Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 19, 2012

Yesterday, our explorations took us first to a snack 地方 and then to an acrobatic show.

We ordered many pastries filled with red bean paste, some of which were even palatable. We also ate peanut sauce drizzled thick noodles with shredded cucumber, funnel-cake-esque donuts holes, zong zi, a holiday rice triangle with cooked jujube fruit inside, and straight up donuts.

After our merienda, we took the subway to the Chaoyang Amazing Acrobatic Show. It was truly amazing. The show began with a nimble woman balancing on first one then eight chairs. She easily contorted her body this way and that as if she had no bones, only very strong and elastic muscles.

The show was filled from start to finish with feats of strength and agility that made my eyeballs shrink back into my skull. Women juggled unfurled umbrellas using only their feet, eight men resembling Chinese leprechauns juggled a plethora of hats, women twirled multiple plates on long metal poles while twisting their bodies back and forth, eight women rode three bicycles creating a pyramid, and eight men rode motorcycles inside one giant metal hamster ball at the same time. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

June 16, 2012

This weekend is my last one with my host family. As a goodbye, we went out to eat at a nice restaurant with the grandparents. We ate eggplant (they know it is one of my favorites), fish swimming in mouth-numbing oil, fried-shrimp, boiled-shrimp, thick green stocks with limp leaves doused in soy sauce, tofu bricks, and an unidentified white food (it could have been vegetable or fruit) drizzled with purple syrup.

As a thank you gift I gave them a wall hanging made by Kif/Mom. They thought it was very 利害 lihai. Happy Birthday shout out to Mom! Hope it was fun and that Isabel’s ice-cream with candles was delicious!

June 15, 2012

 (Zhao Yulong) effortlessly springs into the air, freezes with leg and fist extended in an angular attack as if gravity is a force he chooses to obey on occasion, then silently alights back on the ground.  is our Shaolin Kungfu teacher for the day. During our two-hour lessons he coaches us through stretches, self-defense, jumps, and eventually flying kicks. He was very patient and applauded our often disastrous attempts to imitate his perfectly poised motions.

For lunch we ate authentic Greek food! Feta cheese, yogurt with dill, hummus and pita.

After lunch,we took a bus to the Science and Technology Museum. The bus stop was lined by a thick median strip filled with deep purple lilacs. The Science and Technology Museum was very interesting, filled with interactive exhibits. Abby and I wandered through a warped-mirror labyrinth, played a game akin to quidditch with a Minnie Mouse patterned beach ball and an ancient air shooter, and swung on a pendulum bench. One of my favorite areas was called “The Room for Color.” Inside, blue, green, red, and white lights alternated illuminating a normal living room. Each light greatly changed the hue of every object. Abby’s red shoes flashed from orange to black to deep blue.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

June 14, 2012

Graduation is over and so are regular classes. For the rest of our stay, we will be on an “adjusted schedule” during which we explore the sites of Beijing. Today, we navigated on buses to the Summer Palace. Lush weeping willows, lily pads and silver waters filled the landscape between red pagodas with intricately painted roofs in brilliant blues and greens.  Finger sized koi swarmed through the glistening water.

Earlier this morning I walked into the dorm hallway and saw this:

I speculated on what was going on, and after 10 seconds decided I must still be dreaming and went back in my room.  Five minutes later, upon re-exiting, the toilets were still there, so I re-pondered my previous conclusion: this could not be a dream. I touched a toilet seat, and yes, it was cold, white, and very real plastic, no dreamlike element to be found. Turns out every semester all the toilets are swapped out for new ones. I have no idea why it is necessary to change them so often.

June 12, 2012

Beijng Opera!

Monday, June 11, 2012

June 11, 2012

With the graduation performance looming in the near future (June 12th) and the Gao Kao break behind us, we have one more day of official school, then 7 days of exploring Beijing! We (除了Jazzylin and J-Bert以外 all American students) will create a guide book. During our adventures, I am official photographer, budget manager, and writer for both the 798 Art District and Kungfu lessons.

On Friday I had dinner with Carol Ann and two of her friends at the Colored Dumpling restaurant.

Saturday, Kimberly organized a student + host family event, but my host sister was sick so I went stag. In groups of four (Abby, Sage, Sage’s host sister, and I) we completed a silly scavenger hunt including a pyramid with a stranger, teaching Chinese children how to sing happy birthday, and posing with a bride and groom.

After the scavenger hunt, we rode rollercoasters, my favorite of which was a giant circular pendulum that spun and swung at the same time. I basically flew.

At 7:00, we went to Sage’s hip-hop dance performance then I took the two-hour trip back home. This morning, my host sister had school so we left the house very early, arriving at school before eight. I climbed the six flights of stairs then fell asleep for another two hours.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

June 6, 2012

My friends and I found a hidden ping-pong table tucked between a pink school building and the high fence to the outside, set up next to the domed roof of the dusty observatory. We played several games while eating mangoes. Sometimes, the ping-pong ball would land in the grass near our skinned mango peels and be camouflaged by the identical oranges.

Yesterday, I went to Froggy’s house (a little Japanese girl in the class above me.) She lives in the residential section of the Grand Millennium Hotel.  We went-ice skating at a nearby mall with terribly dull skates, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.  Several private lessons were being taught on the small rink, some with ferocious yelling teachers. Somehow, the students managed to keep a level head and swirl over the ice elegantly while their coach’s harsh screams followed their loops across the rink.

For dinner, we had thin-crusted pizza, shrimp (Abby had a hilariously difficult time de-shelling the shrimp), edamame and chilled cauliflower/broccoli. After dinner, I took the subway then the public bus back to my host family's apartment. I am now confident in my skills in navigating Beijing public transportation, but my host mother is still nervous and constantly calls me to check where I am in my transit back home.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

June 3, 2012

The Chinese government fabricates rain. It uses a technique called cloud seeding in which silver iodide is introduced into existing clouds (or dry ice is used if no clouds are already present) then the water condenses around these super cold chemicals, then it rains! Today there was a monstrous rainstorm, though I think it was naturally created because it was accompanied by thunder, which I don’t think the Chinese government can yet create (but I guess they could use really giant speakers.)

The streets were flooded to above my ankles. Cars driving by raised sheets of water as tall as me.