It is our second week in Beijing. Why did I wait so long to write my first blog entry? Now I’ve forgotten almost all of my first impressions.

So far, I like it here. Here is why:

It is oddly quiet without all the scooters tearing and blaring around, like in my neighborhood in Taiwan.

It is actually pleasant to walk around here – nice wide sidewalks, plenty of room. I can walk to Mitsukoshi, where downstairs there is Bread Talk a great bakery with the best foam on a cappucino I have ever had. There is also a grocery that looks exactly like Jason’s but it is called something else.

No one points and yells “Waiguoren!” People are not that interested in me, and those that are are more discreet. A child would never point and yell “Waiguoren!”.  People here are much more subdued and not the champion talkers that are the Taiwanese. They talk quietly amongst themselves. No one asks all those prying personal questions.

We live in a highrise on the 22nd floor high above all the dust on the ground, with an expansive view of the city, a great sunset, a great view of the moon.

We have a big window seat.

It is like living in a hotel. Huge (compared to my place in Taiwan) empty rooms. Everything new and shining. No clutter. Nice sofa. Our few outfits slosh around in the wardrobe. A cleaning lady comes in and cleans 3 times a week.

There are a few conveniences here in Beijing I didn’t have in Taiwan: the mom-and-pop store in the first floor of the building next door in our complex will send anything up to your room with just a phone call. Yesterday I had them send up some bananas and carrots. Today they sent up a big jug of water for the bubbler. I love that. It is almost like room service.  Also, the cleaning lady will pick up vegetables and meat from the traditional market for me on the days she comes to clean.

We are walking distance from a subway station.

 We can walk to Wal-mart. In their deli they have great salami. I bought a half a jin for RMB 20 (NT$80), in Taiwan that would cost about NT$200.

I found a yarn store just down the street from me that sells lots of wool yarn of every weight, a few synthetic yarns (good for Kaylen’s crafts) and needles and crochet hooks and all that. Yay!

We have already had to go to the doctor. Kaylen had a mosquito bite on her foot that she scratched until she broke the skin. This got infected. I put antiobiotic ointment on it but it kept getting worse until it was all red and inflamed around it, like the size of a silver dollar. And it really hurt even to touch it, she said.

Unfortunately, I didn’t pack a first aid kit so didn’t have an alcohol swab or iodine or anything useful. I asked the cleaning lady if there was a small clinic nearby and she did not know of any. It seems to be a different system here. People go to pharmacies for small problems and to hospitals for big problems. No small local clinics. I only knew of one hospital that Melinda told me about: Beijing United. Thank goodness I was armed with at least this much information. I called them and made an apointment for that afternoon. They seem to cater to the foreign community and are a bit pricey. Their website is  http://www.unitedfamilyhospitals.com/bj/index.html. Kaylen had a French doctor. The hospital is very clean, the doctor was very thorough, the staff was very attentive.

As a result, I won’t let Kaylen wear her Crocs around anymore as I am paranoid about some foreign dirt getting into a cut and causing an infection. There is always new dirt, new germs, new mosquito venom to get used to in a new place.