Thursday, September 2, 2010

回国, 回家

I'm back in the US! It's been a week since I've been back and boy do I love and appreciate the sight of blue skies, white clouds more than ever. I also love how much diverse foods you can find in my hometown and I'm sorta experiencing reverse culture shock. I realize how much I've gotten used to the differences in Beijing and China in general from the way things are here. I love discovering new things and new places but I love rediscovering the familiar even more! lol

after the final dinner, lots of ppl went to houhai or clubbing to party it up one last time. i didnt go but both my roomates did and i have no idea when they came back in the morning. in the morning, i finished packing, altho sean didnt help cause he brought over overfill from his luggage to pack into mine -__- anyway, the ppl going on the traveling checked out and i said final goodbyes to whoever liked us enough to wake up at 8am to say final farewells. from our group only ken and cody came down to see me, sean, gandhi and matt off. dora and kat were crying saying goodbye to jessica. other friends were there too, even the korean girl, sorae (aka emily, the cute one). so everyone was hugging each other, so touching <3 our little group of 17 got on the bus and left, waving goodbye to everyone as we drove away. awwwwww

ok so ud think we'd leave beijing pretty efficiently, but nooo there was very heavy traffic on the highway and i think gui laoshi was nervous we'd miss the plane but wen we got there, we were told the flight was delayed for at least 3 hours. 3 hours?! are you kidding me? thats how long our flight is! XD so gui laoshi organized us and checked us into a very sleezy hourly hotel by the airport. we took hotel shuttles there. oh man the hourly hotels were shitty as hell. every one of our rooms stank of pee, smoke, or the combination of that and other unidentified smells. it was gross. sooo what were we supposed to do to kill time? play mahjong! room too small? drag a table out and play in the hallway! bryan had brought his set of mahjong tiles and him, matt, charles, and someone else started playing mahjong in the middle of the hallway, heck, we owned the hall and all the rooms down it anyway. they played a few games and me and sean relaxed in our rooms, playing computer games and watching TV like the original monkey king, classic spiderman and winnie the pooh (in 3-D CGI, oh boy), all in chinese of course. we had lunch at the hotel's restaurant. the food was terrible. it was potluck style and everyone had metal trays with compartments, like you see in jails or bad high schools or something. anyway, the food was gross and i barely ate anything. at that point, it was time to go back to the airport.

omg security was a bitch. not for me, but waiting for sean. he accidentally left his swiss army knife in his backpack along with lots of other things like chargers which the machine picked up so he had to take almost everything out of his backpack, and he was carrying a really heavy backpack jammed full of crap. he had to go thru the security line all over again. i was also cramping by then so i was not a happy camper. everyone also had to do patdown, where you have to stand on a platform and the woman pats you down with her hands and her metal detector thingy. kinda embarrassing and invasion of my privacy bubble. =/ ugh 8:30am leaving our friends, and our dorm, the beijing campus, and finally, finally at 3p we departed beijing. took fooooorrrever to get out of there.

the plane to kunming was half full- or half empty, whichever way you want to see it so the stewardesses were giving seconds during lunch to whomever wanted it. the food, i recall, wasn't very appetizing. when we landed, the sun was setting, so it was soo nice. after being in beijing for 6 weeks, i tell you there was literally only 3 or 4 days that you could actually see the blue sky. and then we landed in kunming and everyone could breathe properly, and could see the beautiful, gorgeous setting sky and clouds. man, it felt soo good to leave the congested grey capital. our tour guide picked us and gave everyone a red carnation. =) she explained, kunming is also called city of spring or city of flowers because there are always flowers growing here, there is never an off season for flowers. the hotel was really nice and in some ppl's room, there was a mahjong table in the corner. soo guess what we did for the rest of the night? lol we played mahjong! on a proper mahjong table!! we felt so lucky! hehe. the table could also be plugged in and the middle of the table would pop out and you could shove all ur pieces in and it would automatically shuffle!! alas, we couldnt figure out how to make it work for us. the table was too high tech for us and there was no instructions. i had to fish out the tiles from inside the table. i had small hands, they said. but really, if we figured out how to work the table, it woulda been soo epic. automatic shuffling and lying out the wall for you, plus blinking lights and rolling dices in the middle, drawers on each side for stashing ur gambling money. oh man, woulda been so sweet.

the next day, saturday, we first went to take pictures at the iconic gates of the city, named jade rooster and golden horse gate. 10 years ago, they did not exist, let me tell you that. lol. ive been on this exact literary before, 10 years ago with family. so everywhere that we were going to go for the next 10 days, ive already been. ok, so after that gate, we traveled to the stone forest. we rode thru the scenic rural countryside, it was a looong ride. the stone forest was actually pretty cool. the area used to be the floor of the ocean millions of years ago and the rock formations, which used to be at the bottom of the sea floor survives today. this was a karst type park so the rock worn by time, weather, all that good stuff formed some pretty interesting stuff to look a
It was a great day to be outside and enjoying the sunshine but after an hour of walking, it soon felt pretty hot. Parts of the rock trail would be worn smooth when ppl use the rocks for leverage climbing up the stone steps. But some parts were still pretty sharp stone jutting out, so you had to be careful. We had lunch at a restaurant nearby and they were holding an auction selling chinese paintings. This was obviously a place for foreigners, we even saw a white family. Next, we headed to “colourful yunnan” which is basically a government controlled shopping area selling mostly yunnan jade and silverware. We went inside but couldn’t afford much since the price range was waaaay beyond us. Everything was really beautiful though. The best jade for the best price you could find in china (or so the gov tells us). After this, we went for tea tasting. We sampled 5 kinds of tea: sleeping beauty which was bland tasting, very light colored, young pu-erh which was very bitter which was supposed to compare to aged pu-erh, which was very strong tasting, and wine colored, jasmine tea which smelled SO good lol but had very little taste, and finally black tea. I sampled a few more since I was buying other kinds of tea-green tea and qing tea for my grandpa. Other ppl in the group bought pu-erh tea to bring home.

