The Value of an Education

Today’s adventure in thought inspired by life in China touches on an idea that most everyone can appreciate. It is particularly targeted to those in the midst of a pursuit of a formal education. I’d share it with you here, but this particular post was written as a special article for the Saipan Tribune, so that’s where you’ll have to go to read it! The first line reads:

“Not many things surprise me.”

Click here to read the rest! (opens in new window)

But wait! Because you’re special, you get to see a photo of some of the people I make reference to in the article that Tribune readers didn’t get to see!

Guess what I’VE been doing?

From: walt@jamaicaninchina.com

Subject: Jamaican in China!—Guess what I’VE been doing???

Date: September 24, 2010 3:52:10 PM GMT+08:00

I suppose you might be wondering what I’ve been doing, and why you haven’t heard from me in a bit. Well, I HAVEN’T BEEN gallivanting on the Great Wall of China. I HAVEN’T been loitering in Lintong, Xian, Shaanxi Province, home of the Terra Cotta Warriors, NOR have I been encouraging shy girls to “Say Hello To Me!”

So, WHAT, you ponder, have I been doing? Well, I’ve spent the last three days sequestered in a 10 x 20 hotel room debugging a software program. That’s right! It’s as exciting as it sounds! Haven’t left the room for three days, fasted for two of them, all in an effort to get a software program working correctly.

Based on recent feedback from customers and friends, I now realize that the order process for my online products has way too many steps. Sign in, billing address, shipping address, confirmation, shipping confirmation, credit card information, and finally checkout. Wasn’t an issue before, but as people  get more impatient, and as other online vendors streamline their own order process, the bar is set higher for my own sites.

One customer, in particular, included the following comment when she placed her order (teachable moment, here, so pay attention all you potential internet entrepreneurs and future nomadpreneurs):

“The ordering process is too long…too many screen before the order is complete.   I really need this information so I was determined to complete this order.  Otherwise, I would have given up.”

A good friend had said pretty much the same thing a few days earlier. So, not being one to ignore messages from the universe, I set about finding a better shopping cart and found one with a one-page/one step checkout process! Once implemented, it would streamline the order process, encourage sales, and improve cash flow. There was only one little challenge….it didn’t work!!!

Well, actually, it DID work very well, except for one feature that didn’t seamlessly mesh with my existing checkout system. So, I set about debugging the PHP software to get it to work. My last three days in China have gone pretty much like this:

  • Get up in the morning
  • Stare at php code
  • Teach myself php code
  • isolate which file out of 6008 program files is causing the error
  • Deduce a fix
  • change a line of code
  • save the file
  • upload the file
  • Place a sample order with a sample product (enter my billing address, credit card information, click submit)
  • Receive an error message
  • Stare at php code
  • Teach myself php code
  • isolate which file out of 6008 program files is causing the error
  • Deduce a fix
  • change another line of code
  • save the file
  • upload the file
  • Place a sample order with a sample product (enter my billing address, credit card information, click submit) to test if my fix worked
  • Receive an error message,
  • Stare at php codeyou get the idea…At the same time, I’m submitting requests to the tech support department of the vendor, searching the online forum of current users of the software to discover if others have experienced and solved similar issues, posting to the forums, waiting for responses, implementing suggestions from experienced users…. As a last resort, I purchased vendor support and got a “patch” to fix the bug. However, the patch didn’t work. In frustration, I contacted the vendor, cancelled my order and requested a refund, and went to bed (now day two of my fast).

    However, I love a challenge! Never let it be said that I was bested by a software program.

    So, I got up today (Friday, and went at it again.) It would be a few hours until the vendor responded to my refund request, so I would attempt to get this thing to work one more time.

    Long story short (guess it’s already too late for that), at about 12 noon today, after practically rewriting the code of the errant file…..SUCCESS! Order complete! Features performed seamlessly!

