My apartment's on the fourth ring road, which is about a 30 minute drive from the Forbidden City (according to my host brother). We arrived a few hours ago, and surprisingly I'm not terribly tired. The flight was 13 hours, incredibly long. I didn't really sleep, but at least it's over with now.
My host mom speaks English very well, which is good, at least right now. My host dad speaks very little English, mostly little phrases he learned from my host mom and brother. Eventually, I'll ask both my host parents to speak to me only in Chinese, but I've only been here a few hours, so for now some English is good.
I have my own room, and it's a little smaller than my room at home. The bathroom was very different. There are two rooms. The first one has a sink and a mirror, and the second one has the shower and the toilet. The shower is just a movable shower head, not like the fixed ones in America, which I was expecting. What I did not foresee, however, was how complicated taking a shower would be. I turned the water on easy enough, but it came out scalding hot, and I burned my hand not once, but several times. Then, once I got it cold, it came out freezing. After about 15 minutes, I finally was able to keep the water lukewarm long enough to actually wash myself. Here's the second problem. I couldn't figure out what was soap. I ended up just using shampoo (at least I'm pretty sure it was shampoo) on my entire body. For something as simple as a shower, it sure was damn complicated.
My first impression of Beijing was incredible. As we drove closer to the city center (the airport's near the 6th ring road, even further out than my apartment), I saw more and more high rises. When we got off the ring road, I saw lots of little shops, like the kind you see in Chinatown. In fact, it seemed less like China and more like gigantic Chinatown. The one weird thing I saw was a man riding a bicycle, carrying several large bundles behind him. It looked rather funny.
I'm off to dinner now, more posts to come...