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May 31, 2006

Leaving Beijing

Currently everyone is in the crazy frenzy of packing and checking out. After two weeks of settling in and figuring out Beijing, we are now heading on to our next adventure in China, Jia Shan. Beijing was a lot of fun, and I’m sure I could spend years exploring the city and never come close to seeing all the cool places tucked away in back alleys and side roads. It’s still interesting to think how Beijing will host the 2008 Olympics, in a city already so crowded.
We had our last three hours of Chinese class today, and while it was a lot of fun learning a new language, three hours can get to be a bit long. If we speak really slowly, and find someone who speaks Chinese and has a lot of patience we may be able to carry on a short conversation, mostly about what we want to eat.
Last night we experienced Peking Opera. It was…… interesting, a bit of an assault to the ears at times, with loud crashing instrumentation, but still interesting. The three acts including, Stabbing a Clam, something about a girl sprinkling flower around the world….. and finally the monkey king. At times we were treated to a large light up sign that “translated? what we were seeing. However, the translation was questionable at best. Still, it was an interesting experience, and we got to see the pretty lights of Tiananmen Square on the ride home.

Our last night at CNU!


For our last night in Beijing we decided to hit the Peking opera! This photo is taken on the steps of our dorm at CNU. Tonight it's the overnight train to Shanghai!


Xi'an was a beautiful place, at least out in the country anyways. I had
a great time there. We visited the Terra cotta's and a muslim temple.
Although the trip was very exhausting and a lot of walking, I still enjoyed
it very much. Along with the trip we also learned bits and pieces of
history about Xi'an here and there. Our tour guide was excellent (she
saved some people who were running late! ^-^) and very helpful. At the end
of our trip, she even sung all of us a song! Isn't that sweet?! haha.. .
Her name was Helen (american name) We(?sp).

The hotel that we stayed in was very beautiful. They had a young lady
playing the piano near the entrance. The melodies she played were so
beautiful that some of us couldn't help but be entranced by the music that
flowed from her fingers. Char even took a picture with her! Even some
little kids dragged their parents to stand near the piano, just to capture
the beauty of the melodies a moment before they went their way.

Our first night in Xi'an, Char and I went exploring. During our
exploration, we found a dancing square. Within the dancing square, people
were dancing to techno music everywhere! Their body movements consisted of
a lot of hip movement--and I mean extreme hip movement!--and a lot of using
the knee and legs to kick up in the air. Their rythm was soo contagious
that Char and I tried to learn their steps. It was funny, interesting, new
and required a lot of energy. Even old ladies and men were moving to the
beat of the fast pace techno music!! We spent about 35 mins hopping around
and enjoying our time before the slow music set back in, then we walked
back to our hotel.

Over all, Xi'an is a very beautiful place. Mountainous and green
everywhere out in the rural areas, the view made me nostalgic and miss my
family and sweety a lot. It was a good expereince. Very enjoyable. And
the best thing was, the sky was finally blue in Xi'an. ^-^

p.s: at the end, our flight got delayed and we ended up staying in the
Asian Hotel for free for a cew hours! haha..i got some pictures of us
waiting on the ground at the airport when we were told our flight was ready
to fly to Beijing at midnight! haha...that was ...funny.. .^-^ and tiring..
By A Thao

Fooding and clubbing in Beijing

After class last Tuesday, Christa, Dan, Alicia, and I went to a local restaurant to try once again to order something to eat. Our picture-pointing order method, combined with a little luck resulted in a pretty good meal. Using the little vocabulary I had, I managed to order bread instead of noodles (she understood ‘mienbao’ instead of ‘miantiao’) but it turned out to be pretty good anyhow, as we got a sort of dessert with sweet bread and icing. We ran out of time and were unable to finish or meals, so Christa and I decided to return for dinner, this time accompanied by Jen, Tara, and Laura. We hoped against all likelihood that there would be a different staff working the evening shift. This of course was not what happened. We had both the same hostess and the same waitress, but we didn’t get any weirder-than-normal stares, so it was okay. I wish the same could have been said for the food. Not so lucky on the second time around. We got some random beef parts mixed in with peppers, along with cold, slimy chicken. The only winning dishes were repeats from lunch, including the rice and the sweet bread.
After dinner, Tara, Christa and I went to a club with some of the other students, accompanied by our guide Norman. All but one of the taxis arrived in a timely manner, but apparently one of them took a wrong turn on what should have been a straight shot, and got lost for 45 minutes. The students somehow managed to choose the same club (out of about a dozen) to go to, and we were all reunited. There weren’t too many locals there for most of the night, and the other Americans, aside from being incredibly rude, didn’t interact with anyone at all, so we pretty much dominated the club for the majority of the night. The music selection was pretty typical American club music, and everyone including myself and even Norman (after much provocation) enjoyed dancing.

May 30, 2006

Shopping in Beijing

Today Cecilia, Crystal, Tara, and I went shopping at the Wangfujing shopping street. I am really starting to like Beijing a lot, I am assuming this is because we are leaving soon and that seems to be how these sorts of things work. I normally hate shopping, but the last few times we have gone have been fun. We didn’t really barter much today, but Tara, Crystal and I walked away with some pretty sweet Rose-Jasmine tea! The store we went to was cool because they let you sample the tea and a bunch of different tea snacks and candy. I really appreciated that because I know almost nothing about tea and what it should look/smell/taste like. Hopefully by the time I leave, I will know a little bit more about tea… Well that’s all for now…

I hope this helps you see...signed sincerely me...

