Saturday, July 12, 2008

The moment you step off the plane it hits you. Like a swift punch to the gut, it becomes hard to breathe. It’s almost suffocating actually. I mean I knew people had told me it would be bad, but you really have to experience the hot humidity to know how it feels. And that was my first impression of China.

It’s been a rather long day. A fifteen hour flight will do that to anyone. Coupled with my lack of sleep from packing last night I’m pretty exhausted. All the days have kind of smashed together into this one “super-day.” I should be going to sleep, but I feel like writing while the memories and impressions are fresh.

It started with a delayed flight from LAX to Hong Kong. Now I’ve actually never been to China, let alone Asia, so this trip is kind of exciting for me. There are seven of us going on this trip, working abroad. This was like our goodbye shot since the group was splitting up and going on separate flights. I know it’s a crappy photo, but it was the best one that came out. (Too much depth of field and I should have used a flash).

Fifteen hours later we arrived at Hong Kong Airport. The plane ride wasn’t too bad, I managed to get some sleep and watch some of my favorite TV shows. Like I said, the moment you step into the airport you can feel the humidity. And I hadn’t even stepped a foot outside yet. Like a true tourist/photographer, I broke out my camera right away and took a few shots of the airport. I tried not to take too many. I didn’t want to embarrass the other two guys with me too much.

This is picture of the interior of the subway that takes you from where the planes land to the customs and luggage areas. (Low depth of the field FTW):

This is another picture of the subway. I think I freaked that guy out. He turned so fast it blurred the picture. Way to look like a tourist Alan:

At the airport we met a company representative who picked us up and took us to the hotel, etc. Chinese drivers are crazy! And I thought I was an aggressive driver. Cars and motorcycles were honking all over the place and cutting each other off. At one point the driver made a dead stop in the middle of the highway. He missed his exit, so he decided to stop in the middle of the highway, reverse out of the exit, and then get back on the highway. That takes some balls.

Now of the three of us here, I can barely speak any Mandarin. Talk about an awkward car ride. I couldn’t really understand too much of what he was saying and I felt kind of bad asking the other guys to translate everything. Being unable to speak/understand the language really puts me at a disadvantage. As if it wasn’t bad enough, I got put into my own room at a different hotel than the other guys.

I’m sure I come off as super American around here. In fact, when I signed my name at the hotel, the receptionists laughed at me. Apparently they’d never seen anyone use a cursive signature. I guess I better practice writing my Chinese name. If anything, all this encouraged me to go back to the hotel and practice lots of Mandarin.

Below are some pictures of the hotel and surrounding area. This first one is a simple picture of the hotel room from standing high on the bed. I've never slept on such a stiff bed:

This next picture was taken with a long exposure to capture the nightscape around the hotel:

This was an artsyish shot I took of the name of the hotel with some money.

What can I say, I got bored. After all I am stuck in my own room by myself. I figured I take some pictures. While I may be alone in a foreign country, I’m not that lonely (at least so far). Honestly though, more than anything I’m just really scared. I’m afraid that I’m going to get chewed up and spit out by this country until I can pick up the language. I know these next few weeks are going to be rough, so all I can do is practice practice practice. Que sara sara. Thankfully my mentor at the company speaks really good English, but she won’t be there all the time and I don’t want to depend on her as a crutch.

But those are all concerns for the future. Right now I’m kind of excited about what tomorrow will bring. I’m not really sure what to expect here in China, but I’ll find out soon enough.

Click Here for more pictures!

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I'm currently running off two hours of sleep. I suppose it's my own fault. That's what I for putting off packing until Midnight last night.

My flight leaves at 1:10 P.M. and I'll be arriving in 6:55 P.M. (local time).

Hopefully I'll have some time to get writing done when I land.

Dec 22 - I'll arrive at LAX


Monday, July 7, 2008

There's something very humbling and relaxing about camping. It's an attempt to return to a simpler uncluttered existence. Where some people see inconvenience, I find pleasure. It's nice to go out and get filthy dirty. To go out and work with your blistered hands. But more than anything I love to be in nature and enjoy the sights. I'd almost forgotten how lovely blue the sky can be, how colorful the sunset/sunrise can be, and how bright the stars are away from city lights.

Maybe I enjoy camping because I feel like it puts life in perspective. It reminds me that there is something else outside of the hustle-bustle of the city. I can live without cell phones, computers, and internet (hard to believe I know). I can have fun simply with the company of my family.

Anyway, otherwise I had a fine birthday. Some of the highlights?

-I sawed my leg. Literally. I was sawing off this branch with a hand saw and it slipped and I cut my leg. Classic Alan.

-My cousin made a cute had made birthday card. Never mind the fact that she spelled birthday as "brithday" and Alan as "Lan." It was classic. I'm so hanging that on my wall.

-I brought all my camera equipment along :). Hiking 4 miles with many pounds of camera equipment was not fun though :(

Below are some of the pictures:

Click here for more photos!

I should be sleeping. Tomorrow is my first day of orientation. Wish me luck!