On Sunday we went to the western mountains, the mountains near kunming. There were Taoist and Buddhist temples carved into the side of the mountain and we hiked up there to see it. 10 years ago, these temples weren’t there. We had a great view of the city down below. For lunch, we went to eat the specialties of the kunming. There was an eggshell stuffed with …things…lol. It was pretty unique cause ud have to peel off the eggshell as if inside was a hard boiled egg, but its not. After lunch, we went on the road to dali. We trekked through the beautiful rural countryside with its usual run down mountainous roads.

On Monday we went to the historical 3 pagodas, symbol of Buddhism and the icon of the city of Dali. The centre pagoda is over 1000 years old and the two smaller ones on either side of it are more than 800 years old. Hard to imagine they stood for that long. We then took a 4 decker ship cruise on the nearby lake. We all enjoyed the nice breeze and we stopped on an island with a huge white statue of the bodhisattva, Guanyin. Going back to shore, we attended a minority dance performance on the boat accompanied with their 3 course tea. The 2nd course of tea was reaaaaally sweet and tasty. The other ones were blah. We got back to the hotel with plenty of sunlight left, some ppl were already getting sunburned from the day’s activities. The centre courtyard is open to the sky and so picturesque chinese, so some ppl from the trip took this opportunity to play mahjong there lol.

On Tuesday, we went back on the road again, destination: Lijiang. Every time we changed cities,  we had a new local tour guide and this tour guide took us to Ancient Town Suhe where it showcases the minority ppl called the Naxi and their ancient trading town, one of the stops along the Tea and Horse trail in ancient china. The place had a lot of historical feel to it and canals of running water was on every street. Something about fengshui and the king’s superstition. We walked around there for a while and later went to the cultural museum where we learned more about the Naxi, Dali and Tibetan people. We then went to a park called Black Dragon Pool, it was very scenic and we enjoyed a recreation of a simple ancient chinese symphony using chinese traditional instruments. We ate dinner in a little restaurant in the city of Lijiang, soo many chinese tourists here!

On Wednesday, many ppl from our group got really sick, including me. The tour guide said it was probably reaction to the high altitude, so not many ppl joined the day’s activites, which was going to a dance performance about the minority ppl and then going up to the snow mountain and learning about the Naxi myths. Most ppl stayed at the hotel and slept/threwup/took advil/had diarrhea.

On Thursday, most ppl were feeling better and we continued our trip, on to Shangri-La. Going even higher altitude! 11,000 feet! It took all day to get there, but we did stop and a Tibetan family welcomed us to take a look inside their traditional house. The living room was a wide open space, integrated with the kitchen. I was familiar with the layout since the art museum had shown me an exhibit on this before. We travelled thru bad mountainous narrow and windy roads. The driver even got into a screaming fight with an oncoming car that almost hit us. and we were so scared we were going to fall down the mountain, the roads were tiny! Yet the driver would go speeding at 80mph. Terrifying. At night, some of us opted to go to the tibeatan folk dance and song performance. Admission price included unlimited chinese wine, called baijiu, and tea and snacks. This audience was more rowdy an probably more tipsy than most lol.

On Friday, we had reached Shangri-la and getting accoustomed to the high elevation. We went to a horse riding place and we all rode on our own tiny tibetan horse! some of us were poo-ing at the fact we couldnt control our horse, it was lead on a rope by someone walking along side us. safety reasons, they said. boooo. but it was still very refreshing wide open place, filled with purple (!) wildflowers and plains stretched as far as you could see, with green lush mountains surrounding and horses and buffalo dotting the surface. After, we went up the a Tibetan monastery, commissioned by the 14th dali lama, they said. To get up there, we had to climb up a set of very steep steps. OMG Most of us were completely out of breath like we had run a marathon, but it was only lack of oxygen and we weren’t used to it. Going inside the monastery there were so many rules you had to follow like you had to walk in a clockwise direction around the temple and of course, you couldn’t take any pictures. Everything inside was so colourful just like their flags/banners and so much gold everywhere, so many intricate designs. Pretty cool.

Saturday we took the flight to shanghai. Omg blast of hot air all over again. The last week travelling the weather was perfect like in the bay area, but once we got to shanghai and metropolis, we were reminded it was full on summer in china again. Our hotel was really really nice and at night I went with a group of ppl to a shopping and eating district in shanghai, just like most districts in shanghai, im sure. We had mcdonald’s. and yes we couldn’t wait to go back home lol.

Sunday we went to the World’s fair, AKA world expo. I don’t see how ppl can survive the heat and sun all day standing in line. Honestly this wasn’t the funnest day. sean got high fever that wouldn’t go down, heatstroke I believe and I didn’t feel well myself only after half a day at the expo. We just relaxed at the luxurious hotel and rested.

Monday we went up to the pearl tower, 3 hours of lines ugh. I liked the museum inside the tower, showed a lot of shanghai history and made it interesting too. We went to the shanghai museum next, a lot of ppl weren’t interested and wanted to do their own thing. It wasn’t that interesting lol. Then the tour guide took us to a very popular tourist shopping area. TONS of ppl omg in very narrow alley/walkways. Didn’t really get much done, just a lot of sightseeing and I hate that. At night, we had our farewell dinner at the hotel. All you can eat buffet, and very beautiful and delicious food, the kind served at upscale hotels hehe.

Tues: homeward bound! Flight back to US. Bye bye china, ill come see you again in shanghai. I didn’t get a good feel for you at all this time around. And Beijing, hopefully ill see you soon too.t. not to mention its pretty impressive looking.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Catchup Post

Why do I always take so long between posts? I'm always a week behind. I'm only doing this post cause internet stability is going to be nonexistant until I come home and/or I steal it from the hotels I'll be staying at.

