Archive | August, 2010

First Days in Beijing

28 Aug

Hello everyone!

My first few days in Beijing have been absolutely insane, and yes, stressful. I’m currently sipping an iced coffee in the very cool Beijing ex-pat hangout, the “Bookworm.” Sting is playing on the speakers and I’m making plans with some friends to meet for dinner and drinks tonight in Houhi, an upscale bar and restaurant street.

I should be relaxed, but while I make plans with friends, I’m also emailing, texting and calling various real estate agents about finding an apartment. My current three real estate agents are Melissa, Conquer, (yes, that’s his chosen English name …) and my favorite so far, Linda from Century 21. It’s hard to get straight answers out of these people. The bottom line is they’re trying desperately to sell you an apartment and they don’t really care if you get cheated in the process. I found a beautiful studio apartment in a complex called “Pearl Harbor.” I wanted to rent it purely so I could tell people I lived in Pearl Harbor.

Unfortunately, the apartment is unfurnished and would cost me a lot of extra money to rent. When I told Conquer I was no longer interested in the apartment he got very emotional and starting yelling. I decided to yell too. We screamed at each other for twenty minutes. After I let slip several F-bombs, he got scared. Finally, and ironically, Conquer relented.

Linda, a very kind 22 year old Chinese girl who just graduated from college, showed me some apartments in a place called “Piao Home.” I believe it stands for “piaoliang,” which means pretty or beautiful. When we walked up to the dingy gray-black buildings I decided the “pretty home” apartments hardly lived up to their name.

I was pleasantly surprised after seeing the inside of the first apartment. It had brand new hardwood floors, a bedroom, living room and kitchen. The TV even had international channels like CNN and BBC. It’s around 3,500 RMB / month, a little more than $500. I’m a big fan and am meeting with the landlord tomorrow to discuss the price. (As long as we don’t have another Conquer incident, I will probably end up renting that apartment.)

In other news, I’ve already been contacted by my boss from City Weekend magazine. He’s hoping I will write some Beijing bar reviews in my spare time. (Free drinks, extra cash and a resume booster? Sign me up!) – As soon as I get a little more settled I’m going to take him up on the offer.

I went out for the first time last night. My friend Hannah, who I’m currently sharing a hotel room with introduced me to some friends. We got dumplings for dinner, then went to a series of four or five bars. Needless to say, I had a rough morning.

Tonight I’m meeting up with my good friend Adam who I know from my abroad program, as well as another Princeton in Asia fellow named Liz. Hopefully today’s hangover won’t be repeated tomorrow! I’ll keep you all posted.

Thanks so much for reading and please forgive any grammar mistakes; I’m still quite jet-lagged.

More to follow!