The thing that strikes me most is the quietness. So quiet compared to my imaginings based on trips to other parts of Asia that it is almost silent. Driving from the airport to my apartment, a trip of about half an hour along beautiful highways still marked with Olympic indications, I felt that we were the only car on the road. Everything seemed deserted. Two days in and the only place that has spoken of the massiveness of the city that I am in has been the supermarket. A two level, crazy, loud, hot, strange place. Thankfully this particular supermarket is familiar to me – Carrefour – so I knew to get my produce weighed and tagged with the price before I got to the checkout. Once I arrived at the checkout, I had about a twenty minute wait in a queue. There was a button you could press in order to “reduce time waiting by every second in line”. I did not see the results of pressing the button. Maybe it is there just to make you feel a little better, as though you have some control over the madness. Then I had to purchase again a shopping bag that I had purchased yesterday because I could not communicate to the checkout chick that I had already bought it. There was lots of miming and laughing on both parts, but in the end, I had to fork out for a bag I already owned.
I can actually remember writing that. It might have been day 2. I don’t think I will ever forget the alien feeling of being so totally illiterate. So helplessly unable to communicate beyond dancing like a chained bear. Humiliating, frustrating, humbling.