A Travellerspoint blog

A week gone by...

55 °F

This entry will summarize my week from 10/11-10/16 (today).

Monday, 10/11, started the first week of "free audition classes" where we could sit in on the Elective classes for free to try them out.

I was starting to become more and more interested in the Chinese painting class, but goodness knows Watercolor is a fickle mistress. And a bitch. :) But we love her anyway~

I ended up going to the Taiji class. I was hellbent on taking that class since I've been wanting to for so long. We used an edge of the soccer track, so that meant we were outside. I have no idea what we're going to do in the winter months...I need to get an athletic jacket and pants regardless :/

It ended up being really fun and relaxing and I was sold immediately. I also realized how stiff my joints were, haha. Time to get flexible. We only got to the first few forms before time ran out. I really am excited to be taking this class cause goodness knows I need to relax and calm the frick down sometimes.

Tuesday, I think it was, Helen, Cheng Dong and I went to a campus cafeteria to eat dinner. Initially I told her about a cafeteria that sold Cantonese cuisine,but she said not to trust cafeteria Cantonese too much. Or at least don't put too much faith in it. I still want to try to see for myself, but in any country, cafeteria food in cafeteria food. I mean, they jacked up steamed dumplings :/ There weren't any Cantonese restaurants nearby so we went to a canteen a building over. It looked a little too fancy so we decided to go to another canteen. This one was restaurant style with menu and such.

We sat down and ordered...well, they made me pick out the food since they were treating me. I didn't know this at the time :0 I ordered the mai cai...that really yummy vegetable Christa, me and a few others had the chance of tasting in the hole in the wall restaurant in Zhengzhou. It was *really* good, especially since I ordered it with garlic :D I also ordered a spicy dish with strips of pork and cloud ear mushrooms with strips of bamboo. They also ordered two dessert dishes: one was fried milk (really good) and a strawberry crepe type dessert. Both tasted delicious :D

Wednesday was the day we found out that we had TWO presentations to do by Thursday. The 综合 teacher told us to partner up and orally present our usual activities outside of class. The 口语 teacher told us to present individually without notes whether or not we were accustomed to life in Beiing (你习惯北京的生活吗?) I hate speaking in front of class, bleh.

For the first class, we could read off of notes and I just glanced at mine on occasion. We did really well and we managed to make the class and teacher laugh. As I was going over my speech for the second chunk of class, I studied in a way that I wouldn't memorize the information. I approached it in a manner of "If someone off the street asked me this question, how would I answer it?" Obviously not rehearsed and memorized. I only memorized the subject matter of what I wanted to say, e.g. Beijing cuisine, the subway system, weather, etc... The longer the speech, the better the grade.

No one volunteered to go first, so I raised my hand. Haha, I find myself doing that a lot in class. I think it went pretty well.

I noticed I say "um" alot when I'm speaking Chinese, but NEVER say it when I'm speaking English. I need to get that out of my system. I irritates me when people do it excessively in English, so I don't want to be the very trait I dislike when speaking Chinese :0

All in all, I have two tests next Monday. Well, definitely one test, maybe another. The 口语 teacher kept saying "prepare for a possible exam on Monday" and we're like, "...possible? Can we maybe...know now? Definitely?" I don't like the not knowing, you know? This is the first test in both classes so I don't know the format, which means I do neurotic studying. I don't mind having two tests on the same day (tis college life...) but I'd be irked if I had to split my study time into two tests when I could have fueled all of my energy into one.

Did that make any sense? :/

I always prepare for the worst, but I've never had a teacher say "You might have a test on X day. You'll find out whether or not you do on that day." :X

It's not at all that she's an incompetent teacher; she's great, in fact. It's just that when graded items are at hand, I like to be more...ready? :o Ah well, I'm going to disappear into studying for the next day or so.

It was also this day that I went to the lake on campus. It looked nice outside and I wanted to get some extra biking in, so I explored. If I remember, I will include the findings of my journey and pictures in the next entry because right now, I really need to keep studying for my tests :(

Sorry that the last few blogs came so late :/ I shall do better next time.

Posted by CelLung 07:15 Archived in China Comments (0)

After a crazy long wait...

Typed on 10/16

The previous entry had been typed up a day or two ago, but I let it sit in 'draft' form until a few minutes ago, haha. I've been a combination of busy and lazy as of late. I'm so behind, argha.

It was really difficult to wake up early on Friday, but it was the only day of school until the weekend hit, haha. "It's only one day" I kept thinking, but it sucked that our holidays were over until January. We'll see how that long stretch goes.

