I thought the most difficult task during our first days in Beijing would be to find a school for the kids and an apartment for us to live. Boy I was wrong. The single most challenging thing has been fighting jet lag with our children! During the first couple of days, the kids have decided to feel incredibly tired and sleepy at different times, which has made getting any rest impossible. The problem is compounded by the fact that we are all confined to the same hotel room, so whoever is awake keeps waking everyone else up (Isabel is particularly good at that). Hopefully things will improve in the next couple of days and we can get back to a more normal schedule that will allow us to focus our energies into looking for a school for the kids and a place to live!
While we were not fighting (and failing) jet lag, we were able to go out a couple of times. Here are a few random observations from our first outings:
Traffic: I forgot how rough traffic can be in Asia. Car is king here, so if you want to cross the street you better watch out! Traffic in China (in Asia in general) seems to follow Ayn Rand’s rational egoism (“the theory which holds that it is each person’s responsibility to choose his goals and values by use of his independent reasoning mind; and that it is his right to pursue these goals in quest of his own selfish, personal happiness”). So while there are traffic rules (cars do stop at traffic lights), the most important rule of all is that one expressed by the old saying of “everyman on his own” : traffic works not because people rely on common set of traffic rules that everyone follows, but because everyone knows that the only traffic rule that really matters is self-preservation. So every driver is extra-alert and always making sure s/he doesn’t hit anyone or get hit by someone else.
Across from our hotel there is a shopping center (with Zara and Mango stores!), but there is no traffic light nearby to cross the street, which means that people (including ourselves!) have to cross the street sorting out incoming traffic. Cars will never stop even if they see you crossing (which was the general rule in Nepal), so you need to time yourself to be able to cross when cars are not coming (think of crossing a highway in the States), which makes for a very dangerous game, especially if you are not used to it, and particularly, if you are doing it with kids . Cars did not stop even when they saw us crossing with a stroller!
Defying the One Child Policy: whenever we are in the street people keep commenting on the fact that we have three children. We’ve been here for only two days and at least 10 different people have made remarks to us about it, ranging from giving us the “thumbs up,” to counting our children, to coming up to us and talking about the kids. Granted we have only been here for two days, but it seems obvious that the one child policy is still the law of the land, especially in cities, even if it seems that things are relaxing a bit and the law may even been dropped in the near future. The book Only Hope, by Vanessa Fong, is a very interesting read on this issue, and about the consequences that a generation of only-children has had on Chinese society.
Picture Source: The Picture is from the China Adventure Blog