Sunday, July 11, 2010

Beijing Tourist Checklist: (Almost) Complete

This last week has been crazy busy with activity! Which is exactly what I want. lol. I should also say that blogspot doesn't always decide to load the editing window so I can't guarantee a post every few days. Which is why it's been so long since I last posted. Sorry guys! So I went to visit sean's grandparents and also his uncle and gf. His grandparents make such good food omg and his grandmother is quite a painting artist and calligrapher. His uncle has such a nice place too. It's close to Bird's Nest so we can just walk there from his apt but I'm getting ahead of myself. What have I been doing the past couple of days? I've been having class and also yesterday, saturday was a field trip to Tian'an Men Square and the Forbidden Palace which was great. More on that later.

So far every morning, we have breakfast at the roadside baozi place (steamed buns with filling) It's so cheap and fast which is good cause i need more time to cram before class starts. A baozi is 1RMB which is crazy cheap, like $0.15 and you only need 2 to fill you up. Basically I can get all my meals in china for less than a couple of american dollars each day. its hard tho to order cause alot of the menu is in chinese. the good thing is that sometimes, they have pictures so you can just point and say "nei ge" lol. they're so many on campus cafeterias. you can only use your meal card for that and only students have them so you have random ppl who will ask you to use ur card to pay for their meal and they reimburse you with cash on the spot.

after class, we have a calligraphy elective and i really like that class. its not something im good at but it feels good when you finally wrote something that looks good and not just a blob of ink on your paper. its kinda like yoga, the peaceful feeling when you meditate. oh and i also like my taichi class, which starts crazy early at 6:30a each day. everyone's poses are so messed up. people walking by stop and watch us (and are probably laughing silently in their heads), a huge group of foreigners attempt taichi lol. we have a teacher of course but he speaks only in chinese so most ppl dont understand him. he says as long as you show up and dont be late, you will learn it. so far, its good, only gone thru the first 4 poses. we also have painting class, which was really hard. well, at least im not the only one who screws up alot. its so embarrasing, i just want to throw it away. things are out of porportion and the colors are all messed up, the lines are too thick or too thin. then you look up and you see the sample demo one the teacher is painting in front and yours looks nothing like it. but its fun and ur not the only who whose fish looks like giant red balls with flames.

i got a cellphone finally, borrowed it from sean's uncle and its a really nice phone too, he even threw in a 50Yuan phone card for me too.
my kouyu (speaking) class is crazy hard, im always struggling. but its fun cause we do impromtu skits and play games. at the end of each class, someone presents a chengyu(idiomatic expression) and/or a joke so we always end on a good note. ppl from liuban, which is the highest level class say that our class is harder than theirs. which makes me want to switch but i think a challenging class is better for me cause in the end, you'll learn more. but still, lots of hw, mostly from hanyu (writing) class. 15 vocab words quiz daily. XD

for dinner, on thursday we went right outside campus. crossing the street itself is a life threatening experience. cars are soo rude! so are the bicyclists! they dont slow down for you, they just honk very loudly at you and if you don't move, i swear they'll probably run you over, dont even care. if you want to cross the road, its better to go with the pack of ppl and stay on the other side of incoming traffic just in case so if they do hit the crowd, you'll have a human cushion first. at least, that's what i do. its really scary!! and also your ears hurt from all the bikes braking. do ppl not care for their bikes? the brakes sound like nails on chalkboard and you hear so frequently, how can ppl get used to that sound?! so many nails on chalkboard, which probably means every few seconds, someone was almost run over by a bike. so anyway, there's a strip of restaurants across the street. there was KFC, dairy queen, golden phoenix and yoshinoya (sp?) we went to the latter and it was soo good! also milk tea in china sucks. dont even go for the pearls, if you want boba, go to taiwan, trust me.

we met our language partner on friday. except when the time came to go to the meeting place, it was POURING outside. it was raining so hard, that even tho we only had to walk a couple hundred feet away to the next building, ppl were soaked head to toe by the time they got there. it was seriously raining cats and dogs and most ppl didnt have an umbrella. this wasn't rain. it was continuous buckets of water. and it didnt stop for the entire night. the puddles were ankle deep, and the streets became ponds. my language partner was late because of the rain and she was stuck at the subway station because of it. but she did come eventually and she's pretty nice. she calls herself rachael but her chinese name translates to snow white. lol. we are in groups of 2 language partner pairs so im paired with matt, sean's roommate and his langauge partner and mine found out they have mutual friends and went to the same school , even had the same major sorta. we think they make a cute couple lol. hidden agenda, we gotz it.

