Published: June 6th 2012June 5th 2012
The clearness after the storm
After rain, the sky becomes clear in BJ. It's nice.
Wednesday, May 30th was another normal morning. I worked with Ya Ma on her French which was fun. Jeff decided to integrate himself into Chinese culture by taking a nap in the nap spot after lunch. It was pretty funny. At 2:30, we were invited to a talk about cultural heritage protection. It was all in Chinese but there were pictures. I also had a girl help me translate some of it – she’s Chinese but she’s doing grad school at Cornell so her English is quite good. Anyways, we thought the presentation would be about 100 minutes (that’s what our supervisor said) but it went on for THREE HOURS. The speaker didn’t even take a break. Afterwards, Jeff said he thinks that’s the norm around here and that he suspects they may have been surprised at how short our presentations were last week. We’re taught to be brief in America but I guess it’s a different culture here!
Anyways, it got really boring and I got kind of restless. I think I would have been restless after 3 hours of sitting even if it was in English but the language barrier just made it more painful. Oh
well, from everyone’s reaction, I gather it was a very interesting presentation.
Wednesday evening I went again to play pick-up Ulitmate Frisbee. It was super fun. I even met a girl from Toronto! Well, Richmond Hill. But anyways. I lasted for the full 2 hours but there were more subs this week so I had longer breaks between plays.
Thursday Jeff brought his own pillow in to work so he’s really taking napping seriously. It’s pretty hilarious. It was raining when I left work and I was unprepared. Hopefully the rain isn’t too acidic! Jeff and I went for dinner at the local mall and we helped eachother with our Chinese. Our goal now is to be able to understand the shows for babies on TV!
Friday morning I went for a morning run in the cool, freshly rained air. And I had way less people staring at me. Maybe I’m starting to fit in…
…or maybe not. When I was walking to work I was waiting at a light right outside my hotel when a man came up to me and got all up my personal space
It's not clouds, it's just haze
And I stupidly brought my umbrella
and said “hello! Are you Chinese?” I said “bu shi” which means no in Chinese. He then asked “mei guo ren?” meaning “American?” I said “Jianadaren”, Canadian. He then got even closer in my personal bubble and tried to kiss my hand. I jerked away and pushed him back with my umbrella. As he backed away he kept saying “I apologize!” Everyone around me had the same look on their face – “what the f- just happened?”
Friday evening, Jeff and I decided to head to a spot which I had been informed was a popular hang-out for young Chinese people: Xidan. It’s just south of us and was an easy subway ride. The whole area is super Westernized but it’s full of Chinese people and not Westerners which is pretty cool. We spent most of our time in Joy City, a famous mall. It has the world’s longest escalator!! It was so cool! And all the floors have hilarious names. Like the 7th
floor which is called “dating” (Jeff and I decided not to eat there, it seemed to be too high-pressure). Instead, we went to the 8th
floor – “delicious.” Seemed like a safe bet.
It’s always fun going places with Jeff because they start speaking Chinese to him, assuming he must understand. “Wo bu zhidao” (I don’t understand) is probably the phrase we use the most haha. Anyways, we had Korean food for dinner. It was yum. We then went hunting for Asian clothing which was a big failure for me. All the fashionable lacy, flowing stuff was SUPER expensive. Plus, the sales clerks were freaking ANNOYING. They kept stalking me. They didn't stalk the Chinese girls. RACISTS!! Just cause I'm white doesn't mean I'm rich. In fact, the sum total of all the clothing I was wearing that day, including shoes and underwear, was less than any one item in any of those stores.
Then the hilarious shirts with Chinglish were like ALL FOR GUYS. Even if they were BRIGHT PINK. The ones for girls looked like they were for 5-year-olds. I want a funny Asian shirt but I don’t want one with a princess wearing a 3D skirt made of separate material. Anyways, Jeff got some real gems, my favourite being a shirt with generic American college town pictures that says “COMMUNITY COLLEGE” on it. LOL.