Let's continue from the last post, last day of painting class. I was late for my classes in the morning cause I slept in late but I got to kouyou class on time and it was my day to do a baogao- a report on anything topic you chose. I did mine on the dialects of china and wouldnt you know it, the substitute teacher not only teaches chinese but is also a linguisitcs major! so after my brief intro of chinese linguistics to the class, the sub decided to ignore the lesson plan and instead continue my baogao and talk in depth about chinese linguistics and tones across dialects, in chinese of course. i was so happy hehe =D

the last painting class, we did grapes. not too interesting but some ppl's grapes were so big, they practically became plums or something lol. well we took a group pic of the painting class and the mounting guy came and gave us all our final mounted pieces. standing ovation for sean's waterfall piece. it was pretty epic. really nice, musuem quality.

on friday, i discovered my first big bug bite since coming to china. this is actually a pretty good score so far, bug:1, maggie:0. im surprised it took so long for me to get one of those epic-ly big bug bites 5 weeks into coming to beijing. =p i got bit on my upper arm so when it swells, it looks like ive been working out lol.

i missed classes completely on friday and got a good 14 hours nights rest. felt so good and refreshing. then matt, cody, gandhi, sean and me went to a tailoring place in sanlitunr to get custom made shirts. matt and cody ordered full suits for only 1000RMB, so thats about $150 for blazer, dress shirt and trousers, tailored to your body. not bad, not bad at all. shirts were 200RMB each. gandhi some shirts and pants while sean got 2 shirts. when we went to get them on monday, everyone's turned out really nicely, even sean's dark purple shirt. guess who picked that color lol. we saw other CLERC ppl come by and pick up their orders. this is because we all got recomendations from david, the mob boss of our group, he gets alot of his wardrobe done here. no wonder he looks so good. afterward, we walked around the dept stores section of sanlitun and didnt find anything. everything was american pricing so we didnt buy stuff. we did see the alanna dress from a 3 story Uniqlo, the grey one with shoulders open. sean wanted me to get it lol but it wasnt on sale like alanna's. but wen i tried it on, everyone said i looked just like her lol.

we took the subway back, it takes an hour to get back and we just ate the food stalls still open on campus, the ones we pass by when we go to class in the morning. afterward, the guys and me, minus stuart all watched stepbrothers on cody's laptop in gandhi's room. there was so many guy jokes and toilet humor that i almost couldn't stand it, but being around so many guys, i kinda get used to it and i could say i even sorta enjoyed the movie. by the time we finished, it was close to 1am and we went to bed.

saturday was the last CLERC fieldtrip day. we went inside both bird's nest and the watercube. man, the bird's nest is pretty impressive up close and its hard to imagine all the seats being filled when its so emptied out now. everything is so red and intense. the field is so big and just the capacity of the stadium is impressive. so is the selection at the souvenir store lol. next we went inside the water cube, this building was alot smaller and half of it was access denied since they made it into an indoor water park. the water park looks soo much fun! i havent been to one since elementary school probably. the rest of the water cube was very boxy but airy. there was also lots of bubble motifs everywhere. the award pool wasnt as big as i thought but you know, some things looks bigger on tv i guess. by the time we finshed touring both places, we were starving, we went to a restuarant to eat and the food was finished off pretty quickly. the restuarant also had a stage where after we finished eating, there was some minority group dances but they werent that good. i was too busy playing with a rubiks cube that bryan brought. he is a wiz at it, can solve it in literally a minute.

after lunch, we got driven to the hutongs near houhai. i felt familiar with these lol since i got lost in one for an hour. first we went up to the drum tower and saw a drum performance. back in ancient china before clocks, drums and bells were used to announce the time. the drum tower is in the same line as the olympic stadiums, forbidden palace and tiananmen square. they say that if you live near this line, you'll live longer and happier lives. good fengshui. the drum performance was pretty cool, front row standing seats lol. the climb up that tower was really steep tho, i felt like doing a stepmaster but on steroids. the steps were really really steep!! and as gandhi will never let us forget, it takes 69 steps to climb up to the top. coming back to solid ground, we went on a ride thru the hutongs driven by a guy on a bike, two ppl to a seat in the back. we stopped at a guy's house, his family's been living there for 5 generations. hutongs are the old school communities in beijing, narrow alleyways connect houses and its where everyday normal ppl live. the houses and the area looks shabby but actually are the most expensive places to live in, mostly because ppl want the experience of a real neighborhood instead of high rises. anyway, we went into this guys house, very modest place and chatted with him. he's had olympic guests come visit him and all sorts of famous ppl. we were more interested in his birds. they could speak chinese if you talked to them! they could say hello and have you eaten in mandarin. that was pretty cool.

on sunday, we basically studied and took a chill day. i did my survey and had to go out and ask ppl around campus questions in order to do a questionaire type thing for class. it was so embarrasing and nervewracking and very very frustrating. i had to ask in chinese, afterall, they couldnt understand english and most ppl i asked werent university students or they just didnt want to spend time answering my questions. matt came with me and mostly we just stood around picking targets out of the ppl passing by. finally i went up to a group of ppl and they answered my question. it wwas a very simple question: after you graduate, what are the best jobs? after coombining answers with my partner, priscilla, we concluded that the best jobs were governement officals, public affairs type. ah china.

sunday was also ken's bday and we had a very low key dinner with the ppl he liked the most lol. we went to zhongguancun's bellagio again and had dinner. we noticed that all the waitresses who worked there had the exact same boyish short haircut. it was kinda scary how they all looked alike and there was alot of them...we went shopping afterward and discovered the underground shopping mall that linked to a subway stop. everyone bought something, even sean who found an anime store and got more one piece posters lol. i got a dress at h&m. prices there were comparable to the ones in the us.

monday wasnt much. tuesday the koreans in my kouyu class taught me the kroean expressions "teba" and "hrrrr" and "didodi". yes, they actually say those things. bascially, in terms of smilies, "teba" means =D and "hrrr" and "didodi" means -_-. following this principle, they were impressed i could use them in the correct situations. they said that if you knew how to use them, any young korean person you meet will be impressed. teba! lol

at night, sean's uncle took us the mounted guy's store past 17 mile KTV. i got some maobis and maobi stand for my mom, 4 high quality brushes cost me 150RMB. not bad, i think. his store was really small but well stocked with soo many brushes and everything you need for calligraphy and painting. makes sense, right, he did all our mountings, carvings and fan supplies for both our painting and calligraphy classes.