ok, so yesterday was the highlight of the week. we took a tour bus to tianan men square. our tour guide was really funny. the first thing he said was that his english name is michael. his spanish name is miguel. and this was a chinese man talking in accented english to us. lol. we had a good time walking thru the huge square. it was raining that day too, but not as hard as friday night. it was kinda sad how terrible the weather is now compared to the first couple of days when we just arrived in beijing. before you could enter tian an men, you had to do a security check, xray your bag and all. and then once you get inside and walk past the picture mao's giant head, which they change every year to keep mao fresh, there's so much stuff beyond it. and there was soo many ppl, couldnt believe it. fiona said this was a good day too, wasn't too badly crowded. also it was funny how chinese ppl would come up to the white ppl in our group and ask them to take a picture with them. many chinese who come to tianan men have never seen a white person before so its a curiosity. we had a running score between the nonchinese in our group of how many times they were asked to have their picture taken lol. the forbidden palace was incredible. it just keeps going on and on. that place is humongous. if there's one adjective to describe china, especially the architecure, it would be: BIG. the bigger, longer, and taller it is, the better. i guess you need that much space since theres so many ppl in china. but it wasn't just big, it was also beautiful. hundreds of years of history was made in this place, its hard to fanthom how much drama and how many ppl have spent their entire lives there. even the number of rooms is incredible: 9,999. can you believe it? if you were to be born in a room in the forbidden palace and every night, slept in a different room, you would be more than 27 years old before you were done.

after the forbidden palace, the tour guide took some of us to a hole in the wall baozi and mian (noodle) place. and it was delicious. i havent had diarrhea yet so its all good. we also found a nice bathroom nearby and yeah my first squatting toilet since getting here! it was actually an upscale bathroom, even had luxuries like toilet paper AND hand soap there for you. me and alanna pretty amazed lol. so afterword, i dont know how alanna and them weren't tired after that long walk thru tianan men and forbidden palace but they wanted to go to the nearby park. me and sean called it quits and took a taxi back. let me tell you, a whole day of walking takes alot out of you. not to mention your feet starts hurting too.

we went to his grandmothers place at night and the accupunturist was there so i got to see some accupunture right there in her bedroom. it was pretty frightening, to say the least. sean even got some in his leg. he said it felt like a shot of electricty running down when the accupuncturist twisted the needle in. i dont know if i could do it, i hate needles. afterword, i did laundry and it took forever cause i handwashed it. i tried put a clothesline in my room but the hook failed me and snapped off lol so its still slowly drying in my closet. sad.

today was another long day. since getting here, i havent gotten up past 8am. but i also sleep relatively early. shit i just checked and its midnight now. ok so really fast, his uncle came to pick us up in the morning and took us to his high scale apartment building. he works for the air defense. we watched cartoons and i was so happy haha. there was sheep and rabbits and eggs who could talk. it was adorable. we had some baozi and milk that came in a bag for breakfast. then he took us outside and walked to birds nest and water cube. we took a golf cart tour which went around both buildings. it was sooo smoggy and because of the rain, you couldnt see very far. i havent seen such bad fog like this before and it was in the middle of the day! again, everything was huge. altho, its true, these two buildngs do look better at night. along the way, there were kite vendors and kids running around flying them. so cute. even saw picture of the sheep cartoon on some of them. most had the beijing olympic fujia(mascot) or beijing opera faces. farther down the opposite direction where it was less crowded, ppl were playing badminton and roller blading. so anyway, after, he took us the a really nice resturant and had peking duck! it was delectable. the skin was crispy but if you bite into it, the fat just gushes out, so much flavor, you would be surprised. there was no fat between the skin and the meat either, so thats a sign of a good duck. the way to eat it is to wrap it in a tortilla like wrapper, sorta like the vietnamese spring roll kind and you put in the thick sauce and some veggies like spring onion(?) and cucumber slices. there was also a bunch of other dishes ive never tasted before like duck tongue, feet, liver, ginko nuts, i dont even remember the rest. they were really nice to us, that must have been a really expensive meal...

ok so the rest of the day matt had to buy a new camera so we went to the electronics "city" to get one. omg the salespeople were so aggresive. the minute you walk into the store, they shout at you from either side about their products. if they see you looking at something, theyll talk to you, make you want to buy it. if you point, they'll see it immediatly and come over like lightening to your side. the minute you walk into their shop space, they're all over you. man, its pretty scary if you're not prepared. yeah so i really need to sleep, i have taichi tomro at 6am and i still need to cram my vocab words (like always...) nite!

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