Class was the same as usual. I kind of dislike this one thing the Kou Yu (口语) teacher does. In that class' book (we have listening 听力,comprehensive 综合, and speaking 口语 divided up into three class portions; i'll explain later) So, in that class we have these three passages in each lesson. Sometimes she'll have us fashion a conversation based on the passage, sometimes we'll just read it, but SOMETIMES we read it, she writes it on the board with missing words/phrases, and each person reads it out loud as they fill in the missing phrases. I know it's good for us, but I HATE it. Actually, I hate doing anything vocal in front of the class. I mean, we can do it from our seats, but I hate being put on the spot :/ I've come to expect it and I hella study each passage so I'm more prepared. If we get stuck she'll help us, but still, ya know?

Anywho, Saturday (10/9) I return to Lotus to get some goods. I park my bike out front, do my business, and return. As I'm unlocking my bike and loading stuff in the basket, I see this guy standing really close and watching me. As soon as I put my bag in the basket, he starts talking to me in Chinese. It appears to be the same guy who wanted me to pay for whatever reason a few days ago. I honestly wasn't in the mood, and I cursed that there wasn't any person around to bail me out.

He kept insisting that I give him three 'chuang' or 'shuang'. Something I honestly couldn't make out. I didn't hear 'yuan, kuai, mao, or fen' but I still knew he was talking about money. I kept saying "I don't understand" and "my hearing is bad" but he kept insisting. Finally, I thought, "I'm not in the freaking mood for this. I'll be out 30 cents, but I don't even know what I'm paying for, damnit." Before I reached for my wallet, I took one last glance at him. He had an arm band (that I honestly hadn't noticed before) with a big P on it, followed by 安 something or other, which probably meant Parking Security.

OH.

He was legit. Well, I felt stupid :/

Still, I didn't like how close he was standing to me, so I kept my wallet in my bag as I got my money out. I was doubly relieved when I saw these to other girls who had parked there bikes there hand him some money.

Here's what I think happened: The first time, when I accidentally knocked the bike over and temporarily parked my bike to pick the other up, he must have just seen me and thought my bike had been parked there the entire time. That's why he stopped me. I'm glad I didn't pay,though, because my bike was there for all of three seconds and I hadn't actually park-parked my bike there. It was a matter of coincidence and mistake, methinks, but now I know. I'm going to park my bike across from the subway station and walk to Lotus. I could use the extra exercise and it's only a few seconds walk.

It was a learning experience. Gotta love those.

This day was also the day Helen's friend came to stay with us for the next two weeks. Cheng Dong is her name, I believe? She's from Zhengzhou, methinks, and she's really nice and super quiet. She's taking some classes here in Tsinghua and needed a place to stay. I had no problem with it (why would I?...). Technically, guests aren't supposed to stay overnight, much less for two weeks, so Helen signed her out on paper but hoped the front desk wouldn't realize our guest was still there.

They often take the back way out, which is where you'd go if you parked your bike in the building. They haven't been caught yet, and I don't think the front desk really cares, haha. No different than dorms in the States, I guess.

Cheng Dong has fairly good English and she speaks very quietly :0 She's nice and polite though :) She stays in Helen's room all day so I want to offer to take her around the city, but I think she'd rather have Helen join us since Cheng Dong's English isn't fluent and I tend to use slang and jokes that only a native speaker of English would understand :/ One day before she leaves, perhaps, we can all venture out together.

I stayed in Sunday, but Helen didn't, haha. She has weekend classes. Chinese language students on the other hand, heh heh....

About a week into this trip I've had this feeling...but that feeling has grown. I'm already at the point where I feel really sad that I'll eventually be returning to the States. It's funny, for at first I was counting down the days for my return and now I'm trying to make every day last as long as possible. Man, I'm going to be in a pissy mood when I come home, haha. Everything is so expensive! I can't ride a bike here without getting steam rolled by a Hummer. I've greatly decreased my chances of meeting Jet Li! ARGHA! Haha. I'm a little envious of the people who are staying here for another semester. I'm loosely considering extending my stay enough for Chinese New Year, but I'd have to renew my visa and find a place to stay for another month. Ah, I may take a trip to San Francisco now that school won't be in the way. I hear the Chinese New Years in the Bay are amazing.

I'm already planning a trip back here with NO SCHOOL WORK. That will be such a nice feeling! I WILL climb Tai'shan one day! Seven hour hike be damned!

