I left Vancouver on Sept 1 @ 12:10pm and arriving in Beijing on Sept 2 @ 2pm. I have a room rented for 2 months from a girl called Beibei as she goes to Japan for a 3 month contract. Our timing just worked out perfectly. Beijing’s airport is quite impressive with high ceilings and modern infrastructure. Beibei’s friend Chen was waiting for me in Dongzhimen station to pick me up and bring me to the apartment.
Over an hour late, waiting for luggage, customs and battling some crowds. That doesn’t bother me but the fact that I feel like I got scammed buying a SIM card from a legit dealer was a bit off putting – 250 Yuan for 1G of data + 100 min of calls. I was beating myself all day over it but you live and your learn.
Chen drove me to an old apartment nearby – got me settled into my room in a 3 person apartment. Its really fascinating to see that while the room is extremely spacious, there is no living room for people to sit around. So I’m here in my room, with a shared washroom and kitchen. (will take pictures later) Cool.. cool…cool…coool…
Here comes where my Val-completely-loses-it-and-is-about-to-melt-down moment. Remember, I haven’t slept at all in this 11 hour flight from Van to Beijing. I’m getting hungry and am really really thirsty. The apartment’s WIFI wasn’t working with my phone and it’s been 30-45 mins of fiddling with it. It would connect but I would get zero data go to my phone. WTF is going on, right? Plus, I needed to download a map for my phone since *duh* Googlemaps doesn’t work. Chen suggested that I download the Chinese version… but it’s all in Chinese. We tried maps.me but ended up going with Amap. I’m kicking myself trying to rack my brain why I didn’t think of this shit earlier. I was smart enough to purchase VPN in anticipation of not being able to use Google, FB, Insta but not smart enough to actually download like another map system!? Le sigh..
Beyond that, my computer wasn’t connecting to aforementioned sites – Google, FB, Insta, Gmail with the VPN on. I dont know why! Everyone recommended Astrill to use! Beyond frustrating. Beyond beyond frustrating. I just sat at the edge of the bed completely dejected. Like, FUCK. We’ve been trying to figure this out for like almost 2 hours. Chen missed his meeting at the university where he works, I apologized profusely like a good Canadian and decided to leave the apartment to explore since there was still daylight out. The area is actually quite nice, I’m a 7 minute walk to Raffles City Mall which is like any standard mall with a decent food court + connection to the Dongzhimen subway station (whew). It is actually really beautiful inside – completely modern.
The area is quite safe as I walked around the 1 block perimeter – there were tonnes of restaurants, small shops selling water and snacks, and coffee shops. I walked around for an hour or two, coming back to the apartment by 8pm, all sweaty and stuff. The walk did calm me down a bit about the whole internet stuff. Since my roommates still weren’t home, I just put some familiar music and unpacked and tried to feel more human.
* correction * I just used Bing for the first time in my life as a search engine. The airport does charge more for convenience and I was not ripped off. I could buy the SIM from the newsstands but there’s a higher chance of being ripped off. Plus, I needed it to contact Chen in the first place. Man, that feeling of being ripped off really blows.
I fell asleep chatting to friends back home via Whatsapp. Thank god my cell phone WIFI works now. I know that everyone’s rooting for me. Who knows? Having a little bit of detox from all those websites will be good for my soul. I don’t need validation for people to like my posts, pictures, etc and this exercise CLEARLY shows how addicted I was to these platforms. I’m here to learn right? Make the best out of the situation and enjoy it.
Takeaways from Day 1 in China:
1. VPN may not save your internet life.
RIP Google, Gmail, Youtube, Snapchat, Instagram. My friends just wont be able to watch my narcissistic life in these 10 sec intervals.
2. Get Back to Basics.
When I was feeling overwhelmed with the whole internet stuff. I recognized that I was also extremely tired, grumpy, hungry and thirsty. I needed to listen to my body. Take a deep breath and go for a walk. I’m not alone in China.
3. Atleast My TV Streaming Site Work! 😀
Hahaha I can keep up with the modern world and finish off the season of Suits and Mr. Robot (yeeeeehaw!) Also another fun fact, LaineyGossip and Buzzfeed still work hahaha. YAAAAASSS
4. HAVE FUN!!! Not everything has to be a struggle! Look at the positives in each scenario and pivot your thinking/behaviour a bit! It makes a world of a difference. You’re here to have fun, learn a new langugage, make friends, drink, eat!
I might just watch an episodes before wandering out in this sweltering heat. (30 deg by 9am). This is what I signed myself up for ahaha.