Sunday, January 27, 2013

Most fun part two!

Hmm this was Wednesday- as our afternoon cultural activity we went to the Chinese Capital Museum- This photo does a rather poor job of capturing how huge the museum is- it was taken while riding up a very long escalator. (Note: the word for elevator and escalator is apparently the same in Chinese(电梯= electric lift), and I've never realized how weird the English words are until I tried to explain them) I went around the pillar area exhibt a couple times, because there are multiple layers in it, but limited ways to get back to the normal exhibition area. Additionally, the escalators there only went up, some floors were inaccessible by stair, and the elevator appeared to be broken. But it was pretty neat to see some of the pottery etc, though sadly calligraphy and painting exhibits were both closed, and most of the artifacts were from the Qing dynasty (not old by Chinese standard, but old by American ones).

Pollution had returned!

Oh this is from morning run- you may note the absence of the camel building, which I now know is XiZhiMen.

We went out for Hot Pot! Yumm so many vegetables! 

And they heard I liked garlic, so here we have 2 pickled cloves, of which I was goaded into eating about 1. 

Alright, this is out of order, but I'm too lazy to fix it right now. This is funny because it is exceedingly obvious that the translation is not complete- there is no way so many Chinese characters condensed to one English sentence.. 

And the next day, no pollution!

Thursday! So after a brief directional mishap, I met 高琳 at her school, we had our usual cheap and delicious dinner, then we were off to her performance at a Chinese New Year celebration. We had almost front row seats! Look at all those fruits and what nots. People passed around the plates so everyone could try some.

Ahhh pictures why did you load in such a strange order? Anyways, this is my new favorite bread based food item. It has red bean and walnut paste in the middle. Indescribably hearty and good. 

Back to the performance! It was super packed, you may be able to see all the people standing in the back.

OK, so interspersed among the musical etc performances were these games, which were pretty funny to watch. The hosts asked for 8 girl and 8 guy volunteers, then had them pair up, all without anyone knowing what they were doing. Then the guy put on a blindfold, carried the girl, and he had to pop balloons tied to a chair while in this predicament, then pick up a pingpong ball. 

Another really funny game- 1/2 teachers, 1/2 students, they both put balloons around their ankles, separated into two teams, then havoc ensued as they tried to pop the other teams balloons while preserving theirs.

And the best part! 高琳and fellow dancer performed a traditional dance. Very graceful. After they finished we made a discrete exit so I could study for my Friday morning oral exam!

Oh my gosh how am I not done catching up yet... I'll post this weekends happenings tomorrow, got to do some homework now! Hope this find you all well!

Might be the most fun I've ever had

OK, so I haven't posted in awhile, so I have to play catch up now. From the title you may correctly presume that I have been having a blast, so this may take two posts or more, I have a lot of pictures :)

You may remember that I was planning an epic journey to visit Mimee's family last Sunday. Not actually hard- just one subway line switch and a lot of watching other people on the subway. It was a success! Of course it snowed, but that meant the air was actually quite good. Mimee's dad wasn't around, but here's a picture of me with them, feeling like a tree.

After chatting for awhile, and a super delicious lunch, we went window shopping, a new experience for me. 

There were lots of rice cookers! Upon our return to their apartment, I was gifted with a thermos, as my brief interest in thermoses while shopping had been noted, and they apparently had one they hadn't used. I have since discovered that this thermos has a seemingly magical ability to keep beverages warm. Six hours later I still managed to scald my mouth.

I got quizzed on my ability to recognize characters, and lets say I was quickly outpaced by an 12(11?) year old. Notice the complicated looking ones which are especially in focus in the photo above :) 

And I saw Mimee's baby photos!! So cute!

After a delicious homemade meal (so sumptious!) and playing Dominos with the cousins, I got sent home with some delicious vegetables and a feeling of being very welcome. Some of the kindest people I've met.

So good!!! 

And then back to the grind of school! Broken up by a trip to a bakery where I got this delicious and adorable bun!

Subway at rush hour. I must say I am a subway pro at this point.
 If I encounter a subway in the states, should be a piece of cake.

And below we have a photo of another of my new favorite things to eat- Blackcurrant flavored yogurt(?) ! Not quite like the yougurt we have in the states, you squeeze it out of this bag or use a straw. There is a mysterious air pocket on the right side, whose use I have yet to determine (any guesses?)

What is this you ask? I too am not 100% sure.

More delicious cheap food photos!!

And then the not so delicious. Though I was tentatively fine with sampling this apparent Beijing staple dish, my roommate said we would put it off for another day, so I have yet to see if it is actually the worlds most disgusting food... 