Ah, I've already been here over a month. It seems longer and shorter at the same time....I will miss China when I leave, but that time hasn't arrived yet! I will enjoy these moments while they last.

Before I forget, the class thing I was talking about goes like this: (the first chunk is 8-9:40, the second 10-11:40)

Monday: 口语,综合
Tuesday: 听力,综合
Wed: 口语,听力
Thur: 综合,口语
Fri: 口语,听力

Posted by CelLung 06:12 Archived in China Comments (0)

National Holiday: Day 5-7

I'm so horrendously behind on updating :/ My sincerest apologies.

The fifth day of the National Holiday was spent in a combination of two places: The Bookworm and the Sanjia Shopping Center.

But before that...something interesting went down.

I rode my bike through campus out to Chengfu which is where the nearest subway station is. I was walking my bike along the sidewalk because it was too crowded with people and I don't like riding my bike against traffic in the street. SO, my bike accidentally knocks another bike down so I temporarily prop my bike up (kickstand is out), right the other bike, then continue on my way. Whole process took six seconds max. I start walking away and I hear a guy shout something. I glance over my shoulder and I see a a small group of people but they don't gesture to me or anything, so I continue on my way.

All of a sudden it feels like my bike is dragging on something so I turn and see a hand on the back. An older man started talking to me in Chinese (at this point, I honestly didn't know what he was saying) and I kept replying "I don't understand" in Chinese. He says something about "3" over and over, and finally takes out a small bit of paper money and points to it. I'm thinking, "Is he hitting me up for cash because I accidentally knocked a bike down? I picked it back up, thank you." I thought he was inferring that that was his bike and I, a foolish foreigner, could be suckered into giving some cash. I mean, I would have been out like....30 cents had I done it, but still. And for the record, when I picked the fallen bike up, they sucker was heavy. I mean, that was a guy's bike. Like a heavy duty bike. Now, I've seen 70 year old Chinese men with washboard abs, and I didn't doubt that maybe under his shirt was a body that could put a 20-something to shame, but for all intents and purposes, I DID doubt that that was his bike.

It was the first time in my life I feigned "Lost and incapable of understanding foreigner". Finally, a man and woman that was talking near us intervened. The man said something about "she didn't know" and the woman would chime in on occasion with a "nevermind it." Eventually she signaled me to go and I thanked her.

A little unusual....hrm.

Now, on to The Bookworm.

http://www.beijingbookworm.com/

I've never seen so many foreigners gather in one spot in China outside of a study abroad program. It's located in the Chaoyang District, one of the major districts with shopping and all that.

After accidentally going down the wrong street when I initially got off the subway, I eventually found my way to the store. On the way is a lot of hustle and bustle with various cafes, banks, and stores. Not to mention an oddly numerous amount of 外国人, fufu. I happened to notice a multicolored building across from where I was to turn for the bookstore, so I made a mental note to check it out later.
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I arrived at the Bookworm after passing a snazzy looking bar/restaurant. The Bookworm's building is a surprisingly tactful light green. Who knew that existed for a building? A stairway led up to the entrance that was on the second floor. Upon entering, I saw a heft number of foreigners. There was a counter or sorts near the window with several tables where people read, chatted, and used their laptops. There was a mini bar in the far right corner but what really caught my eye were the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves *drool*.

I briefly scanned the shelves in the main room before heading further back. The back room felt kind of....homey, if that makes any sense. There was the cashier's desk with a table in front with new releases as well as a couch/sitting area on the opposite side of the room where some people were eating/chatting.

This room was as open and airy as the main room, but it still gave off a nice feel. It was nicely decorated and furnished as well. I spent most of my time in the Chinese Culture section, I guess you could call it. It basically had almost half of my Amazon Book wishlist, haha. Various biographies about Chinese immigrants and people, books on the cultural revolution, memoirs, Amy Tan books (of course), Chinese history, Chinese religion, fiction and non-fiction alike. I was in heaven.

One of the travel sites I read up on claimed the books here were often cheaper than those on Amazon. I think they were wrong. Either that or I have oddly expensive taste and I happened to pick up all the pricey ones. GRANTED, as I looked around more in different sections, there were both used and new books. The used books, mayhaps, where the cheap ones. Coincidentally, all of my interests lay in the new ones. Not all of the books I picked up had prices on them, but I saw a few that had '120' or '140' scribbled in pencil inside the cover or within the first few pages.

$17-20? Hrm, you make the call. I'm fairly certain there were a hefty number of them I could find cheaper elsewhere.

