So I finally have a chance to update my new blog, but I promise that updates will come much more frequently than this. My internet situation is very interesting, but I will get to that later. P.S. I’m going to use the word situation a lot because the Chinese word for situation (情况 qingkuang (pronounced “ching kwahng”) is really fun to say.
After my last post, I’ve been in Beijing for just about two days now. On the flight over, I fell asleep before takeoff and woke up with only four hours left in my flight. I watched one of my favorite movies, The Thin Red Line (check it out… it’s a really elegiac war movie), and landed. After the world’s smoothest landing, I was talking with my friend about the smooth landing and she mentioned that it was worth the wait. Apparently we had a two hour delay on the runway in San Francisco because the intercom was broken, but I slept through the whole thing.
When we arrived at the Beijing airport, I was immediately impressed by the sheer size of everything. Customs made fun of me for writing on my forms “Beida University”, instead of either just Beida or Beijing University. What I wrote is like the equivalent of saying “Stan Uni University.” But after my customs guy showed all of his co-workers my hilarious form, I went through with out problems.
The first thing that truly struck all of us was the pollution. Visibility is just over a mile even on the nicest days due to the pollution. The sun looks red, there is no blue sky… all of my pictures look like they were taken in a light fog, but it’s just the pollution. We all had a difficult time breathing; we all huffed and puffed our way around the cit. It already has been an eye-opening experience that is constantly reminding me why I’m studying Chinese and why I’m studying my environmental sciences major.
However, we got to our room and our room was pretty standard. It’s something between a hotel room and a dorm room. Instead of unpacking like a responsible 高才生 ( gao cai sheng – or best student/teacher’s pet), I met some of the other exchange students on our floor and went with them out to dinner with my friend (and roommate) Tomcat.
So along with 10 other kids from a different restaurant, we went to a 火锅饭馆儿 (huoguo fanguanr – or hotpot restaurant). Hopefully, I will figure out my camera and load pictures on to the interwebs, but a hotpot restaurant is a really nifty place. If any of you have ever been to a place called The Melting Pot – I know there’s one in Buffalo and I think there’s one in San Mateo? – but it’s pretty similar to that. The whole table orders a bunch of different meats, veggies, tofu, noodles, and what not while each indivdual person orders their own broth. Everyone gets their own broth on their own individual boiler. Once your broth is boiling, you take your (raw) meat and your (uncooked) veggies and put them into the broth to cook. It was really fun, very social and filling, and I had a great first meal in China.
The next day I woke up just in time to make the class trip to the Forbidden City (pictured above) and Tiananmen Square. On the bus, we learned the fun tidbit that there are 21 million people living in Beijing and 4 million of them are not originally from Beijing, so they speak a different dialect of Chinese. The dialect used in Beijing isn’t exactly the prettiest of dialects. They enjoy adding a lot of “r” sounds to the end of words. For example I used fanguanr early to mean restaurant – but anywhere outside of Beijing you would say fanguan.
The Forbidden City was definitely a very touristy location. There were many 白人 (bai ren or white people) and lots of other Asian tourists. However, the Palace itself was very beautiful. For hundreds of years, it was used as the home for the emperors of the last couple of dynasties. It has 9,999.5 rooms since that’s a lucky number, and that size shows. I was beat walking from one side of the Palace to the other. I wish I had my pedometer with me!
The Forbidden City reminded me a lot of the Alhambra in Spain, and was very ornate and beautiful. But Tiananmen Square was a little more surreal. After all of the events in 1989, it seemed very eerie to be at a place where such emotional events aren’t even recognized. If you don’t know what I’m talking about… go wikipedia Tiananmen or retake High School World history. Either way, it was very eerie with the giant picture of Mao Zedong and definitely a place worth seeing.
For the rest of the day, I wandered with my friends and went shopping. Our meals were less exciting, but I have a lot more to report in the coming days, so I’m saving some fun topics for later. But a quick preview involves diarrhea, the subway, and a power outage! 哎呀 Ai Ya!
Hit the comments with any questions! I’ll definitely get back to everyone the best I can.