    So, to celebrate, I went out into a cool Autumn day and treated myself to some fresh-squeezed carrot/apple juice, then some cucumber/celery juice, a little outing on the subway, and then on to my favorite restaurant!

    I’m still not finished, though. I’m back in the hotel room, and now that I’ve got the back end working (the important order-completion part), I still have to input all the products from all my websites, configure a few more features, customize the look of the cart and do some final tests. So, that should be another day or two here in the hotel, but there’s a light at the end of the PHP tunnel! See you on the other side, at which time, I’ll do my best to show you some more interesting things than the inside of a hotel room!

  • You’re kidding, right???? How could you NOT know????!

    From: walt@jamaicaninchina.com
    Subject: Jamaican in China!–You’re kidding me, right? How could you NOT know????
    Date: September 16, 2010 8:45:26 AM GMT+08:00

    Something has been brought to my attention that I find extremely difficult to believe. In fact, so much has it shaken the very foundational supports of my earthbound existence, that I feel I must ask YOU, my dear friends and family members, to help me do a reality check.
    You see, it all started a few days ago, when a member of my Jamaican in China mailing list wrote me an email and added the following postscript:

    p.s. Just love your multi-colored e-mails!

    Sensing something telling about her comment, I wrote back:

    R,
    Just to make sure we’re on the same page, the colors of the Jamaican flag are black green and gold, and, of course, China’s is red. So, there’s a bit of significance to the color scheme!

    To which she replied:

    I don’t remember your telling your general readership this useful piece of info.
    Might I suggest that you do so – so they can better appreciate why you picked those colors?
    Or is everyone supposed to be smart enough to figure it out for themselves (as I was not – sigh)?

    There, there, “R.” Don’t feel too bad. But don’t feel too good either. Because frankly, I’m shocked and appalled!
    Now it’s conceivable, I concede, that a bit of self-important nationalism prevented me from being objective on this topic. Lord knows, it wouldn’t be the first time a Jamaican was accused of such a transgression. However, I WILL argue that there have been numerous clues throughout popular culture as well as recent history such that no one on the planet with a pair of functioning eyes (as well as internet access, high-definition television, a blackberry, and tons of time to kill, of course) should be unaware of the colors of OUR flag!

    I mean, come on!! There’ve been so many visible clues!

    Remember the Jamaican Bobsled Team???

    Didn’t you wonder about the snazzy colors?

    Usain Bolt???

    As he ran his victory lap, and his huge black green and gold cape fluttered in the tailwind blocking the view of the finish line of the other runners who were just hitting the final stretch of the race…..didn’t you wonder about the snazzy colors?

    Okay, you may not be a sports fan, but surely you remember the familiar Jamaican-American lapel pin Colin Powell would wear on his uniform????

    Okay, okay. I made that one up. There was no lapel pin.

    It was a hat.

    Remember? He would wear it on every talk show and at every press conference.
    Don’t tell me you didn’t wonder about it?

    Besides Colin Powell, whose parents were both Jamaican, there’ve been numerous other Jamaicans and Jamaican-Americans who have influenced US and world history and culture: Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley, Biggie Smalls… Tyson Beckford, Shari Belafonte, Corbin Bleu (I have NO idea who this is, but wikipedia says he/she was in High School Musical, which I know was very popular!), Sheryl Lee Ralph, Louis Farrakhan, as well as other artists, beauty contest winners, business owners, scientists, models, musicians, politicians….I mean the list goes on and on!

    Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Jamaicans for more!

    And also
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Jamaican_Americans

    And every one of them, at some time or other, has sported the “black green and gold!”

    IF you were paying attention, you couldn’t miss it!

    Okay, okay… maybe Minister Farrakhan didn’t wear the standard issue rudeboy wool tam every Jamaican is issued at birth, but you can tell by his rebellious, fierce and independent spirit that he’s got Jamaican blood in him (His father was from Jamaica).

    Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if Barack Obama has some Jamaican in him. But, at present, this is only a theory of mine. I’d need to see a birth certificate.

