It was a little sad saying goodbye to Beijing.
I know many of you will want to know what I enjoyed most about living there, and what I will miss most. Well, the food was awesome, and much to the disappointment of my gym trainers, probably a little too awesome. I made some great new friends, from all over the world. Practising my Chinese on taxi drivers was a hoot, especially when I could make them laugh with me and not just at me. Another plus of living in Beijing was being able to get whatever I wanted from places like the Tatts & Bunnies market (I finally learnt the Chinese name for it… Dong Jiao. I suspect the literal translation is Rabbits and Tattoos).
I will miss my water man, who whenever he saw me walking around Central Park (where we lived) while he was making a delivery would yell ni hao with tremendous gusto! I will miss my Jamaica Blue friends, both the staff and the regulars. And my Jambo Juice lady, who was one of the first people in China I interacted with regularly.
But there’s probably two stand-out ‘things’ I’ll miss most.
Firstly, Saturday Night Dinners, which were sometimes known as Friday After Work Aria Bar Drinks, Sunday Boat Afternoons, Absinth Sessions at Sandy and Paul’s, Wednesday State of Origin Piss-ups or Sunday Night Feeds. But it always involved Sandy and Paul, or Bill and Cathy, or when we were really lucky, all four! Sometimes Kai was not in town, sometimes Paul was not in town… basically, whoever was in town joined in for the closest thing we all had to a family dinner! And sometimes this even included out of town visitors, like Jilly, Duggie, Helly, Brucie and Paul-E!
And then there were the trainers at the gym, who were a big part of my Beijing experience. Even though I never said more than ‘ni hao’ to most of them, they all felt so familiar. I saw more of them than anyone else during my time in Jingers. And I had so much fun with the ones I did deal with; more fun than I could have possibly imagined having my ass kicked day in, day out to be. Thanks gym boys – I will miss you!
So even though I didn’t have quite a Peter Hessler-esque experience (he’s the author of River Town, which I highly recommend you read because it’s everything Shantasia is not… an insightful, poignant recollection of his time spent in China), I definitely had my own experience. And, I wouldn’t change one bit!
But here’s to our next adventure… sain baina uu Mongolia!