Errr I'm putting up part two now, so this post doesn't get too long.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Great Wall Trip

The morning dawned, I packed enough supplies for three people, including an emergency kit, and we met at the front gate. Our RAs thought we had all arrived, but after riding on the bus for ~4 minutes, they got a call from a student running towards where the bus was supposed to be. Without mercy, we continued. Sitting behind me on the bus, two students were speaking rather stilted Chinese (not saying 觉得 correctly) but my classmate and I paid no heed to them and reviewed characters for a while, before falling asleep. At last we reached our destination, the MuTianYu section of the great wall!

If you look closely, you may be able to see a tower..

And now lots of scenery pictures! Better than food ones(?).

I'm on the wall!

It is long.

And very high up.

Lots of stairs! I came from somewhere further down on the wall.

Since my goal for the trip was seeing the wall and hearing silence, I struck out on my own. I over heard lots of German conversations- apparently there are a lot of German businessmen in Beijing right now? I inched down some steep stairs on my butt, (had been fine going up them)- reminded me of Pre-O! Ate my PB&J on a quiet tower while reading and drinking my hot tea. (it was a pretty cold day, but alright when you were moving) Upon our return, I ventured to the subway to get some dinner and tea, and now I must study! Tomorrow I set off on an adventure to meet Mimee's mom- wish me luck ;)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Air-pocalypse is over!

Whew sorry it's been so long! A lot has happened-

The air quality improved! No more not being able to see buildings!
 These are from my first smog free run!

If you look closely, you can the hump building in the distance.
It probably has a name, but I call it the camel building.

As a cultural activity we learned how to stuff dumplings in different ways, then we were judged on the beauty of our dumplings. We then boiled them, but unfortunately mixed up the veggie and meat ones, so eating them required a bit of cautionary excavation.
Dumpling making! We won the most beautiful dumpling prize! 
Filling for our dumplings!

Yummy street food! I'm such a rebel, it was spicy and cheap and good. Also featured, some delicious dragon fruit- which I was going to peel (bc that's how my host family had eaten it) but my roommate gave me the most incredulous look when I announced it- she recommended cutting it in half and scooping it out. Which in retrospect makes a lot of sense, as that's what I do with kiwis, and these really resemble kiwis. 

We made sandwiches!  As close to BLTs as we could do in China, and we made a lot of smoke but didn't burn anything. 高琳 says it was good, I hope it actually was, I had PB&J, which she said was not enough for me to eat, so she wanted to make me my favorite dish, eggs and tomatoes. I, of course, agreed to eat it if she made it. So we got out our eggs...

Only to discover they had frozen! 怎么办? 

Place them in hot water? It worked enough to make some delicious food!

Yum. Plus other classmates had made rice, and they insisted I eat some, because there was no way I was full yet. So we had an American-Chinese dinner! I love Chinese people and their encouragement of me eating food. 

Below is more street food, also delicious. Yum.

My super cheap cup with chrysanthemum tea! A regular afternoon event. Relish the sight of this Chinese beverage, those of you still in America :) 

We went to the national library! It's the biggest library in Asia (?), and I now have a "readers card"! There are a lot of people sleeping in this library. Sorta like American libraries.

Ahhh I love this. 

Free drinking water! The cups are made of paper. 

In front of 高琳's college! We blocked the first and most important character, of course.

There is no hot water in her dorm (so for showers they have to walk to another building) so students like to keep their hot water outside after they pick it up, so they don't have to haul it up stairs to their room, then back down, and then up to class). Usually there are alot more than this, but it's almost break so there aren't many students around.

At a more typical cafeteria (I've been to 2/6 now!) 

And let the endearing food items begin!

Apple Cider Vinegar drink, in different flavors!

Oreos in different flavors!

That's how I like my goats milk.

I like my flavor crispy crispy

Off to the cake shop/高琳's University's district, which has lots of other universities, and thus lots of students and delicious and cheap food items.

Cake shop! All for me. 

Well, not quite, there were three of us! Elsa, 高琳,me

Mine is blackcurrant cake! So good.

We ate on the top floor of the cake shop, which was built for short people like us. Zach and Frank would have been crippled by this ceiling height.

This is Korean, but still has some good almost English. In case you can't see, "Date & Fate, bring us fate n make us date" 

Also with story panels! 

Tomorrow we venture to the great wall! Should be an adventure, I've been told to wear as many layers as possible by my roommate, she also gave me a heating pouch. I'll let you all know how it goes.