There was one more room where they had these small round tables set up along with a few couches. It really had a laid back lounge type feel to it. Again, there were floor to ceiling bookshelves (the top two shelves I couldn't even begin to reach, ugh..) but as I scanned this room, I became a little frustrated at the...disorderliness? Is that a word? It doesn't have a squiggly red line under it, so I guess it's legit.

I managed to identify the arrangements were in alphabetical order, but I guess they ran out of room so they started stacking books in front of the already shelved books. I kind of dislike that. I don't like books to be blocking other books :/ Give everyone a chance to shine, you know? I also noticed that a Stephen King book was in just about every section. The 'A' section...'C' section...'M' section. I understand 'B', but not the rest. This made me uneasy (with my slight OCD self...). If King is outside of the 'K' section, what else isn't in the right section that I may have skipped over?

All in all, the room was mainly used/worn books.

I went back to the other room where all the China books were at and saw "Fat China", or as I like to call it, "How China might become the U.S." It's about how China's waistline is getting a little bigger and it delves into statistics (40 % of all statistics are wrong, a-fufuf), food and nutrition found in China....ahhhh, the table of contents looked SO yummy. The nutritionist/biologist in me was giddy with excitement.

http://www.amazon.com/Fat-China-Expanding-Waistlines-Changing/dp/0857289659/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1286805623&sr=8-1-spell

Until I found out it was 240 yuan ($36-ish USD).

The lowest price they have on Amazon is $21 and even with $4.99 international shipping to China (can you believe that? so cheap!) I can still get it for less than what they're offering here.

Oh, how I wanted that book then and there. I'm going to treat myself to it when I get back to the States.

I definitely recommend a visit here if you're ever in Beijing. It's pretty much like your average bookstore in the States where you can sit down and read. I believe there's a 'check out' system like a library, but I don't have all the time and money in the world to keep making trips back there :/ There's also a roof terrace of sorts that I apparently missed (I just spotted it on the site). Looks snazzy.

Oh, they also have an...interesting selection of music. Never thought I'd hear some Motown classics in China. Go fig.

Very nice atmosphere, a chance to talk to other foreigners, you can order stuff to eat (I saw a salmon dish, methinks. Fancy fancy...), read and relax and your leisure. Don't expect every single book under the sun, but there are a few greats there. Almost all of the books are in English. I saw literally one book in Chinese but I was doing a very brief scan in that section.

The area in general has a number of pubs, bars, and restaurants as well. Seeing as how the place is littered with foreigners, I'm assuming these places are more upscale with mayhaps a few imported items on the menu. I don't know enough about bars and pubs to appreciate what I may have seen, so I didn't bother, haha. The outside of the buildings looked cool, for what that's worth. :)

I wanted to take some candid shots of The Bookworm but there were too many people, I felt too awkward to ask, and I would have felt really dumb to be the only foreigner among foreigners to be snapping pics. To be fair, there are pics on the website :/

I left after an hour or so (a very short time for me to be in a bookstore) and headed out. I decided to go to that colorful building even though it reeked of "overpriced goods".

It was.

Adidas, Puma, Mango, etc. All name brand fancy schmancy stuffs.

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I walked to the other side of the area and saw a sex shop blatantly labeled "Sex Shop" in English, haha. Catering to foreigners, I see ;)

Sooo...I walked back through the shopping center to get back to the subway station when I saw a BGM (?) Supermarket. I didn't know if they liberally applied the word to something other than an actual supermarket or if it was legit. Only way to find out was to see for myself. I descended a small flight of stairs into a large, fancy looking basement area. Sure enough it was a food supermarket.

With a whole lot of imported food.

It had kind of a Whole Foods feel to it. The signs, I noticed, where English first, then Chinese.

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I saw more foreigners (mainly of European descent) than Chinese people as well. It was the typical food market plus cosmetics/household wares.

BUT....the greatest thing of all:

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CHEESE! LEGIT CHEESE! Not Kraft singles! CHEESE-CHEESE! Being the garlic whore that I am, I chose this flavor, but they had several more! Agh, I should have taken pictures! They also had bleu cheese! And MONTEREY JACK CHEESE WITH JALAPENOS!!!! Granted the latter was Land O' Lakes, but they had Land O' Lakes in CHINA! The brand I got was from Australia, and it tasted fantastically good, considering I'd been without cheese since I left the States.

