I'll trade you an Immodium AD for a clean shirt
Connie's writings in brown
Sheven's writings in blue
Monday 10.24.2005: Arrive Beijing at 5am.
Crossing the means we lost a day without even feeling it. I wish I could lose 20 pounds while we're at it without feeling it, but I guess geophysics doesn't work that way. The long flight took its toll. Sheven turned to me upon entry to the shiny new Beijing Airport and said to me, "I'm so excited that we're going to... where is it that we're going to now?"
Walk to . Too tired to sight-see on Day 1. We gave up after walking up TianAnMen gate to look at . It was all either of us can do to slog back to the condo in order to commence our soon-to-be-daily struggle with the onerous shower curtain rod in the spartan bathroom.
My aunt had installed such fierce heat lamps in the low ceiling, that Sheven and I eventually ended up referring to the bathroom lights as The Two Suns. We gave up trying to dry hand-washed garments on the shower curtain rod directly under the lights, as the heat was sufficient to melt the synthetic materials our clothes were made of. A conflagration of underpants are the last thing I want to deal with when travelling abroad. The curtain rod also insist on clattering to the tile floor on a daily basis, and were it not for Sheven's skill with domestic hardware, I would be showering with no curtain at all. I used to have those skills, you know - before my marriage; I have apparently not enough space in my brain to accomodate both cookery and hardware. Not that it would have made much of a difference as the bathroom was not partitioned off to seperate sections for shower and toilet, except with a curtain, so that the floor is completely wet after each and every shower.  But who's complaining? We have free lodgings all to ourselves in central !
Packing Light The Wrong Way
Connie filled a suitcase entirely with drugs in anticipation of any and all illnesses that can strike down a soft American in a foreign country; sufficient Immodium AD to dose, say, the entire population of Xian. This left no room for actual clothes. Sheven, on the other hand, brought all her clothes but no toilet paper. We came to a mutually agreeable solution of Connie wearing Sheven's clothes and Sheven condescending to using Connie's myriad of drugs and rolls of portable Charmin, both of which proved to be not only valuable, but actually invaluable.
Sheven: Before leaving Houston the only word I knew in Chinese was "Thank you", which I've been perfecting since getting Beijing because I hear it over and over. Chinese isn't as hard as I thought it would be, (not hard - more like incomprehensibly different), since body language and other cues must be more universal than I thought. I assumed the tonal aspect of the language would render my utterly unable to discern what was going on, but I can hear the ends of sentences, aggreeance, questions, words. I knew when to ask what was said, or add my comment to the conversation at appropriate times.