So when I last left off, I had promised a story about the subway and neglected to tell it because I didn’t have pictures. But now, I have pictures of my favorite subway system in the world. The Beijing subway was built specifically for the 2008 Olympics and it shows. It was clearly built to handle a lot of people and be very efficient, easy, and comfortable. It’s air conditioned which is a huge plus, and extremely clean. The ticket machines also work in English (even though I’d like to think I could use it in 汉语). It’s fast, it goes many places, the maps are easy to read… I truly can’t say enough about it. It has greatly helped my experience here in Beijing.
So Tuesday, after I wrote my blog post, I rounded up some troops and we went on an adventure downtown. We decided to ride the subway and get off at a random stop and just explore. We ended up getting off near a shopping district with lots of HUGE department stores. The one that the girls in our group led us to was four floors of only wedding themed stores – bridal gowns, flowers, wedding shower gifts, jewelry, etc. We spent a while there and then moved on to a place that was far more my speed – a book store.
The Beijing Books Building is the largest government owned (look for the subtext – and don’t use the c-word. China has been known to shut down blogs that talk about their government…) book store in the world… cool! And what’s more, it was five floors of ALL CHINESE BOOKS. What could have easily been a touristy place was entirely filled with natives and we stood out like a sore thumb. We headed straight to the children’s section, where books were more our speed.
I was too busy looking for books about dragons, while my friend Tomcat was talking with one of the locals who was studying English. He’s a lot better at Chinese then I am, so their conversation was pretty interesting, but I was much more content to be looking at the children’s books. I ended up buying a couple easier ones so I could practice reading.
That night we ate dinner downtown, came back, and did homework until bedtime. Wednesday morning during class, one of my teachers was teaching us how to use camera words like “flash” and “lens cap.” To do this, she borrowed my camera, and we got some pretty funny results. This is a picture of me (the one you recognize), my friend Tomcat (the red headed one), and Marco (the half-asian).
Wednesday night, our whole group went to the Chaoyang Acrobat Show. It was your typical Cirque du Soleil-esque kind of show, but still really cool. They had 12 tiny tiny girls riding one bike, or two men doing flips blindfolded in giant rotating hamster wheels. It was altogether pretty cool.
The big cultural difference I want to talk about today is the use of chopsticks… my new sworn enemy. The fork and knife are truly superior, but I am having fun learning how to use chopsticks. They eat everything with chopsticks and I have no choice but to comply. And it’s not rice that’s the hardest to grab, it’s the tofu because it crumbles as soon as you squeeze too hard. If you plan on coming to China, you better practice with those chopsticks.
And I’m so sorry about not posting for so long. The internet has been more elusive so today (Saturday) I finally asked someone to fix ours and they did. So here’s for hoping my posts are steady like the smog out of Beijing factories.