We then spent far too much time at this absurd store with absurd Asian things in it. I got some hair clips and Jeff got some googly-eyed contact lense cases. We both kinda wanted everything like a purse that was a dress or an Asian-style face mask with lips on it. Hahaha. The best discovery at the mall though was stores that sold matching shirts. See, in China, holding hands isn’t nearly enough to show that you are a couple. You need to have matching shirts. And the guy should be carrying the girl’s bag. And there must be copious amounts of PDA. It’s…hilarious. Anyways, I kinda wanna get a bunch of matching shirts but it seemed like in the stores I could only find the guy’s shirts in bright pink – not the girl’s. Hmmm…
Saturday, we decided to attend the first annual Craft Beer Festival. Humphrey joined us. We got very lost in some kinda sketchy hutongs which, thanks to Humphrey’s ability to read Chinese, we learned served such delicacies as donkey meat. We finally found the festival after much hunting. It was a little shady. And full of kinda awkward ex-pats. And it was
More of Xidan
Emma Watson's face is EVERYWHERE!!!
overpriced. And the beer kinda sucked. BUT IT HAD A BOUNCY CASTLE!! And the bathrooms were by far the shadiest I’ve ever seen – not just squat toilets and dirty walls and floors but there weren’t even proper stalls! You could fully see every other stall! So I made lots of friends in the bathroom haha.
We then headed to Sanlitun and hung out on Humphrey’s balcony which had a cool view of the whole area.
Early Sunday morning, us Canadians awoke to go to another mystery part of town to do what Canadians need to do sometimes – watch hockey. We got slightly lost in the part of town that apparently specializes in dog meat but we eventually found The Irish Volunteer, the only place in Beijing that we could find playing the game. Since it was on at 8pm EST Saturday night, it of course aired Sunday morning at 8AM. When we arrived there was already a crowd there – of mostly Kings fans. Yay! We ordered the Canadian breakfast which was delicious – eggs, bacon, potatoes and toast. YUM! And the game was awesome with the Kings winning in overtime! GO
WORLD'S LONGEST ESCALATOR!!!
It goes from floor 1 all the way to Dating...
We then went to our respective homes for nap time and to avoid the ELECTRICAL STORM which hit the city Sunday. It was pretty crazy, I was reading in my hotel room (PS Pretty Little Liars is frightenly addictive) and suddenly it was SUPER dark outside. I thought to myself ‘how long have I been reading??’ When I checked the time, it was only 2pm. Then it just started downpouring.
Anyways, that evening, Humphrey and I went down to Xidan to see Men in Black 3. Funny movie. Chinese people especially found it hilarious. They also like to talk during movies. I also had my stereotypes confirmed that Chinese people are obsessed wih size. Humphrey informed me that a lady in the elevator said I had a big ass. Also, when I went to try on a shirt, the salesgirl handed me an XL. I gave her a dirty look and grabbed a medium. Which fit perfectly. F$ YOU, CHINA! I'M NOT FAT!! God, LA has less body image issues.
Monday was another normal day of work. I learned the details of my work trip, which I’ll be leaving for
Wednesday – exciting! We’ll be gone 2 whole weeks so there will be lots of stories to tell. Fernanda also returned Monday, so we got to see her again and hear more stories about her trip. It sounds like it was mostly a fun trip but that she was also kept in the dark about most of what was going on – people wouldn’t translate for her, she was just sort of there. There were also a lot of very long business dinners. I’m hopeful my trip will be better, my supervisor is good about translating things and our group is a lot younger than Fernanda’s is.
Monday evening we decided to try our hand at trivia night again. We were…even worse. Like just terrible. We were in last place up until the last round when some jerks did worse than us!! So we STILL didn’t get the prize for worst team! But we were the first team to get free sangria for being worst in a round. Anyways, it was another hilarious, fun time and I think we’ll be back again.
Tuesday was another normal day...not much to report...it was fun having Fernanda
back though I completely forgot about how we used to walk together to work and I was not ready at what was once our "usual" time.
I have had a very raw throat the past couple of days. Perhaps Beijing’s pollution is getting to me. I guess going for outdoor runs in a city which frequently has smog ratings that are off the charts isn’t the best plan. But how else am I supposed to exercise??
Tomorrow (Wednesday) we have the day off from work because of heightened security for some purpose we're not really sure of. We're gonna finally do the quintessential tourist thing and visit the Forbidden City which is gonna be awesome!! Then I have to be at work at 2:30pm because we're leaving for our work trip down to Hai Ning. Exciting times await!!!
There are more photos below