around June 5th on a Western calendar. The festival is to remember Chiu Yuan, a beloved Chinese patriotic poet, who committed suicide on the 5th day by tying himself to a rock and jumping in the river, because he thought people were living life as if it were meaningful. So on Dragon Boat Day they have boat races on the river and eat Zongi to celebrate. Zongi is a dumpling made of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. I did not have the opportunity to try it yet but it is on my to do list. In Beijing there isn’t anywhere to watch the boats being launched so we went to a furniture market in the furniture district that hosted a street market with music and different booths to celebrate.
Well, after beginning the week with a holiday, and a nice wandering around Beijing it was back to reality on Tuesday. Tuesday was the first day of work for everyone. So off we were to our designated workplaces. Everyone boarded their prospective buses and were en route to their jobs at 9:15am. Adam and I, the other intern from CRCCAsia working with me, were listed as third on the route to be dropped off. We arrived at our company at approximately 10:45am. We were all dressed up in suits and looking smart, as we walk into the office we noticed that everyone was dressed very casually, shorts, jeans, t-shirts, and sun dresses. They advised us that the supervisor was not there, and that he would arrive around three that afternoon. At the office they serve canteen (hot lunches) to everyone there that wants to eat. So we joined in and had lunch with everyone, there was a meatball dish, rice and vegetables, and it actually tasted pretty good. So then we asked the intern, who had been assisting us, what time to come in tomorrow she advised that he had meetings in the morning starting at 9am and that he would contact us to let us know when we should come in. Adam and I left our business cards and advised the supervisor could email or call us to let us know.
The next day at around 10am we received a text from our supervisor, asking us if we were ok and where we were. I responded saying, we were at home and we were advised that you would be in meeting today and not to come in, and that you would let us know when to come and what our schedules would be. He called my phone and asked me to explain everything that had happened the day before. He then advised, you have learned the first lesson of being in China and “miscommunication”. My coworker and I hurried, to get ourselves sorted, and arrived at work on Wednesday by 11am. Finally we meet our supervisor, a tall very French man. Upon arrival we went though our introduction process and we all got to know each other a little better. Our supervisor is very laid back and up front. The interesting thing about him is that he went through CRCC Asia as well prior to being hired by this company. We actually work for organisations that are under FairKlima Capital, which are both non-profit organisations seeking to alleviate poverty in developing economies. For the next few days at work we familiarized ourselves with the company and its arrangements.
On Tuesday and Thursday we have the opportunity to attend language courses at That’s Mandarin every week. We have an hour-long session, which is very beneficial and is helping me recall my long lost Mandarin. After language class on Tuesday we all went to check out a hotpot restaurant, but it didn’t work out so well cause of the language barrier. On Wednesday night of this week we had Karaoke and boy was that night wild and crazy and a lot of fun. You see, Karaoke is big in China and they take it very serious, the singing, the dancing, and the drinking is all taken seriously.
Well the weekend had come upon us fast. On Friday night I was an ‘old woman’ and decided to stay in and have some wine with my roommate and another participant in the program so we just chilled, talked, and watched a bit of Master Chef on the TV. But on Saturday night I was going to make up for that, LoL. Saturday morning we got up and went to volunteer with the Migrant Children’s Foundation at a migrant school in Beijing teaching children English and playing with them. It was a lot of fun and they taught me some Mandarin and how to write a couple of Chinese characters. My roommate and I said we are going back again in two weeks on our own to volunteer.
After returning a group of us went out to lunch in the area near our apartment we found a nice noodle restaurant about 10 minutes walk from our place. I ordered spicy Mongolian leg of lamb and dumplings; it was so tasty and a bit messy. They gave me gloves to eat the leg of lamb with. Later that evening, as I said I would earlier, I got all dolled up and went out to Sanlutin, the Bar Street, as well as to a club called MIX. I partied all night with the young bucks in the program and arrived back home to my apartment about 5:30am. Sanlutin is a nice westernized strip of bars, clubs, and restaurants, and at night it is lit up and there are people with their booths selling food, cigarettes, artifacts, and so much more. I ate a grill chicken breast from a vender at about 2am and it was so good.
I slept until about 1130am on Sunday and decided to get up and go to The Bookworm, which is a library, a bookstore, and a western restaurant all in one. It took me about two hours to find the place, I had been walking in circles around it and had passed it twice without even knowing. LOL! It was a nice little café style place, a bit pricy for China but nice to go relax, eat, read a book, or surf the net. After eating lunch and working on my thesis for a few hours I left there and went to a market. In Sanlutin is the Yashow Market (known as the Yaxiu Market). The market consist of 5 floors packed to the tee with different booths, you can by knockoff shoes, purses, clothes, have a silk suite made, get your hair, nails, or eyebrows done, or buy tea and electronics. The Yaxiu Market has a little bit of everything, and you must bargain or you will get ripped off. I bought a bootleg Kipling backpack and two pair of shoes. Also, next door to the Market is a huge Western shopping plaza called The Village located just in front of the Sanlutin bar strip. The plaza has anything from the Apple store to Steve Madden and almost everything in between. Being in this area reminds me of being back home in the Western world. Well that ends week number two; there is more to come on next weeks blog.
Talk to you all later.