The Abbot dropped in to talk philosophy, Buddhist history, and show us a little more taichi. I’ll copy that in later.
Lunch was down the street at our prof’s new favorite restaurant. Ehhhh.
Handball is one of those lesser-known sports, but it’s apparently been around since at least the ’80s. I neglected to pick up the beginner’s guide to handball, but I’ll give you what I know: it’s the off-season alternative for soccer players and they get to hold the ball, which is a little smaller than a volleyball; also, it’s very hands-on. I don’t just mean that they hold the ball; I mean they get to manhandle each other. Around the goal is a semicircle that the offensive team can’t enter; just outside that is the scoring area, so there’s about six feet of space to stand in whence you can score a goal from maybe ten feet away. Pretty much basketball meets soccer meets Red Rover. Also, the whistle was blown at least once every five minutes so that a bruised player could stand up and recover. Really fast, hard, epic game. Fun! Go check it out on YouTube.
We stayed for the two games and then the other kids headed back to the hotel, while I met up with Snowy.
Meet me at the North Gate
Since Snowy’s volunteer job limits her access to the Olympic Green, where she’s stationed, and I had to get my leatherman back from the south gate, Snowy called me and said to meet up at the north gate, nearer the bus stops. I ended up walking the entire way around the venue from the south gate to the west gate, totally missed the north gate in a sea of people. I seriously felt like I was swimming upstream, since the sidewalk along the north edge had a good view of the Bird’s Nest (and the Torch), so everyone was taking pictures of it. Lotsa people selling stickers and pins and flags and all that, too. Crowds aside, we eventually found each other, thanks to cell phones and me being tall and white. (Snowy was in her volunteer outfit, so I couldn’t really spot her in the crowd as easily.)
Did I mention Snowy yet? She’s the girl that approached me and some other Delawareans in the mall a week or two ago and asked us to come back to her indoor decoration store, inside a hotel. I got her number and email address, so we’ve been chatting on email about stuff and figuring out when we could meet up and be, y’know, China-America friends. Since my schedule finally kinda solidified, we figured after handball was a good time to go out and do something.
We caught a bus (which took a while) and rode it (which also took a while) over to Huguosi St (护国寺), so we could pick up a 护国寺小吃，a Huguosi snack. (小池，ｘｉａｏ ｃｈｉ， translates to “little eat”, i.e. snack.) It’s a traditional Beijing thing, so it’s kinda touristy now; the people who actually live near Huguosi (including one of Snowy’s classmates) don’t actually eat at those restaurants. We did the tourist thing and got some food, except we’re still locals — so you share tables with whomever, such as the older couple who was there when we came in and a graduate-school couple who sat down after they left.
The place we went to, which was supposed to be pretty traditional indeed, was on a hutong, a regular old wide alley/road place in the middle of Beijing. For the snacks, there’s a variety of foods served: fried dough rings, fried dough balls with sugar (like a funnel cake, but a puffed doughball instead), some thick fermented rice thing with oil on top (not so sweet), red bean dumplings, candied tofu, … um, a few other things. Good stuff, chewy stuff, I should probably ask Snowy to send me her photo of the menu with English on it. We ordered a little too much, but Snowy said “you don’t have to be polite and eat everything, I’m just a girl.” But that’s why I was being polite! =p Our evening was pretty much talking about life, school, and a lot of English / Chinese language skills.
Around nine, we were about full — so much for dinner — so I had to head out uptown a little to meet up with my prof.