Like most of the cultures in this world, China is known in Europe mostly though the media. Stereotypes reign the knowledge about this far away country and every now and then somebody visited the country as a tourist or even worked there as an expat for some time. Two things are heard very often about China: firstly, one has to be very careful about prices and product quality when buying something in China. A little experience in negotiating prices and especially knowledge of the actual prices should be very important. Secondly, it should be very difficult to make friends with the Chinese. For example, the Chinese should have no interest in joining in for a drink after work. During a networking event in Beijing, in which both Chinese and foreigners participated, I had the opportunity to learn more about the background of these statements.
In Europe a very important part of planning one’s vacation are the bridge days. Especially in May there are plenty of those. Even if not leaving home or traveling far, one likes to take one day of in order to have a long weekend with one’s loved ones. However in China there is no such thing as bridge days. The Chinese just move the weekend in order to close the gap between the days off. It thus happened this year that the weekend just before May 1st was moved to Sunday and Monday and people had a six day workweek leading up to the holiday. We decided to make use of the holiday by discovering a small village in the mountains West of 北京 (bei jing). An adventure!
Everything is possible in China. Quickly, if need be. Already during my travels through China I learned that more is possible than meets the eye. In the meantime I wonder whether really everything is possible here in China. Within a very short period of time specialists are summoned, products are organized and translators are found. The resources are there, one only needs to unleash them. And how does that work? Very simple: just talk to the people.
The first month in Beijing is over, life becomes more and more normal. Many things I did not question or think about in Stuttgart, I have discover here piece by piece. Seemingly common things suddenly have to be established from the ground. Where can I buy groceries? How do I get from A to B? How do I manage with all those Chinese characters?
The first week in the year of the dragon has already passed. The new year was greeted with a lot, a whole lot of fireworks. For the Chinese the first week of the new year is an opportunity to visit family and friends and also the famous temple fairs, which are present all around Beijing.