Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The air cleared a little today, and we got to see blue sky. That was a relief. The concern about storms and flooding in the city caused out outing to be cancelled yesterday, so I went to the flea market to shop a little.

There are a few things about Beijing that are very unlike the United States. Construction is one of them. Everything, and I mean everything, is under construction. I'm used to there being a lot of road and construction projects at home during the summer, but here it's so much more. There are also anomolies that make you wonder what's going on. For example, while we were walking to the flea market, we noticed that there as a pattern of large holes in the sidewalk for an extensive distance. Upon inspection, we discovered that the holes opened into deep nothingness below the sidewalk. Why are there holes? We just don't know.

Cars are the other issue here. There are simply too many of them. The city is intensely congested, even though access to owning a private vehicle seems to be restricted by a lottery of some sort. Traffic is tight and dangerous.

Most people have heard of China's one child policy, but I have, interestingly, been told that it's not true and that many families have more than one child. I can't account for the discrepancy. I just thought it was interesting.

And then, there's China's ice cream monetary policy. Really. We were told that ice cream is actually monetary policy. Luxury ice cream (like Hagen Das) is under government control, so buying a bona fide ice cream bar costs about $15. I've been buying a local bar, that has some kind of chocolate like confection in the center, with a thin layer of jam and ice cream. It's yummy, and it's only about 50 cents.

I tried to watch the Olympic opening ceremonies, but the station that I thought would have it was only reporting from outside of the arena. The Chinese stations are covering their athletes. They cover a greater variety of sports than the US networks cover. There was a lot of excitement about the first gold medal going to a Chinese woman in the air rifle competition.

After living in a cloud for a week, I decided that I needed to cut my hair off, so I located a salon. Their price schedule was tiered according to the experience level of the person who did the haircut. I tried to buy a medium tiered haircut, but they wouldn't have it. The American had to have the manager. So, I had a shampoo, head massage, and haircut by the top guy in the salon. Now I'm sporting a Chinese hairdo!

I have three weeks of study remaining, and tomorrow is another day of study. More later.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Internet access has become increasingly difficult and is preventing me from updating the blog. For some reason, what used to be 6 hours of internet access is now 15 minutes of access and it's not enough time.

What I can tell you is that being in Beijing is like being inside a cloud. It's a cloud with a taste too; a bit salty like the ocean, except I know there's no ocean. 

We have been working, working, working, and I think everyone is beginning to be exhausted. I'm trying to memorize an essay that I need to know well enough to say out loud tomorrow. Memorization isn't a study technique that any of us have had to use a lot, so it's tough. 

I've decided to leave some of my worn out clothes here in China, and I'm going to refurbish my wardrobe with some new things from Beijing. I think a shopping trip is in order, but I might wait until the cloud thins enough that I can see outside of the building.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012


We went to the Forbidden City yesterday. It was awesome, but some of its spectacular size was drowned out by the never ending hoards of tourists. I took lots of pictures of pretty things. The Hall of Clocks was awesome. They were enormous and elaborate! So much gold. My favorite was a huge water powered one. I think that there are pictures, which I'll try to get up soon. After the Forbidden City, I think everyone crashed from exhaustion. Much to much walking. Coming back we walked past where our bus was parked and just kept walking. 

Friday we went and played badminton at the gym, which was great. I think we are going back next Friday too.

Today, I will be trying to find the silk market. I'm a little nervous that it's an over priced tourist trap, but it's supposed to be cool. If that doesn't work, I will go back to Tiananmen Square. 

Yesterday, after having cloud weather, and by that I mean being in a cloud much thicker than normal fog, it finally rained. That's probably why my sneakers are damp, now that I think of it. 

Okay, I'm off to see if the cafeteria is open yet, bye!


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ah, every time I type something really long it gets deleted! So, shorter this time. 

I just finished taking my midterm and am waiting to present a skit. We finally have it memorized. Today I am going to go play badminton with my language partner and some of my classmates! Yay! 

Tomorrow we are going to the Forbidden City!  Sunday everyone wants to go back to the flea market to shop. I might go find the history museum at Tiananmen Square. I wanted to go to the Ming tombs, but the subway line my map told me to take directly there apparently hasn't been built yet. They only sell 2015 versions of the subway maps! I should go study! 

This marks the halfway point of my stay in Beijing! 


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Hello! Sorry I haven’t posted much recently. I have been very busy and have a persistent cold. Also, most times I try to email the internet fails and I lose everything.

Because of this nasty cold, I had to visit the infirmary. Now I’ve have had the experience of being prescribed traditional Chinese medicine, which tasted awful, by the way. Hopefully, this thing will pass soon so that I will be healthy for testing this week.

