Today we went to our friend’s house in Beijing. It was nice to spend the day relaxing with friends… after a great homemade Chinese lunch (we learned how to make a couple of yummy dishes!), we went to their son’s piano concert. That was also fun… he’s about 5; and kids at that age play the piano so cutely. The teacher also played, and she played amazingly… so it was an all-around relaxing evening.

On the way home, we were in thick traffic, and slowly passed a place that looked vaguely familiar. After thinking for a couple of minutes, I realized that it was the hotel where we stayed on our very first trip to China 2 years ago. It was really surreal. I told Jacob where we were, and he didn’t believe me at first! But upon closer look, he agreed. It was surreal because my memories of that place are that it was totally foreign; it felt a little bit dirty, crowded, run-down… the sights, sounds, smells – everything… during that first trip, it felt like another world. Now it seemed completely normal and even nice!

Jacob and I aren’t sure which changed more — the area (which has undergone some renovation), or our perception. It is probably the latter. Living here is changing us. When we would first go to the market, we’d be overwhelmed by the chickens in the cages and the vegetables in the middle of the dusty street. Now it doesn’t seem that strange. And we’re comfortable buying and eating just about anything. (And we haven’t been sick yet!)

When our guests to arrive later this week, it will be an interesting study to find out what they feel about this place, and how it contrasts with our feelings. It also makes me wonder how hard it will be when we eventually move back to the States…

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