Beijing surprises me on a daily basis, just last night, I was exploring the art district which used to be a massive industrial estate. It was poorly lit with old factories and modern sculptures everywhere. It would have been considered a very unsafe area to walk around at night, especially when we lost one of our friends and we ran as fast as we could when we heard a chainsaw grinding in the darkness. Yes, I suppose it was a bit silly, but darkness and adventure plays on your mind in unsettling environments. Anyway, after climbing up an abandoned stadium and walking over a long factory walk way, we made it to a scanty local bar which would have been closed down a long time ago if hygiene standards ever got a look in.
Last night was also KTV night. In China, karaoke is a massive pastime! Where groups of friends hire out private karaoke booths and they bring their own food and drink and they sing until their heart is content! My heart was anything but content when I first arrived at the venue. How were they expecting me to sing in front of people regardless if they were my friends or not? I am a socially awkward person in groups of people as it is, but I eventually got into it with the enthusiasm from my friend Billy and we had a ball singing old and new classics, until my voice started to go and that’ s when I decided to call it quits!
Work is going very well, I wish that I had had a placement like this when I was in Paris, although Paris was a very enriching, cultural experience, I have to admit that this placement is a very wealthy investment. I am given tasks which hold real responsibility whereas I lost a lot of motivation in my previous internship even though I was paid. The marketing director brings me into all his meetings where he gives me a very comprehensive insight into Chinese markets, learning new digital marketing strategies and establishing relationships with clients and suppliers. At the moment, I am working for clients such as Bentley motors, CCTV (Chinese Media Corporation) and Sansiri. I have another month left, yet they have made me feel like a very valuable part of the team. I would thoroughly recommend an internship out in China, because there are so many misconceptions about this nation.
Getting a taxi in this country is the most nerve wrecking issue here though. First of all, none of them speak English. You are essentially screwed if you do not have a business card with your destination’s address in Chinese. There is also a lot of hostilities towards Westerners with regards to taxis. It is quite funny though, taxis which are 100 meters away with their availability light on, will turn it off when they see a group of us calling out for a taxi or they will drive past and refuse point blank. I thought that they didn’t want to pick up groups, but it has also happened when I have just been with one person. There are many unlicensed taxis that stop to negotiate a price with you, but this is a very bad idea. It is important that you always take a licensed taxi that has a meter and the license plate starts with ‘B’. I would rather walk than take a black cab or one of those little motorised bikes with a two people cabin attached onto the back.
The weather is so hot and stuffy here. At the weekend, it was 40 degrees and I was dying, although I am getting used to it! I saw someone post on Facebook that there was a heatwave back home with a screenshot of 19 degrees, Belfast as his status. I don’t think may people from Northern Ireland would survive with the heat out here. Taking that into consideration, I think that I will be the only one with a winter coat on during the Indian Summer in September!
I will be going back to more informative posts from this blog onwards!