This little beauty was 33 Yuan, one of the cheaper cheeses, actually. But hey, if I have to pay import costs for a slice (no pun intended) of heaven, then so be it. I believe I will make a few more trips down there when I get a cheese/Frosted Flakes/Hunts tomato sauce craving. Overall, I really liked the store. I guess it was like America? It had more European brands than American, but hey, Europeans have a better grasp on chocolate in my opinion :P

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The sixth day was spent bumming, haha. Surprise, eh? I actually spent the next two days bumming. That and keeping up with my Chinese. On Thursday I seriously considered going to the Beijing Zoo (although I'm paranoid that Line 4 will be shut down again for reasons I can't read) and was JUST about to get dressed when my Helen comes back :D I knew she would be tired and didn't want to go "Hey....want to go to the zoo with me even though you probably had to get up obscenely early to catch your flight?" And I knew she'd insist that I go without her, but that just didn't feel right for some reason. SO, I stayed and studied, surfed the internet, and thought of a good day to go zoo-tripping.

Posted by CelLung 05:56 Archived in China Tagged of holiday national last days Comments (0)

National Holiday: Day 3 and 4

sunny

10/3

Sunday October 3 was my trip to the China Palaeozoological Hall, or the 'dead animal museum' since the former has too many syllables in one word.

But, before the deliciousness of my prehistoric fauna excursion, the day before my internet cut out. My time had run out as we make monthly payments and I was wondering just when mine was going to be cut. I had hoped the office was open during the holiday and it was, but by the time I got there Saturday evening (like, 2:30pm-ish) no one was there. I stupidly didn't look at the notice that had the times they'd be open. I was in too much of an American mindset where “if it's a holiday, they must be closed.”

It turns out they were open from 7-9pm during the holiday and I eventually paid for unlimited usage for a month.

The backstory to this was needed for at the time on Sunday morning, I had not internet...so I had not address or map apart from my Beijing tourist map the university gave me. I luckily wrote down the address to the dead animal museum and could have SWORN that the National History Museum was across the street from it.

Excited at the prospect of a huge museum with the corpses of organisms long gone, I hopped on the subway station and headed off. I got off at the Bejing Zoo station which is very much conveniently ride outside the gate of the zoo and headed in the direction of what I remembered the museum to be in. I love that station because it's only one stop from the major transfer point at Xidan. A relatively short subway ride is foreign to me, haha.

It was a beautiful sunny day; not too hot or cold. There were lots of people bustling about as well. Across the street was the Beijing planetarium. I'm not too well versed on planets and never had too immediate an interest in them (except for Jupiter...I've always loved Jupiter for some reason) but the building is so pretty that I made a mental note to visit sometime during my trip.

The street that I was on was one of those really wide, busy highways that required underground passages to get to the other side. The irksome thing was that there were so many and I kept confusing some for the subway station. I crossed to the other side and went about searching for a National History museum that I thought was there. Instead, I found the China Palaeozoological Hall. There were even cute statues of dinosaurs outside. I decided to go to this one first and the history museum later.

The admission fee was only 20 yuan and the building looked pretty decent. It looked a world better than the Natural History Museum in Shanghai. I wouldn't bother going back to that one. I sort of regretted doing there in the first place, honestly. I understand being in an old building, but that doesn't mean let everything inside go to crap.

Anyway.

I walked into a large room with a few large dinosaur skeletons, namely one of the sauropods, t-rex, a raptor/stegasaurus dueling it out, and a duckbilled dino. Around them were fossils exhibits and a preserved Coelocanth, I believe? The second story had the rest of the sauropod's head and neck, haha. He was a pretty tall guy. It also housed some crocodilians, ancient rodents, and early dinosaur skeletons/remains.
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The third floor had the mammoth skeleton as the centerpiece along with ancient ungulates (hooved animals) and another dinosaur skeleton or two.
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Realizing that I hadn't spent that long in there, I whipped out my sketchbook and started sketching some of the bones. I started with one of the earlier elephants; the one with the shovel-looking bottom jaw. A few people stopped to look over my shoulder (and a kid or two craned their neck up so I met them halfway and lowered my sketchbook...so cute!). I mentally thought, “I'm so sorry that I'm out of practice...argha...”
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I made another round to all the floors to sketch a few things.

I headed back downstairs thinking I was done, but there were a few more exhibits (much to my happiness). One on human evolution that I could have cared less about and-hey. I'm an evolution girl, but I was honestly there for the animals. Animal-animals, not human animals.

On the other side of the first floor was the exhibit on the big cats. By this time I was kind of tired and my drawings were getting sloppy :/
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I called it a day and decided to go ahead and scout for the history museum so I'd know where to go next time. It couldn't be found. As I later found out, of course, it wasn't on that street. Or in that part of town, haha. I'm glad I can laugh about it.