On Friday, went to the ruins of the Summer Palace, lots if lotus.
Saturday, we went to the Great Wall! It was fantastic! Check out the photos.
Sunday, a bunch of us took a cab to the National Zoo to see pandas, and there were pandas! We thought we had seen the panda exhibit, then there was another, and another, and another. There were different kinds of them. It was pretty cool to see.
I accompanied a few of my MoHo classmates to McDonalds, where I had pineapple juice. This McDonalds actually offers delivery.
I’ve had a couple of funny cultural experiences. When we went to the museum, I had my water bottle in my bag. The guards made me drink it to prove that it was just water. I’ve had my photo taken by random Chinese people. Every time our group stops for a photo, all of the people nearby step up and take a photo of us too. I’ve also been stopped on the street and asked to pose for photos. I guess photos of American’s are desirable. On the subway once, a man told another man to get out of his seat so that I could sit there. People are very friendly. American logos are everywhere; American flag emblems, NYC hats, NBA t-shirts, and Mickey Mouse on everything.
Living in the dorms is fairly comfortable. We have more amenities than the people in the other BLCU dorms seem to have. One of those amenities is TV. I’ve been watching a cartoon called Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf. I’ve also found a game show that has people from various countries dressed in costume who go into a bullring and challenge a bull. It’s rather violent and quite strange.
I went to the market and managed to haggle in Chinese. The result is that I bought a very nice skirt at a good price.
Off to bed now. Hoping my head clears. I’ll share more when I can.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I have finally found a reasonably priced place whose food is pretty good. The guy who runs it is very loud, but in a good, understandable way. No extra words, "vegetables, don't put meat." 

Everyone seems beat today, maybe it's because it was so hot yesterday when our language partners took us out into Beijing. We went to see the Olympic Stadium yesterday. The Bird's Nest was pretty nice. I liked the courtyard in front. It has a really cool view of all the freaky new buildings that have been built recently in Beijing. The IBM building is weird. I dont know why they built it that way. 

Yesterday was really hot and we walked a lot. Hopefully, since it's supposed to rain a lot, it will just get better. 

Speaking class lasts for an hour and is just that, an hour of speaking. We are having culture class today. We are carving traditional Chinese seals. It should be good. 

On Monday, we painted, which was great because now I know how to draw pandas. Expect to see them on everything!

Tomorrow, I am going to go scout out the zoo. Everyone seems to want to go see the pandas with me, so there are going to be a lot of crazed MoHos at the zoo on Sunday.

Oh, and this weekend we are going to the Great Wall! Yay!


Monday, July 9, 2012

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hi! I am having a break and there is internet, so here's a quick update. I went to the National Museum of China yesterday, and I went with everyone to the 798 Art District on Saturday. The art district was kind of disturbing. Weird statues... More later!


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Two days ago we had our first culture class, mask making. Somehow they thought that an hour would be enough. Three hours later the hoard of MoHo perfectionists finished our masks. They were all very beautiful, but the professors weren’t so happy.

Afterwards, we all went out to what is probably the only pizza buffet in China to celebrate a birthday. None of the regular restaurant goers knew what to think about us loudly singing Happy Birthday. It was pretty good though, my body needed some wheat, I think. 

Yesterday, our language partners took us out into the city. We wanted to go to an old street with only tea shops, but our professor said it was too far. So we went in good Beijing fashion to the mall. Most people went to the flea market though. Maybe next week, I’ll try my hand at bargaining there. Who wants to bet that I fail dismally?
Yesterday, at lunch, I accidentally bought just about the most expensive dish in the cafeteria, spicy hot pot. But looking back it was only about $3.50. A word of caution though, just because it looks like tofu, that doesn’t mean it is tofu. 

We started the new textbook today. My brain is going to explode, but in 20 minutes I am off to calligraphy class!  I should probably get a move on.

Bye! Ve

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunday, July 1, 2012

So this weekend has been very busy. Friday, I learned how the subway worked after acquiring a map of Beijing. I took it to an enormous temple in the center of Beijing, Yonghegong Temple. There was a lot of incense, I took photos, unfortunately I can’t send them.

Saturday, I took the subway to a museum labeled on my map. It was free for students! Only two exhibits were open though, out of seven. The first floor was calligraphy, and the second was a huge exhibit of handmade traditional Chinese toys from the 80s. Lots of two headed tigers :-)

Taking the subway back was just fine, but I exited on the wrong side and ended up physically blocked from the street that I needed in order to walk back to my dorm. I could see it, but I couldn’t get there. I ended up taking a taxi out of frustration. Taxis are very cheap here, so it didn’t matter very much, but I’m still confused about why they didn't build a connection across the bridge.

Saturday night we went as a group to the Beijing Opera. It was a lot funnier than I expected. I will explain more about it another time. On the tables (we had front row table seats, very classy) were tons of Chinese snacks, which were all great. There was also a martial art tea server who did a crazy trick with the tea pot while he poured our tea  :-)

So now it is Sunday and I need to do all of my homework.