    But even if you didn’t catch the entertainment spots, the sports coverage, or the political punditry, there’s basic, elementary school education for heaven’s sake. I mean, every Jamaican school child learns this little saying:

    “Hardships there are, but the land is green and the sun shineth.”

    as way to memorize the symbolic meanings of the colors of the Jamaican flag.
    0. Yellow – a symbol of sunshine and natural resources

    0. Green – the land and hope for the future

    0. Black – the burdens borne by the people

    What??? You mean they don’t teach that here in YOUR schools? Then of what possible significance or meaningful value has been your so-called education???????!!!!!

    (ahem….sorry…got a little carried away there.)

    Anyway, I’m done.

    For now.

    You have been forgiven. But, you’re not off the hook.

    Don’t let it happen again.

    But just to show my tolerance of other people’s failure to use their basic powers of observation, as well as the glaringly obvious deficiencies in the educational systems in other countries, I’ve included the flags of both Jamaica and China in the title section of this and all future mailings, and I’ve added it to the home page of the www.JamaicanInChina.com site as well, so there shall be no doubt in future.

    Walt

    p.s. Glad I could help round out your education, “R!”
    You can thank me later!

    p.p.s.

    The flag of Jamaica was adopted on August 6, 1962 which was the original Jamaican Independence Day, the country having gained independence from the British-protected Federation of the West Indies. The flag consists of a gold saltire, which divides the flag into four sections: two of them green (top and bottom) and two black (hoist and fly).

    The present design emerged from those sent in by the public in a national competition. It was originally designed with horizontal stripes, but this was considered too similar to the Tanganyikan flag, and so the saltire was substituted. Black, green, and gold are Pan-African colors. An earlier interpretation of the colors was, “hardships there are but the land is green and the sun shineth”: gold recalls the shining sun, black reflects hardships, and green represents the land. However, that was changed to the colour black representing the strength and creativity of the people which has allowed them to overcome the odds, yellow for the golden sunshine and green for the lush vegetation of the island.

    p.p.p.s.

    This image has no particular relevance to my earlier rant, but I thought
    it was pretty cool, so I’ve included it here!

    How to Meet Girls in Beijing, China

    This post is expanded with even more serious tips on dating in the Kindle/Nook edition of Jamaican in China: Guess Who’s Coming to Dim Sum! (see left sidebar) (Don’t have a Kindle or Nook? CLICK HERE to order regular, ol’ ebook and download immediately!

    From: walt@jamaicaninchina.com

    Subject: (resending) Jamaican in China!–How to Meet Girls in Beijing

    Date: September 14, 2010 5:17:06 PM GMT+08:00

    So, here’s the scenario: You’re a man. You’re not Chinese. You don’t look Chinese, and you’re planning a trip to China! Great! Congratulations!

    “So,” you ask, “how are the women there?” (Yes, guys ask that question)

    Good news:

    thing is, as a foreign (Jamaican) guy, Beijing is probably one of the friendliest places I’ve ever experienced! If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll enjoy being here.

    Here’s what you’ve got going for you. Here in China, there’s widespread curiosity about foreigners. People are advertising rooms for rent and “roommate wanted” situations with a preference for foreigners. Most everyone wants to learn English,and people are naturally friendly.

    Bad news:

    But, even so, there may be some challenges to maximizing your dating prospects. First of all, you’ll be a stranger in a strange land. It’s a different culture. There are different gender roles. You may or may not speak the language, and most people are probably going to assume that you don’t.

    But, there are also a few other challenges to meeting girls. This is an unofficial survey, but I’ve already heard it many times from the girls here in Beijing that “I‘m afraid to talk because my English is not good,” or

    “…many times we see a handsome foreigner, but we don’t know what to say.

    You see, I’ve also learned that a prevalent perception of foreigners that Chinese have (among many) is that there are certain things that Chinese shouldn’t talk about with foreigners lest you offend them.

