I just had my usual “loud” conversation with my mom on the phone this morning. I say loud because the connection is lousy in our apartment and because she is losing her hearing, two bad combinations make for a very long and comical conversation. I shouldn’t complain though because I really do value the time I have on the phone with my parents. My mom made a remark that we have been gone for 6 months now and that it seemed to go by fast and she wondered if it had gone by just as fast for me. “Welllllllllllllll” I said, yes and no. We’ve definitely(I’ve definitely) had our ups and down in a short period of time, I told her I feel like in the past couple of months though that I’ve turned a corner. I think we all have. I’ve been waiting for that corner to show up. I was impatient and wanted it to happen after a couple days of moving here but that was my sick, jet lagged, impatient self wishing. It took longer than I’d hoped for but life has definitely improved and I feel we are moving along now. I’d like to hope for no more speed bumps but that’s just wishful thinking and we are living in a totally foreign country, far from home and with young kids. I think there are speed bumps in our future but I feel like I have more of a grasp on life here in Beijing and hopefully I can tackle them a little easier. Fingers crossed. 🙂
I thought I’d reflect on the highlights of living in Beijing so far and there have been many. I’ll start at the very beginning because like the song goes “it’s a very good place to start”.
In case you’ve forgotten or you are new to our blog, we arrived in China toward the end of Chinese New Year. The last week. At night it was fun to see all the fireworks in the sky but after midnight it wasn’t so fun to hear them, especially while dealing with jet lagged kids who wanted to turn around and go home. It was fun to have some holiday time before school started.
It was fun meeting the kids teachers and getting to know BCIS. The kids felt instantly welcomed and Mark and I were quickly impressed with the school and the way it is run. When moving far away from all that is familiar and comfortable it’s good to know your kids are well taken care of and are happy.
Moving out of Fraser Residence (though very nice and right across from Marks work) and into our apartment after a month was a blessing. We needed some space, a kitchen and for the kids to start making friends in our apartment complex. We love Park Avenue and so far being in an apartment has not been a problem. I worried that it would feel like we didn’t have any breathing room but we have a great layout and we are in a great area with parks and fun shopping areas. We are also across from Chaoyang Park and it’s a beautiful view from our place.
Guilin was a bittersweet trip for me. I hurt myself on this trip but still managed to have a good time and enjoy the beauty around us in Guilin and Yangshuo. It’s beyond beautiful in that part of the country. The weather was perfect, the food is yummy and the people are very friendly. It was nice to see rolling hills and some mountains and to be in a smaller town (though Guilin has 1,340,000 people) and even though it was still big in population it had a small town feel to it and very relaxing.
I loved walking around the town with the kids and buying seasonal fruit and watching Miles try new things (which he doesn’t often do but China and his 1st grade teacher Mrs. Kader have made him a bit daring in that department). Miles, we learned on that trip loves Lychee fruit and sugar cane. Sofi was in heaven with all the street vendors, especially those selling coconut drinks. It was a great trip.
Kiah coming in April was a highlight. Seeing her come out through the gate (though looking really tired and lost) made me cry and feel so happy at the same time. It’s going to be hard to have her stay back in the states when we go home next month for a visit but I have some great memories to look back on during her stay here. Plus she will return for Christmas. It’s been fun watching her go from being scared to be left alone in a store to now taking taxi’s by herself and her being able to direct the taxi driver to either turn left, right or go straight. It’s been fun to watch her as she tries something new(especially things that she finds gross) and also trying something really yummy and saying she will miss it when she goes back to the states. I’ve seen her grow more independent while being here, being a bit more brave, speaking up for herself and being even more adventurous than she already is. I’m so happy she has had this opportunity and I know she has great memories from her time here.
Seeing some wonderful historical sites together as a family and sometimes seeing them independently has been so much fun. We have many more places to see but in just 6 months we’ve taken great advantage of our time here. Miles saw and did some fun things during his schools Experience China week. Sofia went to the Forbidden City with a friend of hers and her family. Kiah, our friend Pooja and I saw the lama Temple and Mark has been to the Great Wall many times on hikes and also backpacking over night. There is a lot we want to see in China but Beijing itself is full of so many sites to see that I think we will never have enough time to see it all in the few years we have here. Watching Mark run in Great Wall Marathon was a highlight and a special moment when we saw him run the last 100 meters of the marathon.
Inner Mongolia or just Mongolia(as the Chinese call it) was a fun trip. It also had some ups and downs(mainly all the times we got lost and all the driving we did) but it was breathtakingly beautiful. The grasslands were stunning and so peaceful. You don’t realize how stressful living in such a huge city can be until you get outside Beijing and you feel yourself relax a little bit more, you can take deeper breaths and the kids can run around more freely. I think for me as a mom the part that was the best on that trip was to watch our kids and the Morris kids run and play so freely and with no worries. They were mighty warriors the whole trip with their big poles, playing in the sand dunes and building forts. We camped out by a little lake, near cattle,horses and sheep. We were hundreds of miles from any high rises or traffic jams and it was wonderful. We ate bbq lamb that night, told ghost stories around the fire, had smores(minus graham crackers that we couldn’t find anywhere in Beijing) and sang songs. It was so much fun. The stars were brighter and seemed closer than I’ve ever noticed them before, anywhere. It was a much needed trip and we had a blast.
Mark and I celebrated our 22nd yr anniversary in Hong Kong and Kiah stayed home with the kids. I also turned 43 in Hong Kong. What a gorgeous city and so fun to hang out in for a few days. One night we stayed in Kowloon so that we could have a view of Hong Kong island and then the next night we stayed on Hong Kong island to look over at Kowloon. That night (which was my birthday) we took a taxi up to Victoria Peak because of the extremely long line waiting for the tram. There is ONE tram that goes up, drops people off and then brings people back down and so on. We would’ve been waiting forever. We got up in time to see the sunset and then we had some delicious sushi. The view from up top over all of Hong Kong was so beautiful. All the lush hills reminded me of Taiwan, well that and the humidity/heat. Oh the memories.
In the short time we’ve lived here we have met some wonderful people. Some with Marks work, some at church, some in our apartment complex, my Chinese tutor Seven and her family, people from BCIS and so many more. There is an instant connection with expats and it’s comforting to have others living here experiencing and feeling the same way about life far from home and then there are Chinese people/friends who are so generous and kind. That saying “he’d give you the shirt off his own back” didn’t really mean much to me until living in Asia. The people here (even with the language barrier) are very helpful,fun to be with,honest(sometimes a bit too honest but not meaning to be hurtful just the truth),generous like I said before, caring and so inquisitive (in an innocent way).
I feel very blessed to have this chance to live in China for a few years. Turning that corner recently has opened my eyes up a bit more and helped me see things in a more positive way. It takes time with any move to get past that first hurdle, that speed bump and I think living in a huge city like Beijing and not knowing the language takes even longer. I feel like I can finally take a deep breath and feel relaxed and feel like I can do this and that our little family is going to do just fine. I can’t wait to see what the next 6 months has in store for us here. Until then I look forward to a trip back to the states next month. I can’t wait to see family and friends, eat foods we’ve all been missing and talking about (like it’s been years and years since we’ve been home) and telling family and friends about life here in Beijing.