On the upside, I found a Carrefour! There was this shopping center type building a little ways down from the museum. The sun felt so good that I wanted to walk around a bit more and I found the stores as a result.
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I bought a few goodies from Carrefour (I saw strawberry flavored popcorn..?) and headed back to the subway station.
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I kept missing it because I kept confusing it for the underground passageways. It turned out that I hadn't gone far down enough because there was NO way I was going crazy and an entire subway station disappeared. I spent about fifteen minutes looking for it >:/ I know I could have asked someone because I knew how, but even in the States I'm a “do it myself even if it's the hard way” type of gal.

But all for naught. There was a sign on Line 4...the only line that could take me back home...that was all in Chinese. It said something about 30 分 but it wasn't 分钟 which would have been '30 minutes'. I couldn't really piece together what it said and I searched for any other line that I could transfer to. Unfortunately, Line 4 was the only one that ran through that particular part of town.

Frustrated, I headed back up top to call for a taxi. When I'm tired and slightly irked, I tend to take the easiest, if not slightly expensive way out. It wasn't too expensive, but still. When I want to go home, I want to go HOME and hell to those who get in my way.

I walked a little bit to call for a taxi. When I finally did get one (it didn't take long), we actually had a mini conversation. At least some good came out of it. I could practice my Chinese. He asked me things like “What nationality are you?” and “How long have you been in China?” He asked me another question that I couldn't decipher, so we kind of let it go. After that he asked something akin to “what or where do you study?” I answered Qinghua and he gave it a thumbs up, haha. At one point he asked me “Do you think China has a lot of people?” But I was so zoned out I only heard the “中国” part. I asked him “中国是什么?” What I meant was the English equivalent like when you only hear part of a sentence and you ask “Your sister....what?” That's what I was trying to do. In my idiot stupor I asked “What is 中国?” and Zhongguo means “China”. So here I am, just said I went to the top university in Mainland China, and I seemingly don't know what “China” is in Chinese. I felt so horrendously stupid and embarrassed. Anyway, I answered him and sort of shrank in my seat. Ugh. A lesson learned. Some taxi drivers WANT to make conversation, so be prepared and clarify what I want to say. Gaaa..... :/

I also later realized he could have dropped me off at Xidan Station instead of Wudaokou. I thought about changing my mind but I wasn't in the mood to fight 4 o'clock body traffic on the subway, even if it was just for a little while.

I bike back to campus without a hitch and slink off to the cafeteria to get dinner. I eat a few bites, dump everything else in my plastic container, and slink back to building 19 to get my internet back up and running. At the end of the day, I'm stupid giddy that I got to see my beloved dinos. It really does hurt my heart facsimilie that some people don't believe these big guys ever existed. Mother Nature wields a pretty bad arse hand of creation from what I saw in that museum. She didn't piss around then and she doesn't piss around now :) That's our Mama Nature.

10/4

I won't lie. I wasn't in the mood to leave campus for some reason. I hunkered down and surfed the internet, studied some Chinese, and looked up more places to go :0 The day was beautiful, though. I really do love the Fall and Winter sun :)

Posted by CelLung 01:01 Archived in China Tagged and holiday national 3 4 days Comments (0)

National Holiday: Day 1 and 2

sunny

10/1

First day and the official day of the National Holiday. I briefly considered staying in today with my remnant sniffles, but decided to head out anyway to the first two destinations on my list: the two main bookstores on Wangfujin.

To take the guess work out of it, Wangfujin has its own subway stop. I left the dorm around noonish and biked down to Wudaokou station. Yes, I biked. By myself. Without hitting anybody. Aren't you pleased? I'm getting better with my bike riding skills but it's not like I had to a choice, you know?

The weather forecast foretold rain around 5pm so I made it a point to return before that.

I got to Wudaokou station without a hitch. I took all the right trains and everything. The body heat on a packed subway will only feel good in the winter, I presume.

Anyway, I get to Wangfujin. I forgot how entirely huge that place is. The vast majority of it is a giant pedestrian walkway with stores, restaurants, and little offshoots that no doubt lead to cheap stores where bargaining skills are a must. With the sky supposedly threatening rain soon, I didn't really take the chance to explore. I designated my day for the bookstores and as someone who could literally take half a day in a bookstore, I knew I had to make haste.