    So think what a challenge it must be for the foreign-curious girl on the street who’s culturally shy, extremely self-conscious about how good her spoken English is, doesn’t know how to initiate a conversation, AND afraid she might offend you by saying the wrong thing?

    So, what’s a girl-seeking foreign man to do????

    Wouldn’t it be nice if you had some way of letting them know that you’re NOT an unfriendly, selfish foreigner? (I told you there were many stereotypes)

    Wouldn’t it be nice if you had some simple way to show that you’re open to talk, that you respect the language and culture?

    Hmmm….You’re probably thinking, “I wish I had a t-shirt that said, “Say Hello to me!” or one that said “Ask me anything!” That would be sooo coool!”

    Well, you can thank me later, but here it is!

    “Say Hello to Me!”

    Check this out: An actual t-shirt that says:

    跟我说“你好”   (gen wo shuo ni hao)

    Mandarain for “Say hello to me!”

    $14.99 plus shipping
    Order Now
    Long sleeve version
    $28.99 plus shipping
    Don’t like t-shirts? Well, check this out:
    an actual button that says:
    跟我说“你好”   (gen wo shuo ni hao)
    Mandarain for “Say hello to me!”
    $5.00 each; $19.95 for a 10 pack!
    What’s that? Don’t like buttons or t-shirts? Well, check this out
    an actual baseball cap that says:
    跟我说“你好”   (gen wo shuo ni hao)
    Mandarain for “Say hello to me!”
    And the best part is (again, you can thank me later), they’re all ready to order at
    So, will this t-shirt improve your love life? Well, it might get you a smile, lessen the fear of initiating a conversation, and “get you in the door,” so to speak…What you do after that is entirely up to you, your natural charm, personality and magnetism!
    p.s. And you don’t have to be in Beijing to wear it. It’ll work just as well in your local Chinatown in the US or anywhere!. (And every city’s got one!) Wear it loud and proud!
    p.p.s. Works great for women too!
    p.p.p.s. Forward this email to someone who’d be interested!
    p.p.p.p.s. Thanks to Ava Shang for her help with my research!
    On another note, here’s something you might find interesting:

    WANT MORE? Check it out

    One Night in Ho Hai!

    A few days ago, I met up with another couchsurfer and her friend for a tour of a famous little section of Beijing.

    First, we strolled down a shopping district near to Tiananmen Square chatting about life in China… (I’m learning a lot about what Chinese think about Americans. It’s pretty interesting. I’m not American, but it’s giving me a business idea I’ll share with you at another time)

    Then, took a bus to another area called Drum Tower…
    even the ducks were out that night

    and then on to Ho Hai. Great atmosphere, gondola-style, foot-powered boats cruise a lake surrounded by restaurants with solo performers.
    Nice area to bring a date!
    Jamaican-style cool in the streets of Ho Hai!
    Traditional street performers
    Sunny, Walt and Suzie

    Nomadpreneuring 101–Question of the Day



    Hey Walt, You’re actually living the life I’ve always wanted…to be anywhere in the world with my computer and still be making money…
    So tell me, how are you able to travel around from country to country…how do you work your business? I’m curious because I’m thinking about making a move myself…–Roy

    Roy is a college friend now living in California, whom I see every few years. Before I share my answer to his question of the day, let me first say that while this is a blog about my personal adventures and the lifestyle I choose to live, I’ve come to understand (and you should, too this about me) that everything I am and everything I do serves my life’s purpose.
    Before I was the Jamaican in China, I was (and continue to be) a business author known as “the Passion Prophet.” My life’s purpose through my books is to “share what I know, so that others may grow.”
    The overall theme of my writings is to help people discover, develop and profit from the pursuit of their passions. This current year’s theme is “Reclaim Your Power! Break Free! Live True to Your Self!”
    So when I share my Jamaican in China adventure, it’s not just to tell a story, but to show what is possible, to help people break free from limiting beliefs and habits. I’m here to prove a point. And that point is: you can create the lifestyle of your dreams, and here is someone (me) who is doing it, so this is just one way it can be done.
    With that said, here’s how I replied to Roy…..


