July 26th, 2008

birds nest

Saturday, July 26, 2008 - Class, Market

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

Home on the Prairie

Breakfast was same ol’, same ol’: white bread; jelly; fried dough sticks; bowls of hot coffee, milk, and OJ bug juice.

Shortly following breakfast was our first formal class. Since we were booted from the hotel in the Zhouzhuo University campus, we had to make do with our facilities at the Mingxin hotel: History of Olympics was downstairs in the dining room (餐厅) and Women in Sport was upstairs in the hallway outside our rooms.

We had class. We discussed interesting things. I wrote some of them down in my paper journal. I may or may not come back and reflect upon them in this journal.

Lunch was also same ol’ same ol’. Saturday looks like leftover day around here. Nothing special.

Also, more class after lunch!

Freizeit

We were granted a few hours to ourselves after class today. Most of us took a little walk-see around the neighborhood to see what there was to see; also, Karen wanted potassium: bananas! Our first stop took us to a billiards parlor, by which I mean a couple of Delawareans drinking beer and playing pool on some outside pool tables. They directed us to a fruit stand, where I tried to ask if he had bananas. I pointed at a watermelon and motioned a banana shape: “红色的 (hongsede, yellow-colored).” The proprietor: “ummm..” I noticed he had a computer, so I asked if I could use it real quick. We pulled up Google Image Search and the YellowBridge Chinese/English dictionary, so we got a picture of a banana (”oh, banana!”) and I copied down the Chinese word for it: 香蕉 (xiang1jiao1). He didn’t have any, but he told us to go down the street and around the corner, to the market.
At another produce store, we asked — and won! Karen took pictures of their kids, all cute-like, while I practiced my mad Chinese skills and bought the bananas.

After banana-ing it up, we meandered a little further and found a great open-air market, full of … all the same junk, at each booth.

Karen and my attitudes towards the socioeconomic state of the people in our neighborhood. Our hotel isn’t really in the best neighborhood; it’s not too sketchy, but it’s a developing area. There are a decent number of stores with good-looking signs, but a lot of them are based out of homes. The area is a bit dirty, the trash ends up in big piles here and there on the street or in a large open shack. A moderate amount of people just sit around on the street. There’s no beggars and no hobos, it didn’t look like. Karen leads a very feminine, metropolitan lifestyle: she works a desk job analyzing these kinds of areas from afar. It boggles her a bit to actually walk through it, to be there in the midst of it. For me, it just reminds me of a moderately poor South American town, or the outer parts of a city, but it doesn’t faze me at all. The people look like they’re managing okay, just with a lower quality of life.

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Dinner was the leftovers of the leftovers, except for the fish! They served us an awful lot of random things, and then they served fish tempura. It was the whooooole fish (all five inches of it), except
for the guts. As the staff brought out the plates of fish, the room fell quiet. Then, Mary-ann picked up a fish and bit off the head. Whoa, man, whoa. A few other people tried it out, or Christina and
Abby just picked apart the fish to get the meat off the bones, instead of eating the whole darn thing. It was bony!

Bruce Lee, eat your heart out

Master Sun led us in a wushu training/demo session. Specifically, 功夫 (gong fu, or kung fu in Cantonese). Forty-five students, centered around Sun 老师. It was a real good time; Rachael and I both enjoyed the martial arts experience, since both of us used to take classes (four or six years ago). There was a variety of skill levels and innate ability and form, interesting to observe. We learned two stances (horse and bow i.e. front) and some hand movements: punches, upward blocks, front kick; and one short form. I was a bit morose at how little I remembered and how my form and technique had suffered over the years; also, my stretchiness.

When it came time to move around more, we migrated to the courtyard in front of our hotel. We attracted a crowd, all right: hotel staff, locals, random passers-by. Must be something to see, to watch forty-five Americans trying to grasp basic wushu. We weren’t too bad, either.

After wushu, everyone migrated back upstairs to socialize. Some people played Mafia (a politics game), some played cards. I sat in the hallway with people and chatted, wrote up this journal. It’s like being back in freshman year, sitting around in the hallway getting to know each other. Good Times, Good Times.

Nonetheless: sweeeeeet.