on wed we had our hanyu final. i tried to cram words but in the end, i passed. thursday we had our kouyu final and i also tried to cram words, but in the end, i did better than hanyu, still passing. passing is all i need. i didnt really study and i didnt want to stress so i think i did ok considering. since today, thursday was the last class before we leave, we had to say goodbye to our korean friends. aww..... i never imagined that we would know koreans from this program, i only thought id be making friends who came from the states, but this was a very nice surprise. global friends is always nice =D

wednesday lunch was pretty interesting. we got lunch at the last eating place inside the jiaozi building. a grad student starting eating with us after ken sat down, then we all gathered around ken. i guess this guy didnt know hed soon be surrounded by waiguoren (foreigners) lol. we started up a conversation and surprisingly his english was very good. we asked his about youtube and facebook and he said everyone knows about it but we can only imagine how they look like. it takes a very skilled hacker to access those and he's learning to become one! lol also hes a earth science student and he was asking us about schools in the US, well, since we were bascially repping rutgers and berkeley, we said the west coast and east coast of the US were very different, but he didnt care about the weather, as long as he could have the chance to do research in the US. such different mindset than us americans. he got all of our contact info. that's called taking advantage of the situation. lol also he told us that CHOMSKY was in the area and is going to be giving a lecture here on friday. im flying out friday morning. didodi. i cant believe im missing out on chomsky! when hes in the same city as me! only the most famous linguist (still alive)!

thursday after class, sean's mom's cousin took us out for last minute shopping. we went to a really expensive mall and sean took forever but eventually got 2 dress pants. literally over 2000RMB. >.< i thought that it the place was too expensive so after, she took us to the zhongguancun outlet store!!1 LOVED this place, a whole floor of discounted shoes!! omg!! i couldnt decide what to get! and when i did, they never had my size t.t well, i finally found a pair of low heels that was only US$30 (compared to the dept one we just went to, everything was over 1500RMB, so US$200+) we came back, late to the CLERC graduation dinner. well everyone else was late too. we got our certificate and there were skits and musical performances, taichi performance. the best one hands down was the all guys oone with synchronized sexy dancing to laoshuaidami. it was outrageous, and so entertaining. i got to wear my new shoes hehe. now its night time and im waiting for my mom to call my dorm. im stuck inside while everyone else is getting their last party on in bejing. *sigh* tomoro, the 16 or so ppl going on the traveling portion of the trip will leave, check out 8:30a. we'll be going to a different place everyday but mostly around the yunnan province, also shangri-la and then 2 finals days in china in shanghai before we head home and ill have to face reality and enter the workforce *shudder* goodnight!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

空山不见人

The past week I've been feeling less and less movtivated for class. We're wrapping things up in the remaining elective classes- painting and calligraphy. Alanna left the program a few days ago on wednesday and our group feels so empty without her. The queen bee is gone. =( The saturday trip to the temple of heaven and the pearl market wasn't that exciting. but then again, nothing could beat the great wall, at least in my opinion. let's continue from the last post.

last wednesday we went to pizza hut for dinner. that's right, we missed american food, especially pizza. but it was more than that, the pizza hut here in china is completely different than the ones in the states. the pizza hut was a really nice restaurant. a real sit in, dine in restuarant complete with starters, desserts and cocktails. they still have pizzas but they also have salads, pastas, and even steaks. it was soo delicious, we got different kinds of pizzas and very colorful drinks. i never expected pizza hut to be reinterpreted like this, in such a good way too. the furniture was nice and comfy, there was even a huge dangling chandelier thing on the spiral staircase up to the main floor of the restuarant.

we still had some tokens left from playing at the wudaokou mall arcade and it hadnt closed yet so we played a few games. they were turning down the lights and mopping the floor as we were playing our last games, kicking us out lol. why do we always go right when things are closing?! this happens alot to us. bad planning skills.

thrusday i missed my class for the first time and decided to sleep in. at noon, me and sean went on our own to the dumpling place and it was so weird how there was so few ppl. usually during lunch hour, the place gets packed and the lines are so long, but we got there 10 min before the mad rush and it was so nice to actually be able to find seats to sit at. at painting class, we drew something our teacher recently published- a scholar in robes sitting under a tree reading. he gave us all photocopies of the drawing so you could trace it if you decided not to draw it on your own, no one did that and everyones painting turned out really well. everyone's improving! but then again, everyone only included 8 people. its so sad how in both classes, the number of ppl who come and who come consistantly keeps dwindling.

it was really hot that day. when you go outside, it literally feels like you walked into a sauna. its so hot and stuffy that you cant clearly see 50 feet in front you because of the mist/fog that isnt evaporating. and this is in the middle of the day! we went to sean's grandparents place for dinner but had no appetite. sean was completely soaked from sweat, just walking from our dorm to his grandmother's is a good 15 min walk but sean was pretty sweaty, even me. we changed clothes and his grandmother gave me a really breezy blouse to wear. she served us dragonfruit, which i kept eating cause i didnt want to eat hot food, having no appetite. ive never seen dragonfruit before. it's sorta like kiwi in that theres little black seeds intersperced throughtout but instead of green, dragonfruit is a muddy white. it also has no taste, maybe a little sweet, but just barely. at his grandparents place, we eat dinner and watched primetime dramas. we've been consistantly watching the same 2- one is a cop story, where theres a mafia boss guy, his associates and assassins and the cops want to catch him and all that. everyone is related to each other somehow, i get lost by the story plot. the second to the mafia boss man is an actor that looks oh so much like yuxuan. its kinda scary, except i know im gonna offend yuxuan when i say that this actor has more hair than you. sorry! i should take a pic or something, but really, this guys looks so much like yuxuan, its kinda creepy.

friday after our second big unit test, we took cabs to the amusement park. it was super hot, just like the day before and the biggest ride wasnt even open. so, we went on the second biggest ride lol. most of the ppl in our group, including army matt who came with us (sean's roomate) loves roller coasters so we immediatly go for the biggest, scariest ones which is completely fine with me, but sean cant handle it as well as us. after the second one, the rocking boat kind but is circular and spins as you go across, sean wasnt feeling very good. he got really clammy and even more sweaty and threw up. we couldnt really do much for him since it was an amusement park and theres no place to lie down without having to be outside on the benches in 100 degree weather and 100 humidity. he felt so bad =( i kept fanning him, but he was so dizzy and felt so bad, we left early from the group and matt came with us. on the taxi ride back, sean fell asleep, it was a long way from our campus and matt caught me up on gossip girl lol. i cant believe guys watch this, but i guess matt is different.