    Hey Roy,
    Thanks for the question.

    Right now I’m sitting outside of the Apple store in Beijing, China, using their wi fi access.

    Yesterday I had to endure the incessant jiggling at Hooters while I used the access at their restaurant. I know. Life can be tough sometimes.

    Anyway, later today, a technician is scheduled to configure my mac to access the wi-fi where I’m currently staying, and things should be back on track.

    I’ve spent the last several years creating streams of income that don’t require my constant presence. The basis of all of the ventures is the Philosophy and Formula I shared in my book, Turn Your Passion Into Profit (Sign up online to receive some free gifts and free chapter)

    At this point, most everything is on auto-pilot. The sites are up and running 24-hours a day, people order my products, and all I need to do is respond to an occasional customer service issue and send out weekly emails. Essentially, all I need is internet access to keep track of things and “work my business.”

    I use Skype to if I have to make calls if I need to take orders or speak to customers or vendors directly.

    Even the tourism business I started in Saipan can be run all by email with the help of the vendors on island with whom I have relationships.

    You can get all the intimate details of every aspect of how I’ve structured my nomadpreneur business in the 48-Hour Quickstart Manual and learn tips on creating Websites That Sell

    Visit the PassionProfit.com site, sign up and receive access to view the products, plus a free online course…..and when my nomad schedule allows, I also do a little one-on-one coaching

    !

    Most
    of my products are also available on this special page on Amazon.com.

    Beijing Hooters girl dance break! Do you mind? I’m trying to work over here!

    Couchsurfing Party!

    Subject: Jamaican in China!–Couchsurfing party!

    Date: September 6, 2010 9:12:25 AM GMT+08:00

    So, my adventure in Beijing, China continues. As a member of the Beijing group on the couchsurfing.org site, I found out about a Saturday evening gathering. As it was just a short walk from where I’m staying in Sanlitun, I decided to attend. Well-attended with a lot of international representation.

    Now, I’m more of a stay-on-the-side-and-observe-reluctant-party-mingler, but I find the atmosphere here in Beijing makes it much easier to meet people.

    Plus, party emcee, Trevor H, did his best to introduce me to as many people as possible. Thanks, Trevor!

    There was great conversation, new contacts for future travels, and even a double proposal to punctuate the night!

    I envision the blogging getting less verbose as I do more living and less writing about it!

    (from left to right) America and China meet Jamaica and France

    Yvonne from Germany, was it?

    Inner Mongolia

    Singapore and France

    Double proposal! No, I wasn’t the one being proposed to, or doing the proposing!

    The party moves outside, then to two different nightclubs!

    You’ll have to see some other party-goer’s account of the rest of the night!

    At that point, I called it a night and headed home!

    NEXT: One Night in Ho Hai!

    Speaking Spandarish, Tiananmen Tour, Mock Meat & Lunch Lotto

    Subject:   Jamaican in China—Speaking Spandarish, Tiananmen Tour, Mock Meat and Lunch Lotto

    From:      walt@jamaicaninchina.com
    Date: Sept 3, 2010 3:00:55 PM GMT+10:00

    So, I met Cong through the Couchsurfing.org website before I left Saipan. She graciously offered to take me around to a few places in Beijing once I got there. We agreed to meet on Thursday (Day 4). Interestingly, as I had learned through her couchsurfing profile, she speaks Spanish (quite well), and so do I, thank you very much.

    As we conversed, any word Cong didn’t immediately recall in English, she said in Spanish so I could understand.

