February 17, 2009

Beijing: Day 1

After six days of continuous company, entertainment and a planned schedule I am now in Beijing and actually by myself this evening. Which means: wandering through Beijing streets in increasingly heavy snow in search of food.

This trip has, so far, been good but strangely I still don't feel as if I've really been in China. And I'm starting to like that feeling less and less.

Some of it has to do with the fact that I've been here before. So I already have an image of this country which it is supposed to match. But that time I was with a backpack, a phrasebook and just me. The Beijing that I'm staying in now is not the same Beijing as 2,5 years ago. It might have changed a lot, but so far I can't really tell as I'm actually staying in a part of town that I never really made it to last time with nothing but tall hotels and embassies.

It also has to do with the very different type of trip this is compared to my previous work trip. The week in Malaysia last year was all about Malaysia. Five days of talking with Malaysians from Malaysian organisations about Malaysia. This time, I'm talking to a lot of Dutch people inside Chinese buildings about how we do our work. .....
Work-wise it's still very useful but well, very different.

But I also seem to be different myself this time around. I'm not nearly as 'adventurous' (for lack of a better word) as I normally would be. After five days of just following Chinese speakers and not having to think about what to do, where to go and how to communicate - I find myself hesitant to finally have to start doing that tonight. Getting out of my hotel room, to walk around an unknown city, to find an unknown restaurant, to try to order unknown food. It all feels like a LOT of effort, instead of being excited about a 'new' city. Instead of taking public transport, I'm in taxis anytime I can and am becoming very lazy.

So I'm starting to understand why people stay in their hotels when on business trips instead of going out discovering new places.

Nevertheless, I still hope I will have some time on Thursday to do a bit of sightseeing and shopping. To find out if the city really has changed since summer 2006.

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