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!