A thought came to me while i was in Cali this week. Thursday night, the day before my flight back to Beijing, i was getting really excited. I thought, "I'm going home tomorrow!" Then it dawned on me that i really meant "home" in the comforting, familiar sense. I was genuinely looking forward to returning. I felt out of my element this week, partly from the jet lag and partly because my home base was Watsonville, where there's really nothing worth doing. Visiting the Target 5 times was the highlight.
Cali was pretty uneventful this time. I didn't have the opportunity to see anyone except in the last few hours. Brianna, who now calls San Francisco home, came to the international terminal of SFO to have a cup of coffee with me. It was probably 90 minutes of travel for 60 minutes of visit, but greatly appreciated. It was so nice to see a good friend, even for just one hour. Also, I passed a small test before she arrived. I needed to call her to tell her where I was, but had no phone. I asked this Chinese couple next to me if I could borrow their phone for one call. They didn't understand and I immediately realized they were not ABCs (american born chinese) but actual CBCs. I broke out my basic Chinese and said something like "I don't have a phone, do you have?" The man took his phone out and said "Yes, I have." I realized he was simply answering the question I asked, like I was taking a survey and would move onto the next person with the same question. I said, "Can I call?". He laughed, I made a call, and silently congratulated myself.
Anyway, i noticed a difference in my Beijing arrival this time. It was not unfamiliar. I was practically a veteran now, already talking like a local . On the way to customs, I was standing behind a girl from Utah. She had lost the immigration form they give you on the plane. She needed a new one. But what she asked me was something like, "Do you speak Chinese? Can you help me get another form from this lady?" Well, I didn't really answer the first part (which would have been "no"), but I said I could help her. I scanned my vocabulary for the necessary words, and realized I had all the tools. We went up together and got her sorted out. That felt really good. Two Chinese victories in one day. Nice.
Lastly, one of my favorite parts of the flight between BJ and SF is flying over Siberia and Alaska. Or Kamchatka if your geography comes from Risk. This time I remembered to get some pictures. Pretty awesome views.
Spectacular place to look at, but i will not be visiting anytime soon.