    (FYI: Maybe I should write the lived-but-never-chronicled Jamaican in Washington Heights saga and tell you about dating my college girlfriend who was a half-Chinese, half-Dominican Latina. Washington Heights is a neighborhood in upper Manhattan, New York, where the culture of the Dominican Republic reigns supreme!)

    So, this English/Spanish/Mandarin speaking Jamaican boy in China, is hanging out with a Mandarin-English-Spanish speaking Chinese girl from Beijing, and our conversation is an interesting mix of Spanish, Mandarin and English…um, let’s see…Ok, give me a minute…Spanglarin!? Spandarish!?? Yeah, that’s it! Speaking Spandarish!

    We went to the Apple store and used Baidu.com (the Chinese “Google”) via the free wi-fi access to plan our day.

    At the Apple store in Beijing getting directions

    Then we headed on the metro to Tiananmen Square. According to Cong, for most Chinese, it’s just a place to come and take pictures and where an annual festivity is held. For most westerners, the name conjures images of tanks and student protests.

    Tiananmen Square

    “Can we take a photo with you, please?” (Y’know, I’m going to start charging you girls money soon)

    Jamaican on the Streets of Tiananmen

    On the way to the restaurant (my third time this week), we stopped at a juice bar where I introduced her to wheat grass. She was adventurous, tried a bit, and liked it! That’s amazing! Personally, I hate the stuff! I just drink it for the chlorophyll and health benefits!

    She noted that seeing me enter the store, grab a blade of grass from a tray and eat it, was just about the most shocking thing she’d seen in a while. It was like seeing someone stoop down on the sidewalk, and start grazing on a lawn!

    Say “cheese!” oops, that’s dairy….um, say “soy protein!”

    So, check this out. A little-known secret of restaurant dining in Beijing is what I’m going to call “Pay List Lotto!”  (If I recall correctly, the mandarin phrase for check translates literally as “pay list.”)  According to Cong, you can request a special feature on your check for the meal that has a scratch-off lottery option. Most times, you just reveal a “thank you!” but she once won money!

    The restaurants won’t automatically offer the ticket since they’re charged some sort of tax when they do. Even if you’re hip to the game and request it, some restaurants may weasel their  way out of giving it to you claiming to be out of the tickets. But now you know!

    Ahem, It goes without saying, of course, that one of the most important phrases I am determined to learn is how to ask for that darn ticket!

    Did we win?!

    Beijing Metro

    And, thanks to Cong, in a just a few hours, I’m already starting to recognize and understand Chinese characters!

    All in all, a great day! Thanks, Cong! There had been tentative plans to attend the Couchsurfing Foodie Night later that evening, but I was in a stay home mood by day’s end!

    ~~~~~~~~~^^^^~~~~~~~~~~~^^^^~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    New life to live, new things to learn

    green grass to drink, and even money to earn!

    ~~~~~~~~~^^^^~~~~~~~~~~~^^^^~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Life as we know it

    Subject: SPECIAL Jamaican in China!–Life as we know it (a missive fi di massive)

    From: walt@jamaicaninchina.com

    Date: September 1, 2010 12:36:34 PM GMT+10:00

    Dear friends,

    I will make this brief.

    This is a special email. It is being sent out of sequence to a select group of people to share with you what just happened on my second day in China (even though you haven’t received the first day’s chronicle yet), because the significance of what I’m about to share with you defies adequate description in words, and can not be overstated.

    Life on the planet as we know it, has been irrevocably altered.

    And, in the familiar Yin/Yang “good news-bad news”  construct:

    First, the GOOD news:

    Today, I found a VP2 style restaurant in Beijing!

    For those of you who knew me in New York, you’ll recall the Chinese vegetarian restaurant, Vegetarian Paradise 3 (VP3), in New York’s Chinatown, which closed after Sept 11, and whose remaining sister location, VP2, is now thriving on West 4th Street in The Village close to New York University.

    If so, you know what that restaurant represents to my life and gastric happiness, so you can already appreciate the earth-shattering, life-altering significance of what I’ve just shared with you.