sean rested back in his air conditioned room, and at night i went out with the others to houhai. houhai is a hangout place for the locals and its super romantic. really nice fancy restaurants are lined up along the bank of a big lake and its lit up everywhere, theres lots of people and live music is blasting from the clubs intersperced thruout the place. you walk by and someone is trying to get you to go into their club and listen to their music. theres paddle boats on the lake and candlelit tables along the lake. soo nice. theres also vendors selling food, souvenirs and the best one: super strong laser lights. i think we bought 4 of them and played with it the entire night. the lasers are so strong, you can see the line of light all the way up to the sky, the light can go all the way to the other side of the lake, oh man, ive been wanting one of these babies ever since my astro gsi used it to point out stars in the sky, thats how strong they are. i havent found it in the states, at least not for a cheap price, and of course, they sell these dangerous lasers in china, on the street no less lol. the 6 of us; me, cody, alanna, ken, matt and army matt had dinner at one of the fancy restuarants there. it was soo amazing. the presentation was beautiful, iron chep worthy, the food was delicious and everything was overpriced but still a good price for the quality, when you convert into american dollars. we sat at a window seat so you could see the glittery lake right outside. everything was so nice!! great atmosphere, very fancy but still comfy and intimate. we tried alot of things we havent had before like lotus root stuffed with glutinous rice (my favorite), vegetarian bacon hung on a frame with dipping sauce, lightly fried softshell crab. omg im getting hungry all over again. matt even had a glass of wine to go with the meal. lol

has there been any drama in the program yet? not anything huge, i dont think, but within our group, theres a bit of hidden romantically tension. its already out there so i can finally say it now. on the taxi ride back from houhai, we let alanna and cody have a taxi to themselves cause they're sorta a couple. but the thing is, alanna is leaving earlier than all the rest of us cause she has med school. and she doesnt want to be in a relationship when shes starting med school. cody, though, likes her alot and alanna finally gave in. theyre not exactly going out, but they were keeping it, whatever "it" is from everyone else until i said its pretty obvious you guys were together, doesn't matter how you yourselves define it, everyone already knows. anyway so me matt and ken took a cab together and thats when ken spilled that he liked alanna too, ever since the first week of the program, but didnt want to ask her out cause he thought she didnt want to get into anything during this program. and now he cant do anything about it cause cody is with alanna. sort of. so during temple of heaven, ken and alanna sat together on the tour bus and ken hinted to her that he liked her. alanna was all tell me what happened last night on the taxi ride! lol. but its the last few days that alanna will be in beijing so it all comes out the last couple of days. [eta: and now i have to edit that alanna and cody aren't going out and they're definately not a couple. alanna is a single woman. whoever tries to dates her better be worthy enough.]

good dish huh? now for temple of heaven, which i reassure you isnt very interesting. apparently the night before, alot of people got wasted at a club or something so only the good kids showed up to the temple of heaven trip at 8:30 in the morning. all the bad kids were probably hung over in their rooms and didnt bother to get up. tsk tsk tsk. we were the good kids group along with some of the other good kids in the program. i forgot my camera so i had to use my phone camera, which actually gave me ok pictures. it was also super hot that day, it feels so terrible when you have to be outside in weather like that, hot and muggy. first you see the outdoor alter where they do the sacrafices, its this big white circular stone thing with a flat surface open to the elements, god i wish i had brought my umbrella that day. then you see a smaller temple before you get to the big one, you have to walk down a huge wide open walkway space before you get to the temple of heaven. its pretty big i guess, and really good picturesque site. but i talked to the tour guide and he said it was all a recreation cause the real one got burned down and it hasnt acutually been used for ceremonial purposes since the ming dynasty or something and during the qing dynasty it was just a temple for show. but i still saw groups of old women prayin in front of the temple. we exited thru the east gate where you walk thru a really green area, lots of grass and trees and open spaces to play shuttlecock and some kind of taichi ball thing with a paddle. they were trying to sell it to us lol, some of us got pretty good at the ball thing cause this old man took the time to teach us. its sorta like when you play badminton and you catch the birdie in the air with you racket before it drops to the ground, but here you pass it to your partner. let me tell you, it was nothing like badminton.

the next place we visited was the pearl market and that was a huge dissapointment. the pearl market is a place where they sell pearls but it was worst than the silk market. the layout was bascially the same, but there was barely anyone there, it was alot more rundown, the pearls were all fake anyway. only the real ones are up on the top floor and no one was there buying anything. we also saw the green lasers on sale here too lol. only alanna bought some pearl earrings and they were really pretty on her. we all knew it was fake, it was so cheap. sean bought a 128 GB flash that didnt even work when he got back and tried it. it corrupts everything. so yeah, dont buy electronics at places like this, its fake, just like all the wiis, ds, iphone that they are selling there too. i hope he learned his lesson.

for lunch (we were starving) we ate at a porridge place at the restaurants across the street from campus. they had sweet cold porridge(!) it was so hot outside, who actually would eat hot porridge in a season like this? the food was ok, but not really filling and the cold porridge wasnt actually that sweet. also, we couldnt read the menu so we just randomly pointed to pictures lol. sometimes that works, sometimes that doesnt. the rest of the day, i just hung out with sean in his room and listened to music.

sunday we didnt do anything in particular. alanna was going on a tour to the ming tombs but they said it was pretty bad, didnt get to see anything. the rest of the group that didnt go had a free day, and it felt so good to do nothing. i had a steak with eggs lunch, did my laundry, napped for a bit, tried to upload pics.

at night, 10 of us, with steven and mark went to a really nice taiwan restaurant at zhongguancun to eat. it was as expensive as the houhai place but they gave u alot less food here, that was maybe also cause more ppl came with us this time. we ordered too many veggie dishes and we felt like we were only eating greens, not enough meat. but thats cause the meat dishes went quickly cause it was so well seasoned. we went kinda late and while we were having our creme brulee dessert and gandhi ordered another round of this especially good chicken dish, the staff were mopping the floors and putting chairs on the tables, cleaning up on us. even the lights were all turned off except to light our table. we were saying how the chef must have hated us for ordering food the last minute before the restuarant closes. when the amonia smell from the cleaning detergents got too overpowering, we wanted to leave but gandhi, the slowest eater of all of us was still not even halfway enjoying his rice and chicken "dessert". lol. gandhi! eat faster! outside the restuarant was a roller blading area. it was like 11 at night but ppl were still going at it, still lots of ppl up and having a good time. off to the side were couples dancing, waltzing or something, music coming from the loudspeakers. pretty cool. this is where everyone is lol.