I found the first one at 218 Wangfujin. I beelined to the third story where I would be promised Chinese language learning books. It was under the “teaching Chinese to overseas students” section. I found the New Practical Chinese Reader (that book is everwhere...) but most exciting of all was that I found a Chinese grammar book! Goodness knows I need my grammar in order. It was 45 yuan and I wondered if I could find it elsewhere slightly cheaper. Yes, I know 45 is already cheap but my Chinese side was coming out. Go through hell and highwater to make sure you get the cheapest price :P

Next to that section were the imported books; the classics, fantasy/sci fi/history. Some books were crazy pricey, others not so much. The Jungle was only 20 yuan. Harry Potter and Twilight practically have their own mini section :/ That emoticon was more for Twilight than Harry Potter, by the by.

I should have stopped by the music section and the kid's section (that's where the graphic novels translated into Chinese are...fufufu), but the whole place felt pretty pricey. I mean, a building that shiny obviously turning a daily profit with its products. I will return one day to give it a more thorough once over when rain doesn't threaten me.

So... I head off to the Foreign languages bookstore. It's a four story bookstores that isn't as ritzy as the aforementioned one, but it was smaller and more compact, which made for easier searching. I scouted the first flour which consisted of Chinese language learning material and tourism books. This place has many more books in English which is probably why I saw so many foreigners :/ I checked to see if any imported English books were cheaper than I could get them at Borders. They had the 'Guns, Germs, and Steel' book hella overpriced! I was so mad :/ I know it's kind of a big book and there were import costs and...I guess it was a legit price. But still. I'm still lured into a false hope that everything in China is cheaper.

Anyway, I found the same grammar book I was looking at, but found another for 60 yuan, probably because it was published by Beijing Language University. I kept looking back and forth between them and couldn't decide. I did this for about ten minutes. I didn't want to buy both for I thought they were pretty similar, but the orange cover book had exercises in each lesson while the red 60 yuan one didn't. So, I put them both back and explored the rest of the floors. I figured I'd get my mind off of them for a while. The second floor had foreign language books (mostly english) and English learning materials. I was kind of hoping for some kiddie Chinese books, but the vast majority were all in English. There were also more fiction, biographies, history, etc books on the second floor. I didn't know this store would be overtly English :/ I was kind of in shock. I bought a fiction book to distract me from my Chinese studies, fufufu.

The third floor was mostly books in Japanese and imported art books/albums. There were hulkingly huge Miyazaki books (comics I presumed). Hardcover, so expensive. I may buckle and buy one, but at the moment I was just skimming. There were some interesting design and animation books, but kind of pricey.

The fourth floor had the music and DVDs. I was about to buy some Revolutionary music, but I wanted to see how many I could find on the net (I already found a few). I know, I know. I should have gone ahead and bought some. I'll come back to Wangfujin later and swing by. I switched over to traditional instrumental music, namely the Erhu. I kept seeing music for the Matouqin. Those were the priciest CDs and I'm pretty sure there's a reason why. I just don't know it yet. I finally settled on 'tea music'. I bought a 38 yuan CD where each song was named after a different tea :D

I briefly skimmed over the DVD section. I forgot that “foreign films” in China means American films, haha. I was like “How do I know all these titles...ohhhh.” Culture shock indeed.

I went back to the first floor and got the orange 45 yuan grammar book. The exercises were the deciding factor. I need the practice. I skimmed the Chinese culture section and the Tourism section. That's where I found another book I was looking for! Traditional Chinese architecture! I was so excited! It's like, super breakdown of the structures around China. It's actually one of the books the Arch. Majors at Tsinghua use. My interest in specifically Buddhist temples/pagodas, but I'm interested in all the other structures as well.

376 Yuan later (not bad at all...) I made my way back to the subway station. I quickly learned how stupid an idea it is to travel on the subway on the first day of a holiday at 4 o'clock. Jam. Packed. I had to let the train pass by twice because SO many people were already on the train and TOO many people were trying to get on anyway. All it took was once glance and I thought, “What's the point?” By the time the third train came by, I huffed and shoved my way onto the train. I figured all of the trains were going to be like this, I just had to get on the least crowded car.

Man, I hate body heat when it's not cold outside.

I rode Line 1 to Fuxingmen to transfer to Line 4. If I rode to Line 2 it would have been an extra stop an let's face it. That train was PACKED and I knew Line 4 better than 2. I headed out at Xidan and made the LONG, ARDUOUS JOURNEY to Line 4.