    The name of this restaurant is Tianchu Miaoxiang Vegetarian Restaurant (Chinese name: 天厨妙香素食(朝外店); found it on happycow.net). Out of courtesy to those who aren’t familiar, I won’t get into too much detail, but for those who know, it’s VP2 and then some! They’ve got a menu of about 20 pages, with all the mock meat, seaweed and veggie dishes we know and love, plus more stuff that exists here “at the source!”

    menu

    Sample of a page of the menu

    The manager, Christina–as the only one on staff who speaks English–catered to me, explaining dishes, and making suggestions. (I think I’m in love.)

    christine

    Me and Christina

    And finally, at the end of a sumptuous meal, which cost only 114RMB or about 16US, she refused to accept a tip–explaining Chinese culture and restaurant policy to me in the process. (A restaurant that won’t accept tips! Can life get any better than this?? Tell everyone you know: Heaven’s got a sign at the gate: “Cheapskates Welcome!“)

    This in a city where everywhere I go, I’m besieged by friendly Chinese ladies who stare, smile, offer their numbers, and are making life quite pleasant. So, in any event, that’s the good news.

    BAD news:

    Now, the bad news.

    um…today, I found a VP2 style restaurant in Beijing, China.

    This means–my dear, sweet, close friends and family–you who’ve made my life special for all these years, and who mean the world to me–this means, you will likely never, ever, ever see me again.

    Buh-bye.

    whooooosh!

    flap, flap, flap, flap, flap….

    [the sound of a curtain fluttering in the breeze….]

    Day 1. I think I’m going to like it here

    Subject: Jamaican in China!–Day 1. I think I’m going to like it here

    From: walt@jamaicaninchina.com

    Date: September 1, 2010 1:29:00 PM GMT+10:00

    on the flight from saipan
    On the five-hour flight to China–the last charter flight leaving Saipan direct to Beijing

    The minute I step of the plane, I get besieged by people who want to take their photo with me.

    on the tarmac
    Finally got some time to take a photo by myself

    We hop on a bus to the terminal,

    At the baggage-claim, I meet a mom and son who were returning from Saipan and exchange contact information. My first contacts in Beijing. I need a cell phone.

    At the information counter, Jyang helps me contact the Embassy, we exchange email addresses, and she agrees to show me around Beijing once I get settled. Hmmm…I need a cell phone.

    With the name of my destination written in Mandarin characters, I head down to street level, where I take a taxi to meet Les. I won’t show you the photo of the shiesty taxi driver who tried to charge me $70 US dollars for what should have been a $6US ride from the airport to the US Embassy where Les works.

    Beijing buggy!

    While on our way to get me a cell phone, we spot a young lady who happened to be walking with a pair of golf clubs, which gave Les an opportunity to strike up a conversation. Turns out–now get this–she’s Jamaican! Her name is Anna, and she says there’s about a 20-person community of Jamaicans here! I give her my email and she promises to connect and introduce me to the “massive!” (Jamaican slang for “a crowd of people!” I need a cell phone.

    anna
    Anna, one of the few other Jamaicans in Beijing!  Big up!
    Les
    Les bargains for a good deal for my new cell!

    Ok. I got a cell phone.

    So, now I’m set…I’ve already met a few contacts with whom I’ll need to share the new number for the Jamaican in China!

    Yes, I think I’m going to like it here!

    Les shows me around a bit more, then goes back to work, and I roam about town for a bit buying fruit and window shopping.

    Last time I was in China, I had a few ok, but bland meals (prepared by chefs who I restricted to certain ingredients) and lived on cashews and raisins when I didn’t have a Chinese-speaking guide to instruct the chefs.  Similarly, when I want to Manila, I subsisted on lara bars and fruit for two weeks. (I didn’t find the vegetarian restaurant until the night before I left)

    Tomorrow’s adventure: Finding a true vegan-friendly restaurant in Beijing!