Published: June 11th 2010June 11th 2010
So, it’s been another week since my last blog. I really need to do this more frequent!
Last Friday evening, Arsene and I went to Renmin University’s “English Corner.” Our understanding was this was a designated area on campus where students would congregate and speak English every Friday evening. This was only part of the story. Nothing is small in a country with 1.4 billion people, so the square where the event takes place was packed with people. Arsene and I walked around a bit to observe what was going on and then stood in one spot for about 30 seconds. That is when people began to come up to us and ask us if we spoke English. In less than 2 minutes, Arsene and I were standing back-to-back, each talking to half of a 30+ person circle. People seemed more interested in listening to us speak English than actually have dialogue. They wanted to know about us and the States. Topics ranged from my views on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to what are the differences between Americans and Chinese. And the people on the square were not just students from Renmin. There were students from
other universities in Beijing and even working people not in school. An assistant in a company and a kindergarten teacher were two of the many people I met. It was truly an awesome experience, and one that I will experience again tonight before the World Cup starts!
Saturday was our last tourist field trip and probably the coolest one we have had: a visit to the Great Wall of China at Simatai. There were two ways to get to the top of the wall where we were: walk or take a chair lift. A few of us broke from the larger group and took our sweet time taking the rough way up. (Some groups hauled butt up the wall.) The trek was making me remember the road marches I took at Ft. Knox, without the gear on my back and without the smooth feel of a road. Simatai is one of the few tourist places along the wall that has not been renovated. All of the wall at Simatai is original, and some of it is missing from the years of weathering. It was definitely rugged, but a great workout. Some of the steps were no longer than 6
inches, so it got tricky at times. I usually stayed as the last person in our group in case I needed to catch someone if they fell back. (I eventually realized if someone did fall back, they would tumble a long way down and it would be a lost cause of trying to catch them! Fortunately, we never had any problems.) The views along the wall were really awesome and the pics I took can’t do it complete justice. It was impressive of the people that were making the hike up the wall. Kids no taller than my kneecap were hustling up there with no problems. (I think someone has a pic with me and one of these kids.) There was a couple that was nearly 70 years-old that walked with us most of trek, pointing things out along the way and hoping we would buy something from them at the end of our journey. Clearly, they walked up and down that wall a few times in their lives! While we did not buy anything from them, we did give them some money. We took a relaxing cable-car ride down.
Saturday night, we went out to a club called
Babyface near the embassies. It was the first time I experienced clubbing here in China. There were a decent amount of foreigners, but it looked like most of the people there were Chinese. Other than seeing Chinese people dancing and drinking, which was not something I expected to see before I came here, the club was nothing spectacular. A good time, though the people I went with were lame and called it quits by 2:30am. (Babyface is a late club- 5am or so- and it had no sign of slowing down anytime soon.)
Sunday evening, I randomly met two girls from Hong Kong. I chatted with them for nearly two hours. They spoke good English and were bags of fun. They were both old enough to compare HK of today and the HK of English rule. It was fascinating to hear their thoughts about the change and China as a whole. One in particular was very opinionated about life here in “Mainland” China and everything else! It was another example of why I love the people here and would not mind coming back here for a few years.
I’ll update you all about the rest of the week later
this weekend. I decided not to go to Xi’an and will spend the 3-day weekend here in Beijing. Some people are going to Xi’an and going horse/camel riding in Inner Mongolia. While it sounded fun, I thought I would take a breather this weekend and do some cultural things here in Beijing. I have a couple of temples to visit and want to see a Kung-Fu/acrobatics performance. Also, I figure I’ll check out Xi’an and Inner Mongolia when I work over here!
I’m off to play b-ball, shower, English Corner, beers with friends and watch the World Cup at 10pm local time. I’m calling it now: US draws with the Motherland (England) 1-1 and La Furia Roja (Spain) wins it all!
There are more photos below