Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day 8: Silk Market and Peking Duck

No, there is not abundant supplies of's just the name of the street and market. We went there after dinner. I bought some things for the girls in the family and myself, something for Gordie as well, oh and some sunglasses since the guy on the plane broke mine. What really gets the venders is when I say how I can get it waaaaay cheaper in the US since they start us at like 2000 yuan when it's worth like 10...I bought the classes for 48ish yuan, still a little high but better than the 1300 she tried to sell it to me for. Most everyone bought things. Lou some knock off converse, and different girls bought knock off LV and etc bags, I also bought a dress that I paid too much for as well. Overall it was fun though, but shopping isn't necessarily high on my priority list during traveling.

After shopping for maybe 2 hours we went to eat Peking duck at the supposedly best place in Beijing for the PD. It was delicious, I forget the name in English. The private room viewed over the streets and it was pretty. They brought us lots of dishes and a guy cut the duck in front of us. I like duck but I think I prefer chicken and seafood over duck and other red meats. I'm still trying to eat healthy here, even though I fail sometimes.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Day 8: Forbidden City

When entering into the Forbidden City I tried to take a picture and the guard was in the picture so they put a hand in my camera and said no picture...I was confused for a split second until I realized it was them, not the backdrop, that was to not be etched into film. We had to wait for awhile for Lucy to buy tickets for us...some people grew hot and impatient, especially when people would continue to just stare and take pictures of us. There was a very tall black man who was also getting attention from the crowds. We were finally in. Jenny and Tracy came with us.

The architecture is lovely. Gold roofs, only for royalty. (I think). There were parts where you could see the old and new brick pavement. The doors dividing each section of the city are ginormous...maybe 3x my size...
I think it's neat how the little figurines on the roof corners symbolize the importance of the building. The Lion statues are gendered, the one with the paw on the claw is female and the one clawing the world is the male (go figure). Someone snapped at me from our group. The eat, walking and lack of food increases people's grumpiness on top of being with people that aren't necessarily your established friends. But we'll make it through. I still love our group. It took quite awhile to walk through the city. It seemed to never end. And then it did. There was a large Buddhist temple on a hill outside the back of the city. There were many people selling things and food and begging for money. There was a boy who could not walk who had a wooden scooter, a blind man playing an instrument with a child between his legs, women holding children, and men selling nutty fruit bars.

We waited for the bus forever, well not really, but it was longer than some people could tolerate. I find myself dancing when I have nothing to do and so I don't mind waiting...we moved to find the bus again. He picked us up and drove us to the restaurant, which was at the entrance to the Forbidden City! It was delicious, fancy. On the way he got pulled over and was given a ticket, I still do not know why but he had to pay a fine.

I was starving. It was nice to find toilet paper in the bathroom. I get sick of drinking soda and actual just don't drink anything sometimes because it is just empty calories, it is bad for you, and makes me bloated...but the peach juice is nice, even if it's mostly just sugar. I have begun to really appreciate tap water in the US...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Aunt Lorie!

Day 8: Beijing Weekend One

I think I passed out after the hot pot...sadly my blog is17 days behind now...aaaahhghgh!

May 8:
Our Korean neighbors across the hall like to drink often and we woke up this morning to green beer bottles lined outside of their door. It's interesting that you can buy alcohol in the school cafeterias and elsewhere that you wouldn't be able to in most places in the US.

We grabbed a quick bit to eat, some rolls or something. I ate some porridge-type stuff with sugar...

We headed to Beijing around 7:30am. Plan: Tiananmen Square/ Forbidden City; Bargain Shopping; Peking Duck.

It took about 2 hours to get to Beijing and another hour or so to actually drive through the city, park and walk to Tiananmen Square. Lucy (her English name for us tourists who are horrible with Chinese names) is our guide for today and tomorrow.
She is from Beijing.

I love how some of the cities plant roses in the median, yellow and red.

A rock slightly larger than a quarter hit the window of the bus on the way to the city. I think the driver is cool. I like his long hair.

Beijing is the 3rd largest city in China with 17ish million people.

I always wondered how they employ so many people in China, but there are so many little jobs that people can do that in the scheme of things they are big jobs, i.e. sweeping the sidewalks and streets, trimming the medians, and a lot of buildings have been going up rapidly.

I don't think I had ever seen a doubled bus until we came to Beijing. I never knew buses could be this long. Somehow they still are packed full of people a lot of times. The double-decker buses are cool. We have not been on one.

