In Beijing, China
Sunday, July 09, 2000
At the airport, I met another Sri Lankan delegation, which was heading for Beijing to attend the same conference. Two lady teachers and one of the parents were accompanying some young boys from the Royal College, Colombo to take part in the I*EARN Youth Summit.
When I was on board the plane I was so thrilled like a child who was given a ride in a merry-go round. I was impatient till the take off. I thought a little before departure about how my life had changed during a short period of time. After an exciting few minutes, the Singapore Airlines flight took me to Singapore over the Strait of Malacca, where Sri Lankan business magnate Upali Wijewardene‘s aircraft disappeared while flying over the Straits of Malacca.
I saw the sunrise from the Window – must thank Ms. Chulie de Silva for booking me a seat by a window – it was such a beautiful scenery. Singapore was my transit airport so I got on board another flight to reach China.
When I was flying over the sea, I spotted the islands, countries which I had only seen in maps. Wow! What a joy to see those maps in real? As a keen student of geography, I could mark more than 150 countries if I were given an empty world map in my school days.
At the Beijing Capital Airport I had some trouble since my name was bit complicated to the officials due to its unusual length. My full name is Tikiri Bandage Nandasiri Wanninayaka. It takes 33 letters to write my name. And 13 letters of the English alphabet are used in it. I had to answer endless questions at the airport and then I was released. A nice looking square-faced Chinese girl was waving an I*EARN sign near the exit gate of the airport and few Americans were also there. An unusually shy American guy, Michael Chertock and Miss Zoya were my first friends. Then we came to the Hotel we stayed by a taxi. I was amazed to see the square faces everywhere……….. In Sri Lanka we see round faces. But in China every face is square. Chinese letters, which I saw along the roads also, looked square. Oh! even in our alphabet we have round letters and our people have round faces.
To see ever laughing and ever teasing Ms. Celia Einhorn (an American professor whom I had met in Sri Lanka) was a great pleasure to me. She was with her husband, a man with a huge beard all over the face. Another interesting person I saw was Mr. Jose Avila from the USA. An extremely tall easygoing guy. I was invited to have dinner with Celia and the other American friends at a restaurant outside the hotel. As I was very hungry, had a heavy Chinese meal. Oh, what a taste! You can eat anything the Chinese cooks cook. The food was so good-smelling, delicious and cheap. I remembered the saying “Heaven is to have an American salary, British house, a Chinese cook and a Sri Lankan wife.”
Walked a little with Avila and Paul Lucero in Beijing after dinner. People were cooking and eating outside the houses in small streets. They said it was due to the extreme heat prevailed. But I didn’t find the heat that uncomfortable since I also am from the dry zone of my country.
My roommate was a Nepali guy called Bishnu Bhatta. Slept well after watching television for a while. Gosh!!! All the programs were in Chinese. Watched Hercules dubbed in Chinese.