July 24th, 2008

birds nest

2008-07-24 - Second day (first full day) in China

Originally published at Andy Does Beijing. You can comment here or there.

An Early Start

The parking lot in front of our hotel Jet lag blows. Although we all went to sleep around 11p-12m, I woke up at 5am; I guess I woke up Rich, too. It’s 6am and it seems nobody slept past 5:30am. All us congregated in the hallway for a while, till we eventually meandered down to the lobby to meet up for breakfast.

They supplied a Western breakfast — not continental, by any means, but there was bread (white bread) and jam (passable) and hard-boiled eggs (pretty straightfoward) and coffee (thin, in a large pot). It was passable, and they tried; we appreciated it! also, we kept asking for hard-boiled eggs, to the point of mooching them from the next table over; one of the girls at my table never’d had ‘em, and she loved it! (I stuck to the bread and jam.) Tomorrow, Sun laoshi has told me there’ll be some typical Chinese breakfast served, which’ll supposedly be about as light as we had. I’m thinking the grocery store will furnish good supplies for elevensies on the road.

Supporting capitalism in China

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<p style="border: 1px solid black; padding: 3px;"><strong>Originally published at <a href="http://www.andysacher.com/beijing/?p=12">Andy Does Beijing</a>. You can comment here or <a href="http://www.andysacher.com/beijing/?p=12#comments">there</a>.</strong></p><h1>An Early Start</h1> <p><span style="float: right; padding: 5px;"><a href="http://andysacher.com/storage/pics/china/journal/07-24-hallway_window_view.jpg"><img style="border: 1px black solid;" alt="The parking lot in front of our hotel" src="http://andysacher.com/storage/pics/china/journal/07-24-hallway_window_view-t.jpg"></a></span> Jet lag blows. Although we all went to sleep around 11p-12m, I woke up at 5am; I guess I woke up Rich, too. It&#8217;s 6am and it seems nobody slept past 5:30am. All us congregated in the hallway for a while, till we eventually meandered down to the lobby to meet up for breakfast.</p> <p>They supplied a Western breakfast &#8212; not continental, by any means, but there was bread (white bread) and jam (passable) and hard-boiled eggs (pretty straightfoward) and coffee (thin, in a large pot). It was passable, and they tried; we appreciated it! also, we kept asking for hard-boiled eggs, to the point of mooching them from the next table over; one of the girls at my table never&#8217;d had &#8216;em, and she loved it! (I stuck to the bread and jam.) Tomorrow, Sun laoshi has told me there&#8217;ll be some typical Chinese breakfast served, which&#8217;ll supposedly be about as light as we had. I&#8217;m thinking the grocery store will furnish good supplies for elevensies on the road.</p> <h1>Supporting capitalism in China</h1> <p><!--<span style="float: left; padding: 5px;"><a<br /> href="http://andysacher.com/storage/pics/china/journal/ "><img<br /> alt="Tiffany Scott, big pimpin'"<br /> src="http://andysacher.com/storage/pics/china/journal/<br /> -t.jpg"></a></span> &#8211;> Our first task of the day: money-changing and shopping. Our professors advised us to bring over $200-500 dollars in cash to exchange. I packed about $250 personal/food plus $100 for souvenirs for mom. A few people were rolling in it. Pretty soon, Tiffanny, our TA, was rolling in it like a Fruit Roll-Up: she walked into that bank holding a wad of over $14,000. That&#8217;s three zeroes, kids.</p> <p><span style="float: right; padding: 5px;"><a href="http://andysacher.com/storage/pics/china/journal/07-24-outside_silk_store.jpg"><img alt="Outside the silk store were three lions; two were stone"<br /> src="http://andysacher.com/storage/pics/china/journal/07-24-outside_silk_store-t.jpg"></a></span><br /> While our illustrious program directors managed the <strike>money-laundering</strike> money exchange, Eric, our tour guide, walked us up through a medium-small silk goods store. They had functional token displays showing the growing stages of the silkworm, the harvesting of silkworms, the looms collecting silk, the different stages of weaving the silk, and finally a few tons of product to sell.<br /> It was an adventure, accompanied by lions (two sculptures out front of the entrance), tigers (embroidered with silk thread onto a white silk backing), and panda bears (as hats and slippers). Lotta lotta silk, man.