We finally parked and walked to the square...which can hold one million people...seriously...there were heads everywhere, covered in colored baseball caps. At first we only saw red and I thought that it'd be easier to get lost with the colorcoding since everyone had the same color. But then I saw some other yellow and orange...and blue, and us. Sooo many people. We took a bathroom break. Wheeew...stinky. I wished some people could just cover their nose without announcing so loudly how smelly it was. There was a small security scanner in a white tent (which is appearing to be the standard for most tourist attractions). I am glad you can bring bags in and we don't have to worry about not being able to take them in. Most places also allow water bottles, otherwise you may die. Just joking, but seriously. It is gradually growing warmer here (as it is May 24 when I am typing this). We didn't really walk around the square...we circled in a single spot and took pictures and Lucy explained some things to us but our tours keep being interrupted by people trying to sell us stuff or people stopping and standing on our shoulder trying to touch or mostly take pictures while gawking at us. We took a picture outside of the Mao portrait and the guy who was trying to get us to buy the photo he was organizing got irritated when we asked Lucy to take our pictures with our cameras.

We then walked under the road in a tunnel to cross the road without worrying about traffic. It was neat, kind of like when I went to the Inauguration of President Obama.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Night 7: Hot Pot Gets Heated

May 7 evening:

After the class we got back on the bus at 5:13 or 17:13 to head to dinner- a hot pot. It was rush hour...I never knew buses could get so packed. The UofM buses have regulations that do not allow passengers to be in front of a yellow I've seen people squashed to the very front of the bus, faces and bodies plastered to the front and door windows. It also amazes me how people can notice us in the bus from s far away and I can see them staring...and I guess it makes sense that since I can stare at them then they can see us and gawk...but one of my photos of a bunch of highway construction works has a man doing the victory sign and smiling at us...and I took it as we were driving past fairly fast and on the opposite side of the highway...

There are always people sprinkling the streets, and on the highways...walking, riding, weeding, pushing, waiting, jogging, carting, wheeling, vending, planting, constructing, cleaning, fixing, etc. Their tanned skin glistening and peeking out from the bright orange suites. I also never knew that 3 people could fit on a bicycle or motorbike until we came here- two women, two men, woman walking older woman on bike, mom and dad with baby, boy and girl. I am almost used to it by now (May 20th).

There is a lot of building development going on right now from what I can see where we've been.

We showed up at a mall type building, they are usually higher than they are wide. The hot pot was inside. It was fancy. I feel like we are underdressed most times we go out to eat. Larry said before we left Michigan that we would be eating at fancier places due to health concerns, not to show off...but some of the places are so upscale I feel awkward walking in with shorts and flip-flops.

There was a huge wine rack that reached from floor to ceiling when we walked in. Red, black and white were the colors that decorated the restaurant. They sat us in a back corner where the walls were painted black. I had wished we could sit somewhere that was better lit...or by a window like the other rooms. We mostly had our own hot pot instead of a having one in the middle. I think this was the meal that people were most picky about. It got a little demanding for me and a few of us got irritated with the number of requests. There were numerous waitstaff helping us and some of the concerns could have been said quieter and patience was in short supply for my standards. Like I have said, I don't like feeling spoiled everywhere we go and so that's the main thing that gets to me. I like everyone, I really do, I just do not always like how we appear or the loudness/word choices people use. Jenny asked us what we wanted and one item was mushrooms and they were immediately shut down, but then they came in the broth stock...and it was to give it flavor and there were complaints about it and I felt I would have just picked them out or not eaten them because you wouldn't taste them if you don't eat them. Allergies I understand, but there are not many on the team. Gia and I mentioned about wishing everyone would be more openminded because we were both getting upset, and I guess that ticked others off.

Overall, however, the dinner was great and the food was delicious. I liked cooking it, (besides the heat of all the pots in the corner) and I made my first whole shrimp, head and all. Not everyone can do that (but they begin to as the trip progresses- everyone seems to grow each day, it's great. I have found myself observing more this trip...I always am observing and thinking but I am usually the center of attention as well...running, jumping and dancing-sometimes with a song outburst, but it's easy to be more distant observing this trip because of all the colorful personalities, each getting their time in the light).

There was a guy who did a dance with the noodles...he spun and twirled and sprung it in our face...lack of better vivid vocabulary...
The fancy places always have nice bathrooms, some with a Western toilet as well (not a "normal" toilet but a Western toilet...). The hand washing places in most Chinese bathrooms we have been to are in one area where men and women cleanse together, with or without soap, depending on the place. This place had lotion and a few other things as well...