Third Times a Charm

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September 23rd 2010
Published: April 6th 2011
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I had scheduled a meeting with a government official from the State Administration for Foreign Expert Affairs (SAFEA). I've been working on obtaining permits since March so that I can introduce foreign teachers to Chinese schools. I had made a pretty good contact in San Francisco and he got me my meeting after months of getting no where on my own.

Luckily for me I had a few friends living in Beijing so I would not need to book a hotel room while I was there. The bad news was that my buddy Zak had his cousin in town and had no room for me to crash at his place. I would end up staying with my friend Riley in Haidan, a district with lots of colleges and expats. The other bad news was that my trip coincided with a Chinese holiday, Mid Autumn Festival, and the airline tickets were pretty expensive. I ended up taking a flight on Wednesday night and returning on Monday to save money. It was a lot to ask to crash on my friends couch for five days but nevertheless I was on my way to try and get some business going while still living in China.

Riley's complex was brand new and was still being finished while they had already moved in. As far as apartments go in China, his was great. Riley is studying Chinese at some university in Beijing and shares a place with a Mexican guy by the name of Roberto.

I was looking forward to going out and seeing some sites and take pictures with our new camera. Since I had been to Beijing twice before and had my fair share of experiences while I was there this summer, none of this deterred me from taking in all the touristy spots. Having lived in China for a little over a year, Beijing appealed to me much more after spending such a long time here. For the regular tourist I would still only recommend four days while in Beijing, yet for an Expat living abroad the city has a lot of diversity and charms about it. No shortage of foreign restaurants; including Japanese, Korean, and the other standard western joints. I was surprised to see so many Koreans living in Beijing. Only after spending time in Korea could I recognize many of these people as Koreans. They definitely sound different and tend to dress much more like we do in the States.

Its important to realize that Riley had just broken up with his girlfriend prior to returning for a second year in China. Thus I was forced to go to a club of some sorts for four nights in a row. Regardless of what we had planned the next day we were out until 5am every night. I was not accustomed to staying out that late, nor for four days in a row. A few of Riley's friends form college, Roey and Jack, also stayed at his place for the weekend as well. On Friday night a girl friend of Jack's by the name of McKay landed in Beijing. I was impressed that she immediately headed out for a night on the town after 17 or so hours of travel. Thats a long day.

We visited the Summer Palace and Tienanmen Square on Saturday. Later that evening we went to a popular street to get some street food. The next day we were to go to the great wall. We negotiated with a driver to take us in a van to a less touristy section of the wall. It would be my third trip to the wall. The section we visited was named Jinshanling. As typical we had stayed out until 5 am again. McKay was the only intelligent one of the group as she opted out from a big night on the town. Our van arrived at 9 am and haggled with us about what section of the wall they would take us to. We were committed to our choice and ended up paying an additional 70 kuai (10 usd) each to get there.

Extremely low on energy and feeling sick we headed out on the nearly two hours drive. Once we got there we ate and decided to take a cable care up to the top. This section I immediately liked better than the others since there were not as many vendors or tourists at the bottom. Once on top we hike for several hours. Towards the end of the day we were the only ones that could be seen on the wall. It was great. It was close to sunset when we headed back down to the van. That night we only stayed out until 2 am.

On Sunday Roey went back to Hong Kong and Jack and McKay left for another city near Beijing. Riley and I kept it pretty low key the rest of the day. We headed out to a store and got some food. Not much went on that night. I awoke at 9 am on Monday to head out to my meeting. As a gift for the official I had bought cigars from the States. I also took with me some moon cakes, the traditional Chinese desert eaten during the Mid Autumn Festival. Our school gave a box to Elyse and I both but we think they taste terrible.

I got there and waited in the conference room where I was served a cup of hot tea and awaited my contact. I was greeted by three people one of which was of fairly high standing within the SAFEA. I was happy as I did not anticipate being able to meet this man. It also turns out that he happened to be old friends with the President of Hangzhou Polytechnic University. This was all good news and we had a nice conversation about what I hoped to achieve while in China. I left in good spirits and a lot of high hopes for the future of my business in China. After five days I was glad that I would be returning home to be with Elyse.

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