</p> <p><span style="float: left; padding: 5px;"><a href="http://andysacher.com/storage/pics/china/journal/07-24-silk_store_beds.jpg"><img alt="China sets -- bedroom sets"<br /> src="http://andysacher.com/storage/pics/china/journal/07-24-silk_store_beds-t.jpg"></a></span><br /> After our excursion through three floors of silk and our coffers&#8217; filling, we were driven over to a slightly larger shopping center: four floors above-ground, two below, chock-full of single-wide stores.<br /> Fields of Rolexes, iPods and competitors, Chinese cultural items (including one store that sold Tibetan stuff), clothes, shoes, ties, and an awful lot of desperate clerks calling to you, reaching out for you (and sometimes latching on to wrists and elbows). That was our first stop on the Road to Financial Rouen. I blew an awful lot of money getting useful things, like a card reader for my camera (because<br /> I forgot my USB cable), and a wireless router (to employ once they hook up the ethernet in our room). That wireless router was $5 cheaper than the real-deal D-Link DS-534 router. It was also brand name TP-LINK and almost all of the documentation is in Chinese. By the way, my new phone number in Beijing is +001 (China int&#8217;l code) 135-2077-0638 (China #).</p> <p>Free reign was granted us till 1:30, so we honed our bargaining skills. Mine were sharpened to a shiny dullness, about a 40%. I did feel a little better about my language skills, since that (and a lot of English and calculators to write numbers on) got me through plenty of purchases. The ground floor and above had a lot of English fluency, while the basement floors (electonics, toys) sure didn&#8217;t.</p> <p><span style="float: right; padding: 5px;"><a href="http://andysacher.com/storage/pics/china/journal/07-24-lunch_hall.jpg"><img alt="The banquet hall for lunch" src="http://andysacher.com/storage/pics/china/journal/07-24-lunch_hall-t.jpg"></a></span> Lunch was a few blocks over in a lovely traditional restaurant. We had a variety of foods on a lazy susan! Quite delish.</p> <p><span style="float: left; padding: 5px;"><a href="http://andysacher.com/storage/pics/china/journal/07-24-market_2.jpg"><img alt="Outside the second marketplace" src="http://andysacher.com/storage/pics/china/journal/07-24-market_2-t.jpg"></a></span> After lunch, we migrated to another, larger shopping center. Craaaazy. The clerks are even more aggressive there, though one of my<br /> friends made out like a bandit when she only had 1/3 of the asking price in her wallet. Everybody&#8217;s a businessman. Blah blah, had free for another two hours till 4:30pm, wandered around, bought some stuff (like a seal with my name and a Chinese banner, same deal. That was an excellent bad idea, except for the pants which I had to hit the ATM for. At least I had some moolah to pick up a pair of Oakleys &#8212; pardon me, Okey&#8217;s &#8212; glasses, since I broke my pair this morning.Also, it seems that the track pants where the bottom half unzips off are coming back, to my delight; I took a pair of Abercrombie &#038; Fitch Paratroops, list $80, for $20. (ETA: When I washed out those pants, they bled a lot of color into the drain.) If it&#8217;s a forgery, it looks good enough to me.</p> <p>Back to the hotel to drop off our purchases and rest a moment, then downstairs to dinner in the banquet hall. 很好吃 (hen haochi, delicious)! An assortment of plates kept coming to the table; we coulda used a lazy susan great. At least the Chinese beers weren&#8217;t in short supply, but some were room temperature and they were all light. Ehhh, meh.</p> <p><span style="float: right; padding: 5px;"><a href="http://andysacher.com/storage/pics/china/journal/07-24-banquet_karaoke.jpg"><img alt="Eric MCing the banquet karaoke" src="http://andysacher.com/storage/pics/china/journal/07-24-banquet_karaoke-t.jpg"></a></span> Directly following dinner was a karaoke / social session. Whooooaa. Our tour guide, Eric, was quite vivacious and sang us a coupla boy band songs. A few of us got up and performed: Anthony juggled, since he juggles; Rachael and I sang &#8220;In the Jungle,&#8221; quite off-key; one of the hotel staff sang a cute Chinese karaoke song; and one girl on the tour company staff danced traditional-style, very nice! Crazy, silly, good first-night bonding event.</p>