on monday, there was barely anyone who was on time for class. i walked into kouyu class and only a few of the koreans where there on time. XD anyone, ppl trickled in as the hour went by. terrible. in calligraphy class, we practiced for our fan project. in the end i didnt do a fan but i still practiced anyway. i practiced one word characters instead of doing a whole poem, since ive already done that for my big final calligraphy project. i practiced characters that meant great wave, silence, undecorated beauty and peaceful. great wave was giving me a hard time. the teacher said i write pretty well but i know i give myself high standards so im always still frustrated.

after class, we went to beijng zoo area to go shopping. but when we got there, there was a huge mass migration wave coming from the direction we wanted to go to. it was really hard to go against the wave of people and we thought it was kinda weird until we found out that all the shops had just closed and that wave of people were just leaving the stores. damnit! what shops close at 5pm! the sun is still up! XD so since we couldnt shop there, we took the subway to xidan instead. we went to the little vendor mall instead of the dept store mall and me and alanna were so happy and excited because finally we found a place that had clothes and jewlery that looks good. we wanted to buy everything we saw, we were like little girls in a candy shop, except big girls in a clothing shop lol. but we had a hard time acutallly buying anything, even tho everything looked so good. in the end, i got some chii keychains, alanna got a pair of earrings, and sean got some one piece posters and phone cover. stuart wandered around on his own. we all met up with matt and ken in the big dept store. on the way over there, alanna and cody were holding hands. it was so cute, the 2 couples (sorta) from our group, it was like a double date and they were so happy together. <3 we all had a sushi dinner which wasnt very filling even though we were starving. it was also pretty expensive, comparable price to sushi in the states, but we didnt trust sushi that much in china but just wanted to try it out. again, the restuarant was closing down on us as we were eating, we were like the last groups to leave. XD on the subway ride back, we gossiped about everyone in CLERC. alanna didnt hold anything back cause she was about to leave china anyway.

tuesday was the last full day alanna was gonna be in beijing with us. =( after class, all 9 or 10 or us along with brian went to a xiaolongbao place right outside campus (a different gate) it was DElICIOUS. if uve ever been to the dumpling place in arcadia, you know what im talking about. it was just as good, if not better at a MUCH better price than you could ever get in the states. xiaolongbaos are dumplings filled with soup so that when you bite in, you get the stuffing as well as a hot mouthful of soup. the way they make it is they stuff the soup cube into the filling so that when it steams, the soup geletin melts within the baozi itself. we had i think 11 baskets of them, and rice bowls that came with soup. omg that was sooo good too. i walked away completely stuffed, it was so delicious me and sean went back with matt and cody the next day lol.

after lunch, we had painting class where we did lotus pads and lotus flowers with a bird. i think we just about used every color of the rainbow for this painting. everyone did very well, even alanna. the teacher put hers up on the board alongside his, good job alanna.

the rest of wednesday, we went to seans grandmothers and left relatively late around 9p since we watched alot of dramas. we took the bus to houhai. do not do that. it is a very bad idea. it took us an hour to get there by bus, we had to transfer once. and then you still have to walk up to the lake. we spent an hour wandering in the hutongs trying to get there and before you knew it, we've almost walked around the whole freaking lake. turns out houhai isnt just a lake, the name of one of the lakes is houhai but the area, also called houhai is actually 3 lakes connected to each other and the most banging part isnt at houhai lake, its actually the lake east of it, called qing lake or something. so yea. now me and sean know the area very well lol. we met up with alanna and them and ate late snack at a fancy restauarant, a different one from the one we ate at last time. brian and annie were with us this time. we went up to the top level of the restuarant cause the bottom part was a club sorta with live music and singing so it was too loud to talk. we tried to order dessert but they werent serving it anymore i guess cause it was so late? but it wasnt THAT late. so i just got a long island iced tea and it was kinda diluted. they got really overpriced ice cream that was served in a paper cup. wow. the restuarant space was pretty nice tho, lots of cool decorations, like the wall behind us was a maya stone thing and there were couches next to the big windows overlooking the lake with curtains and candlelight. everyone was too tired tho, so we just talked for a bit and went back. when we arrived at school, we got meat on a stick served by the roadside vendors that are always there outside our school gate. it was like midnight and they still havent closed shop. i was kinda scared to eat it cause i was afriad ill get diarreha but i was fine and the meat was surprisingly tasty. it was cooked on a grill, made to order. so good.

wednesday, alanna left us. we skipped the last part of class to have one last lunch at yoshinoya's with her. the sky was pouring rain down on us. it was a very wet and very sad day last day with her. the streets were completely flooded, you had to wade water that went up to ur ankles. it was so gross. alanna even lost her flipflog wading thru a particularly deep pond on the way back to campus. all the guards standing by saw and were laughing. so, cody carried her across in his arms. hehe. she drove away in a taxi and cody and matt went with her. alanna hugs very tightly and i was already missing her alot. things from them on were very different without her. we tried to eat dinner together at night, the guys and me, but everyone was so out of it and so tired and miserable, no energy without her. alanna had some sort of magical hyperenergy that we all picked up on, without her, this is how we're normally like.

thursday was last calligraphy class. i got my mounted final project back and the title of this post is the first line from the poem i wrote. ah time to go out for custom made shirts, ill finish later.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

我爬了长城! part 2

我爬了长城! part 2

i got interrupted in my last post. i never even got to the good part- the great wall, peking duck and silk market.