Everyone was crammed together as we all moved to Line 4. It's a bit of a walk. It took maybe 15 minutes with such a slow moving crowed headed in the same direction. And what sucked was that everyone had to take the stairs. Don't get me wrong, I'm cool with stairs. The Chinese aren't. It always amazes me to see the area leading to Line 13 where there's this long escalator with a stairwell beside it and the stairs are COMPLETELY empty. Everyone is packed on the escalator. One day I'll have the guts to take a picture of this. I always take the stairs, two at a time, to Line 13. I get to the top maybe a literal minute or two than others.

Backtracking a bit, while I was on Line 4 heading back to Line 13, this older business-looking man stepped on in front of me. He side glanced me once then turned back around. When we came to one of the stops, he turned a bit more in my direction, gave me a once over from head to toe, then gave me a few once overs from chest to toe. His eyes were on my chest a little to long for my comfort :/ It was then that I appreciated American men who at least try to be more subtle. Go figure.

I made it back to Wudaokou and the dorm safely with my beautiful books in tow. I didn't get to my bike parked outside the station until a little after 5pm and it hadn't started raining yet.

In fact, it didn't rain until late at night. Sonuvagun.

After I dropped my books off, I headed back out to the cafeteria. I remembered one cafeteria we went to that was buffet style. I planned on buying a few small meals, dumping it all into my plastic container, and heading back to the dorm to eat like the neurotic recluse that I am. Instead, I end up at the wrong dining hall. The one with the crappy zongzi. I could have sworn that one was the buffet one. For the life of me I then couldn't remember where we went. I know the two dining halls that didn't have it, but I honestly had no clue where it could be.

Infuriated because I planned out exactly what I was going to eat, I headed to another hall. I was scanning the food inside and decided to go ahead and take out my dining card. It wasn't in my wallet or my bag. It was in my jacket BACK AT THE DORM. So, I head to the mini supermarket, get some lame-o insta noodles, and head back to the dorm. I knew once I got back there I wouldn't feel like leaving again, hence the noodles.

I ate it with some spicy tofu I found in the supermarket :/

It was a productive day nonetheless. I'm starting to hate the crowdedness of Beijing subways, but I'll get over it. I haven't been pickpocketed yet at least.

10/2

I kind of bummed the day away. Actually, I switched between reading one of the books I bought and surfing the net for more places to go. Today was SUPPOSED to rain, so I hadn't really planned on going out for the day. It didn't rain until 5-ish and even then it was a super light sprinkle. GUH.

Around 2:30-ish my internet was “out of credit” because we have to pay by the month if we want the net. I paid 50 yuan for 160 hours, and there's NO WAY I already used 160 hours. I don't know if it's because it's a new month or I really somehow did. Regardless, I was suddenly without internet. Kind of sucked because I was due to call my dad to update travels.

Anyway, I left soon after since the office to renew it was next to my building. I sort of thought they would be closed.

And they were.

I'm going to check again tomorrow (10/3) to see if they're open or off for the time being.

I bike down to the Zhaoyulan supermarket and pass by a nearby China Post....THAT HAS WESTERN UNION. OH MY GOSH. WHY DIDN'T I FIGURE THIS OUT SOONER?! It made me so happy! I went into the supermarket and bought some more oatmeal and yogurt. I tried to find some almond milk but to no avail. I'd have to check out Lotus or Carrefour mayhaps.

I calculated my spendings earlier and found that the majority of my money was going towards food, haha. Almost a month's worth of food and snacks and it only cost me about $85. Awesome. I have to make another wire transfer soon. After all, I still have a few more bookstores to go to...fufufufu~

I was tempted to go next door where they have the giant cute stuffed animals but held off. It was hard to do so.

I made my way back to the dorm, dropped off the food, got my plastic container and headed off to the dining hall. I bought a chicken leg that had the seasoning of “meat on a stick”, so a really GOOD tasting seasoning, and a beef noodle soup. Dumped it all in the container and slinked back to the dorm. It sucked to not have the internet for I usually pull up an episode of The Office, Family Guy, or the Daily Show as I eat. For today, I settled for the Garfield movie translated in Chinese, haha. I understood some of it, so that's progress.

Tomorrow I will hopefully get internet back (if the office is open which they probably will be), squeeze some studying in so I don't slip over the break, and head to either the Zoo or the Natural History Museum. Live animals or dead animals first? Hrm...I will make a separate trip to the Aquarium, mayhaps. It depends on how early I leave.

But best of all...
THE GIFT SHOP!

;D

Posted by CelLung 20:12 Archived in China Tagged and museum holiday day national 1 2 Comments (0)

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