Thursday, January 14, 2010

Guess What I Saw on My Way to Work Today?

I was driving down the Airport Expressway when I was distracted from the task at hand by the most amazing sight. I immediately took my eyes off the road in order to dig through my purse for my cell phone, just so I could document this most amazing invention. Yes, folks, there it was, in all its glory: a snowplow.

Never mind that the snow is long since cleared from most roads in the city. The one and only snowplow has arrived, at last.

I snapped a few photos for proof. And yes, you'll note that in the third photo, I'm turning backwards to snap the picture out of the rear passenger window. What, is that dangerous?

As long as I had the camera out, I decided to continue with this photo exhibit of my commute. Don't worry, mom and dad - I was mostly just holding the phone on the steering wheel and snapping away without looking, hoping for a good shot or two.

And so here, for your entertainment, created at great risk of life and limb, is a photo essay of my Beijing commute. Ready? Let's get started, shall we? First off, you're going to need to climb in your freezer to really get a good picture of my commute.

Are you in there? Are you freezing? Are your feet going numb yet? Okay, that's pretty much what it felt like inside my car this morning. Now we're ready.

Here's the infamous plow that started me down the path of automotive recklessness. As I approached it, traffic slowed. Apparently I wasn't the only one intrigued by this strange sight. Either that or my fellow travelers saw what I was doing and were trying to get out of the way of the strange foreign lady who was attempting to drive and take pictures simultaneously. I doubt that, though: considering all the strange things one sees on the Airport Expressway, I doubt anyone even noticed me.

And here we have a blurry shot of a Chinese road sign. Note the crazy arrows pointing in every direction on the sign to the right? Yeah, I've been here long enough that I know what those arrows mean. The first few times I tried to drive, though, those signs were harder to interpret than actual Chinese characters.

Here I am, getting off at the 3rd Ring Road. Just me and a few million Chinese people, all merging at once. And taking pictures. Hmmm... now that I think about it, maybe this wasn't the safest thing to be doing...

That's the sun in my eyes. Really hard to see anything. Quick, swerve away from the taxi.

Of course, pedestrians don't care that the sun is in my eyes. They keep running out in the street, dodging cars.

See that red door? That's the entrance to Bellagio, a really good Cantonese restaurant down the street from the Embassy. One more right turn and I'll be there. But the red door beckons... dragon beans, yum.

Oh, hey, I never noticed that huge smokestack behind Bellagio. Cough, cough. Maybe it's a cadmium jewelry factory?

Okay, we're here at the Embassy. What's that? You expected pictures of the Embassy? Sorry, I don't want to get chewed out by RSO. No pictures.

But, in the spirit of finishing my commute, I took a few more photos to finish out the day. The car was filthy, so I stopped at the carwash by my house. They cleaned the car for 20 RMB - about $3.

While I waited I watched the parking lot guards marching and drilling. I don't know why they have to do this, but it's a fairly common sight here (unlike snow plows). The guards all line up and march in place for awhile, then listen to a lecture from a senior guard, and then off they go.

One final picture to make you smile. This little guy lives at the car wash with his parents. Every time I go there, he's outside running around in his split pants. As he gets older (he's the same age as Ainsley), he's getting more rambunctious. Today, for example, he took off his hat and threw it in the water. Then he ran around my car while they were washing it, and he giggled as the adults all chased him around the car, shouting. It makes me a little sad to see him - it's so cold out there, and the family doesn't appear to own much more than their little car wash. I've seen only one toy for him - a little ride-on car. But the baby is so cute, and his mom is so attentive, that he makes me smile every time. I keep thinking I need to bring him some toys, but I never remember to stash them in my car.

And that was my commute. Now, it's time to clean up the dinner dishes, pack the lunches and get four kids ready for bed. My real work begins!


Brook said... [Reply]

Hi there. Dropping by from SITS to say, "hello". Best wishes in 2010.

Kindest regards,

Connie said... [Reply]

What a glorious, and very large!, snow plow you found... and... um... I don't see any snow in any of these photos. :D Maybe it is a deterrent via murphy's law, now that there is a plow, more snow will not come?

And that car wash kiddo is adorable!

globalgal said... [Reply]

My husband and I will have to make the trek to Beijing to get some documents notarized at the embassy soon. Where is this Bellagio? You say down the street from the embassy - the same street or that big main street where the Kempinski is? I have to admit I'm very curious because I JUST read on another blog about someone eating at the Bellagio. I thought they were referring to a casino in Macau! hahaha And do they have a menu with pics? I have never ordered Cantonese food in Chinese... all we have where I live is local, local, local and one Korean place. ;)

Donna said... [Reply]

Hey, Global Gal - do I have your contact info? Send it to me, would you, and maybe we can meet up if we're both at the Embassy on the same day. Bellagio is north of the Embassy. Exit American Citizen Services and turn left, going north past Lai Tai Flower Market. You'll run into a main street - maybe called Xiaoyun? Turn left and walk a long block. When you hit a street light, look across the street and you'll see a 2-story building with a big red door. That's it - maybe a 5-10 minute walk. Make sure you order the dragon beans. Of course, depending upon when you arrive, there's a Fatburger supposedly opening any day now. Or, if you're in the mood for pizza or a good salad, let me know and I'll tell you where to go.

Please. Write your own stuff.