Starbucks is a sacred place, this is where I come to study and to drink some nice coffee, it just isn’t the same in other cafés. Wifi is good and if you manage to find a Starbucks inside an office building, it is usually quieter.Top picture is where i live now: Jinguan hotel
Today is the National Holiday, meaning everybody is one the road traveling to visit relatives and old friends. Yesterday I went to Beijing, which was perhaps not the brightest idea, given that the holidays where coming up. I have never seen that much people in a train station before and now we’re talking about China. I’m surprised I even managed to get tickets, though I ended up leaving Beijing at eleven in the evening, everything else was sold out. I went to visit the Swedish Environmental Research Institute, a company that deals with wastewater treatment here in China and knows about regulations and laws to prevent pollution. My professor arranged for me to go there and help with a project of theirs, while writing my essay on the same subject. This is an amazing opportunity to see how things works here in China and it could open up a lot of doors for me. They seemed genuinely happy that I was there and asked if I was interested in doing an internship for them some time next year, yay!
This week all lessons are cancelled, so now is the time to travel, except everyone does, so tickets are hard to get by. We are planning to visit some places outside of Tianjin and seize the opportunity to breath some fresh air. The air quality is better here than in Beijing, but I still find myself coughing and squinting with my eyes on the days where the city is covered in what looks like fog, but really is pollution. Tianjin is about two hours away from the ocean, you can take the subway to the end station and from there are busses going every hour. I haven’t really been around that much in Tianjin, most of the time I spend at campus or in its surroundings. There so many nice little restaurants and I already have my favourite 凉面liangmian cold noodles place and my favourite 麻辣汤 malatang spicy soup place, so cheap and so good. The best food is the street food, which is very different from home. You can buy like a hot sweet potato hongshu 红属, congbing 葱饼 springonion pancake, some nice chuanrs 串, food on wooden sticks that is grilled over hot coal and then eaten with spices. So much nice food, so little time. I think I will havet o dedicate at least 2-3 more pages simply about the food here, there’s just so much that we have no idea about in Sweden. The Chinese food in Sweden is just not the same as it is in China; it is more like Thai food.
Another thing that you usually react to as a foreigner here in China are the toilets. That was one of my biggest concerns coming to China for the first time. Luckily I ended up living in a really nice apartment in a quite rich area, so we had a ”normal” toilet, however, if you need to use the public toilets in some hutong area, you are lucky if there walls between the toilets. Just the other day when I was sitting at a café doing some homework, I needed to use the bathroom and went to find it. When I entered all doors were wideopen and occupied by five chinese middleaged ladies that were having a pleasant conversation amongst themselves, as it was the most common thing in the world. I quickly closed MY door and when I got out they just looked at me and said: –Why are you foreigners always closing the door? That is so strange, why would you want to close it? Why indeed…I just smiled and walked out, not a discussion I felt I would win.
This Friday was my birthday and I celebrated that by loosing my bag with wallet and cellphone. Great. We went to the police and they were really helpful, but there wasn’t really much they could do, so now I am phoneless and cardless. At least I still have my passport and driver’s licence, so not all is lost. Other than that, we just had some nice sushi and cake. Tomorrow we are going to some hotsprings outside of Tianjin and I can’t wait, it’s about time I take a look around and do things.