January 31st 2016, Beijing, China
1 AM, just arrived in Beijing, China first time after 12 years.
I was thinking in the plane that you should surround yourself with positive people. Then you become positive. Always be positive. I have dear friends who are negative and I avoid being around them since they seem to find the tiny negative aspect of all bright things and I leave drenched of energy after a talk with them.
So, I’m in Beijing. How do I see it now after 12 years? Weird, a different world. As back then. At the time I was not ready for the trip. I was in love. I wanted to be somewhere else and did not realize what a blessing was living. Same Hyundais all over the streets. The airport is beautiful, amazing design. Huge Chinese words illuminated signs in bright colors.
Order and boredom. I’m here in China thinking that even if i would only see airports and the rides to hotels it would still be worth it.
Someone asked me what drives me. Pilots!
My room? Of course, 11. 1703. And I got a missed called at 11:11. Really, I’m not crazy! And I got message from 1001 0 to welcome me in China.
By the way, there’s no Facebook here. Better. Actually last time I almost freaked out to the reception that their internet is terrible when I realized where I was and that all those stories in TV were right.
I love my room in Beijing. It reminds me of the rooms and the hotels I stayed in in 2004 during my China trip.
For sure in a few years I ll be back to my social sciences research, entwined with international affairs, using my law background, and doing what cabin crew do – travel, meet people, know their nature.
This is the most exciting job on earth, really. You think meeting the president is hard? Try meeting cabin crew. I get 100+ flying hours every month which is a lot, mainly that’s all I do, I have no life. But traveling is my life, my addiction, my purpose and destiny.
It’s the most amazing and the craziest job. I think only crazy people can do it and enjoy it. For normal people must be hell. Thank God I’m not normal.
My colleague is from New Guinea and I was so proud to tell her it got its independence from Australia. Adding “in 1975”. I love to know the world, the countries and their history, the people and their traditions, their beliefs, what drives them, what makes them sad or smile.
At all times, it matters to see where you’re at. What you see with your eyes and with your mind. Where you want to go. What you want from life. For me, this is where I need to be. It is what I have to go through.
Messages everywhere: “To fight not just for yourself, but for the ones standing to your left and right.”
I live in a tunnel of messages. I live fast forwarded just to be at the right time at the right spot to hear, see, learn the right thing. In a certain way. That makes me think. Deeply. Because of the circumstances and the way it is delivered.
You know certain things touch you at different intensities depending on the circumstances. Well, I feel I am given the circumstances to be touched in a certain way. Some seeds are buried in me. I know it.
Slept 18 hours then did not sleep 24 then slept 8, awake 16, slept 3 more.
January 31st, Beijing, China
Off to the Great Chinese Wall, not too far from Beijing. We found a friendly taxi driver, I., my Ukrainian colleague and I. He does not speak English at all, but he’s trying to understand where we want to go. The price, on the phone (we negotiated and obtained around $90 for both ways plus waiting time). We are not sure we are going the right place until we actually arrived. But the heat of the car in the -15 degrees air outside makes us not care.
My recommendation for anywhere in China would be to take the card from hotel and pictures of where you want to go. You think you know you’re staying at Hilton, but then you realize there are 5 Hiltons in the city and you cannot go back.
The scenery is simple, beautiful, frozen. The sun is shyly spreading its rays. Rivers are completely frozen. We keep driving looking at the “fake” cars and at the motorcycles with gloves. They really must be freezing.
We expect extreme cold, but we’re from Eastern Europe and we think we can take it. Though, I know I adapted so well to the desert that I’m cold below 30 degrees. However, we were so lucky that it was a very sunny day and there was no wind and could actually take the gloves out to press the camera button.
The driver bought the tickets for us, three for each. There are no foreigners except for two Americans and us. We get into the same cable car, second one. On the first one it says that Mrs. Michelle (no last name), the wife of the president rode this cable car.
I have asked over time people from different fields of activity how life in China is. The reviews are not great and I understand why. The cultural gap is huge, the language barrier is an issue and it’s a very different and difficult language. Football coach tells me he’s not enjoying it. Although paid double, pilots refuse to move here. So I ask this American guy, in his 40-50s, who says he had been living for years here. He says it’s a good experience, but since he’s here he appreciates America more. Very diplomatic.
We’re up the Chinese Wall, but I don’t recall it like this. The weather is truly great, no wind at all and sunny. Cannot even feel the cold. There’s so much silence up here, the view is magnificent and there are almost no tourists since it’s early morning. I find we are in the Mutianyu Section of the Wall, around 70 km away from Beijing and that it used to be the Northern border of the city. It is one of the best kept sections of the Wall, yet far away on some hills you can see parts of the Wall almost vanishing.
A wonder of the world, The Great Chinese Wall comprises of more than 8000 km of fortifications. Even so, there is a misconception that it is visible from the Moon or from Mars.
Walking the Great Wall is one of those bucket list entries that you have to check in a lifetime. The feeling is overwhelming and fulfilling. We have hot tea in a Pagoda looking at the whole Wall and the cliffs visible between the bricks. Then we bargain two magnets from 260 to 100Y.
The taxi driver is still here waiting for us. He’s young, well dressed and nice smelling, but still he has a long pinky finger nail. He shows us the app he has for instant translation into English and the phone says: “It is a pleasure to make service for you”. Such a cute thing! We laugh at each other, it is a universal language. Yet, I’m wondering why he did not use it when we first stopped him on the street.
Back in the hotel, in the crew lounge. A Chinese flight supervisor is saying the instructions like a prayer, without even breathing. Reading for some paper for good minutes. I’m so relaxed in this full body massage chair, eating ginger cookies and sipping an espresso.
China is a different world, but one that cannot be ignored. They made all the things you wear and in your surrounding while you’re reading this. Your laptop and iPhone.
The city and the country is ready for the New Year. Chinese New Year, on the 8th of February. The year of Red Monkey. I’m ready for it and actually waiting for it. I order room service and it’s so fat I cannot eat it.
Gong xi fa cai! Welcome to the year of the Fire Monkey!