since theres no elective class on friday, we all went to a shopping mall far away called jinyuan centre, its where alanna's kouyu teacher said we could get our cute notebook fix. it took both the subway and the bus to reach there and once inside, the fuwuyuans (store workers) thought we were strange cause rarely do foriegners stray over there. we brough nicci, so thats probaby why. one of them i talked to was so confused lol that we were american since some of us look chinese. chinese heritage, american nationality was a very weird mix for him lol. so we found the cute notebook store and got some cute notebooks and pens and went back home by bus, which took us directly to pku's southwest gate. very convienent, on the way, we bunmped into gandhi's lang partner. this time, our meeting with our lang partner was all about making dumplings. none of us did a very good job and matt's lang partner never showed up so he sat with me and erica's lang partners. after that, we went to KTV yet again and did some street browsing at wudaokou. this time, the KTV was the kind i was used to, like jaguar in oakland, small and no AC, no background singers in the music, weird videos that go with the songs. This is Annie, Alanna and me at the Lion King KTV. it was only 70kuai an hour, no matter how many ppl. very very cheap compared to 100kuai per person per hour at the other place. but then again, the other place, 7mile, included free scotch and a big ass bottle of it too. this place, lion king was apparently rated top 5 in beijing. i liked 17mile alot more lol. There's everyone singing A whole new world at 17 Mile KTV. There's street shopping at wudaokou was really crowded and it was really hot so it made us tired even before we got to the KTV.

saturday we climbed the great wall! on the way over, our bus stopped working in the middle of the highway! the driver would gun the engine but it still wouldnt work. maybe it was overheating or something but thank god it worked again. once there, u had to hike up a steep hill up to all the vendors selling great wall souvenirs before u get to the actual start of the trail up the wall. we were already tired and havent even set foot on the wall yet! some ppl actually hiked up the 40 min trail up to the great wall in 40C weather. insteead me and sean sanely took the gondola thing up the mountain. it was so hot that day, i felt so gross at the end of it, the dirtiest, smelliest, grossest, wettest and tiredest ive ever felt. other than that, it was beautiful and i had a great time.That's me with my korean girls in my kouyu class. the view is pretty amazing. you can see miles and miles of the wall, snaking thru the hills. it was really impressive but word of caution, do not sit on the ground, it is really hot! baked from the sun, oh! i bet u could fry an egg on that! the best part were the watch towers cause it's so much cooler inside and u get relief from the sun blindingly shining down on you. we took the slide down. yup, u can slide down from the great wall to get back down the mountain. except a korean guy in front of the line busted his knee cap and we americans tried to help him, but we only held up the line. we couldnt do anything anyway, poor guy. its hard to get medical attn when ur so far away from civilization and up a hill. these kinds of rides would not exist in the states, liabilty issues heh. so we got to the bottom, it was fun to go fast and sean was on the phone part of the way haha. kids, do not do that, its very dangerous. we had lunch and it felt so good to be in AC. the tour guide, i should mention, was extremely rude, did not even give us any info on the wall and was not nice to anyone at all. i dont know who hired him but he was really umprofessional, very snobby and in your face.

at night, we tried to visit qinghua, the rival university to peking uni across the street. but the guards wouldnt let us in without a pass. so we just went to the pekin duck restaurant near its campus. the restuarant was really fancy, chandeliers on the ceilings and omg cream and purple tablecloth. the duck was delicious. we got 2 for the 8 or 9 of us. the chef would cut the duck right beside your table and one of the waitresses/manager? gave us a demo on how to wrap and eat the duck. the duckskin just melted in your mouth, it was soo good. the best part of the skin, u just dip it in sugar and eat it without wrapping it, that was soooo good. i loved it. the ducks even came with certificates or something which you could look up online and find out where the duck was grown and stuff. pretty legit. the restaurant was closing on us cause we got there at 8ish so we paid and left, it was about 100kuai per person. not bad. the restauarnt is in the so called silicon valley part of beijing cause microsoft and google have gigantic office buildings close by. we saw both on our way back. me and sean stopped by his grandmothers place to get our laundry and took the bus back, almost midnight by then. loooooong day.

sunday, i went out to the zhongguancuan bookstore by myself in the morning to buy the dictionary i wanted last week. on the way back with my new book, i saw blair's lang partner, the one who helped me pick out the dictionary from before. what a coincidence! but i had some bad luck today. i lost my meal card AND i locked myself out of my room twice. i got a new meal card and the money from my old card transferred over, i was relieved. my room card i had to get the hotel staff to let me back in, so embarrasing. im the kind of person who is clumsy and forgets things very easliy so im surprised it took me this long, a month into the program for me to finally lose something. and once i did, on this lucky day, i manage to lose things 3 times. XD

ok so silk road. me and sean met up with alanna, cody, matt, and ken. we took the subway and its very convinent, but it takes a long time cause its very far and you have to transfer subways. there were so many tour buses parked outside the place. the silk market is bascially a 5 story mall with venders lined up selling fake and low quality merchandise. hey, im not complaining, theres a whole floor devoted to bags and shoes. i didnt buy anything, but practiced a big of bargaining. cody got a jade necklace, but thats about it. there were so many foreigners, not just white ppl but lots of arabic families too. we took the taxi back, had to split up the group. on the way back, our car almost got into an accident. we were on the highway and had to brake suddenly cause of traffic. our tires screached so bad and we stopped so close to the car ahead of us. the car behind us stopped real close to us too and next thing you knew, someone didnt have fast enough reflexes and crashed into the car behind us. it wasnt too loud but u knew a car got hit. i almost thought it was ours but we pulled away, safe, a scratch away from an accident and the car behind us had his rear bumper completely totaled from the car behind him. we counted our blessings and drove away unharmed. thats the closest ive ever been to a car accident in my life! omg so scary! poor guy, probably ruined his day and the next few days too.

we had dinner at yoshinoyas which alanna isnt getting tired of, but i am. its expensive compared to our uni's cafeteria food and very manufactured too. at night, ppl were trying to finish hw projects and i was in the shower when the power went out. XD its like my worst fear when suddenly everything is black. the entire building had no electricity and we had to rely on our laptop screens or cell phones for light. most of us didnt think to bring a flashlight. i didnt either, cause i thought, oh its china, they'll have electricity. i am now proven wrong. the front desk said power would be out until 3am and that it was posted in the front door or something. hello, not like we can read chinese. steven on our floor came out with alanna and started hanging out in hallway and we talked by flashlight since they had one. sean came by since he couldnt work on his project anymore and brought out a glowstick. we were playing with it in the hallway when a black guy came out of his room across from my room and started talking with us too. he's from africa and said this situation reminded him of home, the blackouts that happen alot for him. interesting situation, huh? so anything, since i couldnt get anything done, i just went to bed, it was almost midnight anyway.