The past 10 or so days we spent here in Beijing was great. Thanks to our great host and hostess (Norman and Catherine), we got to see a lot of cool sights and ate great foods. I experience has drastically changed since arriving here in Beijing. When we first arrived here in Beijing, I really wanted to leave this city because of all the people that I see on the streets and the rudeness of the drivers here. After living and experiencing the things that Beijing has to offer, I have begin to really love this city. I love this city for its uniqueness and...for just "being itself." I have realized that it was the culture here for people to act a certain way or do a certain thing. I have come to Beijing with a closed mind and will leave with a very open mind. It seems a little ironic that the place I really wanted to leave in the beginning will be the place I want to stay longer in. I would love to live longer here and experience/explore it even more. Anyways, being in Beijing has taught me a lot. It would be too much to name all of them here so I will not do that. Before leaving Beijing tomorrow, I would just like to say "Thank you so much" to Catherine and Norman. Thanks for showing us what the "real" Beijing is all about. I hope that in two years I could come back and visit during the summer Olympics. I would really love to see Beijing without the construction cranes and workers and to stay a little bit longer. Once again, Thanks CNU. Zaijian!

P.S. I would also like to say, "Thanks," to Lee Mong, Bao and a dude, who's name I forgot, for allowing me to play tennis with you guys and include me in your conversations. It has made my stay here a whole lot better and smoother. Hopefully when we meet one day, we'll be able to communicate and understand each other better. I hope to talk or hear from you guys soon. You guys are great friends. Zaijian pengyou!

The Peking Opera

We went to the Peking Opera tonight. We watched the "tourist" version which
was about an hour long (the real Peking Opera is about four hours!) It was
very interesting! Bright colors, loud drums, amazing costumes, and of
course-- singing. The female lead actress used to be played by a man. Now,
they are played by women. I watched a film in my Gender in East Asia course
about the lives of male actors in Chinese Opera and how the actor that
played a woman trained extensively. It was great to have actually watched a
Peking Opera after learning about it in class. It was definitely different
and entertaining! On our way back to campus, we drove by Tiananmen and the
Forbidden City. Both sights were lit up with lights and the streets were
busy and full of people as usual. This will be our last night here in
Beijing. We leave tomorrow for Shanghai and Jiashan... Zai jian Beijing!

Post by Crystal Yang

Lost & Found!?

So last week me (Char), Patrick Chester, Two Shacks, Mayla, and Lee were coming back via subway from the Lama Temple and our favorite Beijing restaurant and took a wrong turn when heading back to Capital Norm. On our way I decided I'd run ahead to see if I see anything familiar that might lead towards CNU and while running, my wallet slipped out of a small crack in my short's side pocket, so I ran backwards panicking and frustrated, worrying that I'll never find my wallet, while thinking how much trouble I would get. AMAZINGLY, I had ran back at the right time to find a guy, in his mid 40s, curiously looking through my wallet trying to find my ID. After I saw him digging through it I snatched my wallet and thanked him greatly, feeling extremely relieved. I've learned my lesson for the trip, to keep my pockets closed even tighter than what they were before. ^^ Anywho, Beijing has been great thus far, I'm starting to feel as if it's home, already knowing how to maneuver around the big city, but we're finally leaving Beijing in about a day, who knows, I'll probably come back after the Olympics.


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Some of the Terra Cotta Warriors

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Natalie and I at the Imperial Garden in Xi'an

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Another scene in the Tang Show

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Picture from the Tang Dynasty Dinner Show

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I have to admit that when I got the itinerary with the Tang Dynasty Dumpling and Dinner show I had no idea what to expect! The 20 varieties of dumplings were delicious (who would have guessed there were so many?) and th show was beautiful. Not as high pitched as Peking opera and had explanations in English so we knew what was going on!


So...we're leaving Beijing tomorrow, and boy! It's been a great trip so far! It's kinda sad that we'll be leaving. We actually went out last night, and it was fun! It's nice just relaxing, dancing, and socializing. We also met some new people last night :D Today we're planning to go see a Chinese opera. I've never seen one before, so I think it'll be interesting. I'm planning to go do some shopping because I still need to get gifts for people and hopefully we'll find other things to do. But I'm so tired...not tired but exhausted! But hey! I'm in CHINA. So I gotta have fun :D Well, the day should be full of fun and exciting events. I'm kinda hungry, so I'm going to go eat...Bye :D

May 29, 2006

Raw Food at a Restaurant; the Hot Pot Experience

What do you do when you’re at a restaurant and your meal comes and every single piece of it is raw? Simple, you take several pieces and put them into the small pot of boiling water beside your plate and leave it there for at least 3 minutes. When you’re through with this, you eat it! Thus you have just experienced that “Hot Pot Meal!? This is one the meals we experienced while in Xi’an. Before China, I never would have even thought that such a meal would be served at a restaurant. In the US, it would probably be considered unsanitary, while as here, it’s truly a unique experience. When I heard about the hot pot meal in practice and the experience several UMM students had last year, it made me a little nervous, especially when it would come to determining when my meat was fully cooked, thus coming into the meal I was bound and determined to only have veggies in my hot pot lunch. Now, having experienced this type of meal, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I liked creating my own dipping sauce mixture, trying new combinations of food and the fact that it was hard to eat too much as I was forced to wait at least 3 minutes between the very small servings that I was able to fit into my hot pot. It think that the whole idea is rather unique and I am definitely glad that I was able to have another new culture experience that was good!