Before we moved to Beijing we spent quite a few months trying to learn Mandarin.
I did Saturday classes and Alex found a podcast which he would listen to with his headphones on, randomly saying Mandarin phrases, with exaggerated tones. Bless him.
He was particularly pleased with all the greetings he mastered. Nihao which is, of course, hello. Zaoshang hao for good morning, Wanshang hao for goodnight and Ziajian for goodbye.
He practised quite a bit and once we got to China he was all geared up to try them out. It didn’t take Alex’s colleagues long to take him to one side and let him in on a little secret.
You had to chuck out your expectations and your plans and just go with the flow. And that was especially the case with the air.
Is the air bad?
Many days the air in Beijing was ‘can’t see out the window because the sky is full of fog’ bad.
On those days you could see the smog in the halls of our apartment building and feel it in the back of your throat. I didn’t go outside, but the rest of the city did.
Teddy arrived in May last year and we found new parenthood tough, especially as we could rarely go outside.
I remember walking Teddy in his pram around the complex in the pouring rain one afternoon because it had been the first opportunity to go outside in days. We got soaked but at least we made it outside.
So it was I left Alex working in Beijing and took my 11-week-old bundle on what was meant to be a short holiday to see my family in the English countryside.
We left Beijing on August 3 2013. And we didn’t go back.
A combination of the bad air, the approaching Beijing winter, Alex’s hectic travel and work schedule meant we kept extending our trip.
Christmas came and went and we were still living with my parents in the UK.
In February this year (2014), Alex was relocated back to Australia with his job and we all moved back to our house in Sydney. We’ve been back in Australia for a good seven months but I only deleted my Beijing air quality app a few weeks ago. It was a great feeling.
Beijing seems like a dream now. I’m sorry I skipped out of our Chinese adventure early and I’m sorry I didn’t say a proper goodbye to our friends there. But I don’t regret taking Ted away from the smog. The air is wonderful. And I’ll never take it for granted again.
Image Credit: Pink Cloud Portraits for the gorgeous newborn and maternity pictures.