this week monday, me alanna and matt went back to silk street and i got by chinese bargaining skills on. i bought some clothes and a fake todd bag, and by the end of the night i ran out of money lol. we found out that alanna has terrible bargaining skills and matt had to cover for her instead lol. you have to pick out the good looking stuff from the ugliness. phew bargaining is tiring and you have to be stubborn but still a little flexible and you also have to speak only in chinese or else the americanness gives you away and they'll give you foreigners price. afterward, with matt and alanna carrying my newly bought stash of clothes, we tried to get a peek of the birds nest and water cube at night but they close down at 10 and it was 10:30. so close! wasted time! even cody came out to meet us to see it. but no, fail, missed it by half an hour.

tuesday was an interesting day. our kouyu teacher is such a character. hes always smiling like hes gonna play a joke on you, like everything has a secret funny meaning in it. we notice he lets us out early for break and goes away somewhere with his cell phone and always comes back late. so the girls in the class were very giggly and he wouldnt tell us. then in the middle of class, he got another phone call and took it outside. we confronted him indirectly of our suspicions and this time he was like, this one ill tell u about. the call was actually from his father whom hes never seen in 40 years, since he was 1 and left his mother. so his long lost father calls him out of the blue and now he doesnt know if he should tell his mother that he wants to meet his father or not. omg soo much drama. then we felt really bad cause he is in such a difficult situation, and the cute korean girl said outrightly that we thought it was your girlfriend. our teacher admitted yeah, the phone call before this was my girlfriend! OOOOOoOoOOooo!!! haha and immediatly we started asking about his gf, where did he met her, how long have they been goin out, etc etc. lol. he said, maybe he'll let us see a picture of her in a few days. haha got sooo off topic! i love this class lol

painting class we drew the great wall and the teacher said i didnt have to add color, so me and sean's are black and white painting. good grey shading. sean's painting was so good, ppl were mistaking it for the teachers. natural talent, right there.

the last two eating places we went to were different. last night we went to a restarant on campus that had american food-steaks, sphagethi, and coffee stuff. it was really bad, the only thing that was good was the steak. this afternoon, we had lunch at a hole in the wall place right across from our dorm. ppl dont notice it cause the entire building is covered with vines. it was so creepy when i walked in to the front hallway, not a soul in sight. there was barely anyone there and the food was so american style chinese food, it wasnt bad, but it wasnt as good as the normal cafeteria food. the cafeteria food on campus is actually pretty good, beats crossroads anyway and id say, better than clark kerr cause here, its consistantly delicious, havent messed up anything up so far.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

我爬了长城!

so much has happened since the last post...lets see, more than 10 days ago? man, i suck at blogging periodically. buti have a good excuse: i'm busy having too much fun! :D there's no time to sit down at a comp and write when i could be exploring new places with my friends and having a good time! plus internet is pretty bad here.Oh these are my friends, Alanna, Ken, Stuart and Matt. Only Cody is missing. This was at the summer palace

so last saturday, we went to the summer palace. this is the garden where the old emperors come to relax duirng the summer because its cooler here surrounded by trees and a huge lake. its all a recreation now cause it got looted and burned like 3 times when china opened its doors to white people back in the 1800s. anyway, its still really pretty and relaxing but there were alot of people visiting. the last emperor of china was a puppet emperor controlled by the actual person in power- his mother, the "empress". her living quarters were in the summer palace and we wandered in her courtyard and her VIP euneuch's courtyard. it was so hot and walking around made you really tired. we took a boat to the other side of the lake and took our tour bus back to school.

i sat in the front row of the bus and i got a birds eye view of traffic in china. one word on traffic here: CRAZY. no one follows the lights, or the signs or even the lines on the road. its a complete mess. one minute every car is perfectly aligned in their own lanes and the next minute, u hear honking everywhere and it becomes a huge group of cars in no discerable shape. i dont understand it here. plus u add in the bicyles and the pedestrians, i dont see how more ppl dont get killed in traffic accident here in china. anyway, im so glad, i dont have to deal with the traffic jams. they get really bad in the highways.

saturday night we went clubbing at Vic's. it was the best club ive ever been to. i didnt stay for long but omg the minute you walk in, it feels like its a set from a movie, those kinds of clubs you see that are so badass. it was so awesome and it seemed like the entire CLERC program was there, even the assistant to gui laoshi, fiona. we all got in for free too, cause one of the people from the program lives in china with his wife and he likes to go clubbing with her here. sooo awesome!! lots of ppl got drunk that night and got back really late. the next day lol some ppl didnt even get up until 3pm and they were soo wasted haha.

on sunday, i met up with sean and blair's lang partner to go to the nearby bookstore, zhongguancun. it was HUGE, just like everything else in china. 5 stories and soo many ppl! i got a simon's cat book and looked at the chinese-english dictionaries. after lunch, we headed out to xidan to get some shopping done. this is where all the natives go for the shopping, in the huge malls and expensive labels. again, hella ppl. but thank god for AC inside lol. we didnt find anything, we just walked around, tried on shoes. the boys were with the boys, and me and alanna (with annie sorta) together talking and bonding. theres so few girls in this program! t.t i finally found a watsons inside the mall but i just recently found a closer one, right next to the zhongguancun bookstore. watsons is like CVS, a better version of wumei lol. That pic is Wumei, just for Eileen to reminise lol. Just like her, I go there alot.

so i take my laundry to seans grandmothers. i feel kinda bad cause i get it done for free and everyone else have to think of a way to get their laundry done-either the laundry service, the sketchy laundry machines in the dorm, or by hand. at least i do my undies myself and hang them to dry in my room.

this past week, sean got a little sick, everyone else in the program is getting sick so im a little paranoid and wash my hands or purell myself everytime i get the chance and so far im healthy (so far.) i did ok in the unit test, im going to do less studying cause its not that important, im not doing it for credit like most ppl are for their schools. on monday, bryan was teaching ppl how to salsa in his room, too many guys and not enough girls were interested but our little salsa group got too big for the suite and we moved downstairs to the lobby of our hotel-dorm. it was pretty cool, learned some basics.

oh! sorry! gotta head out, gonna go to silk market! ill finish this later!