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Published: August 29th 2010
The picture hanging above Clare's bed in our hotel room.
Everything is novel today. Even the simplest things are new and exciting.
The beds are like tables with sheets over them. Breakfast is a strange mishmash of Western and Eastern foods. For instance, fried rice and chocolate breakfast cereal. I find everything amusing, no matter how inconvenient or uncomfortable.
Our small group, missing the majority of PLU students, went to Tian'anmen Square in the late morning. Vendors accosted us, hawking postcards and Chairman Mao watches. Asian tourists wanted to take pictures with us, and if you agree to take a picture with one, more line up behind them. The one thing that struck me about Tian'anmen Square was its size. It is massive.
At lunch we sat at one large round table with a lazy susan. The waiters and waitresses continue to pile food higher and wider until the dishes are hanging off of the edges. This poses as a hazard for drinks, and clothing.
After lunch we went to the Temple of Heaven. It is a beautiful round, red building with blue, peaked roofs. Locals gather in the park to play games, practice martial arts, paint characters on the sidewalk with water... It is a meeting
place as much as a tourist destination.
In the same park is the round, stone piece considered to be the center of Beijing, and the center of the earth. Tourists fight to stand on it and have their picture taken. Surprisingly, there were no casualties.
When we returned to the hotel, two little kids followed one of the students, Ryan, upstairs, and they wanted to have a conversation. They knocked on his door. The boy was very confident, but the girl was shy. She stood in the back and didn't say anything. Their parents were in the lobby smoking and chatting. Chinese parents give their children a lot of freedom. I often see kids with no adult supervision.
Clare and I watched the 18 o'clock news. Love it.
At dinner we sat in a private room and had two attendant 服务员，also known as waiters. The male waiter noticed that Ryan had a phrase book and decided to teach him Chinese out of it, which was really funny. He held up objects and told us their names. He said phrases and had Ryan repeat them. Then he brought us a free dish-- duck soup. It was 很好吃。Very
good. We also had Peking duck, which is served in thin tortillas with plum sauce and cucumber. He made us all duck burritos.
Everything except the humidity was novel. My face was steaming under my glasses.
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