The Second Weekend
19.06.2008 - 22.06.2008 28 °C
The Thursday of my second week at CET I went to a Korean barbecue restaurant with some friends, and my friend Will gave me some of his photos. (More of his photos are at www.flickr.com/bellumdeus.)
Korean BBQ restaurant
Delicious sweet potato pancakes
Barbecuing at the Korean BBQ
Dog meat. Jeff liked it. Too gamy for me. Yes, I ate dog meat, and I’m willing to defend my decision if need be.
The next day, Friday, my roommate Yao Yao and I organized a large party at KTV (Karaoke Television). I took these pictures from Facebook since I have none of my own.
Rachel and I
Rachel, Sydney, Me, and Mindy
Pretty much sums up the night.
Singing. It was very, very hot in that little room.
That Saturday I took the photos of my dorm and local area which are in the previous two posts.
After taking those photos some friends and I headed to Lotus Lane. Lotus Lane is the name of a pedestrian walkway lined with restaurants, bars, clubs, and kitschy tourist shops. The street loops around Hou Hai Lake in northern Beijing. Ever since its construction in 2003, Lotus Lane has brought hours of overpriced relaxation to foreigners and Chinese alike.
Three of my friends – Stephen, Will, and Jacob in the back.
Tired of driving? No problem. Pull over - take a nap, do a crossword. Although I don’t think it’s visible at this resolution, there’s a man in this car reading the paper. I find this everywhere in Beijing.
Makes sense for a city that has “Don’t Drive When Tired” signs posted on the highway. I caught a glimpse of one on my way to ACC (my next semester program) this past Thursday. Under the text was a drawing of a man asleep at the wheel.
We often catch cabs on Xizhimenwai Dajie.
The first glimpse of Hou Hai Lake.
The entrance to Lotus Lane. And Starbucks.
Behind Lotus Lane is a hutong. A hutong (pronounced hoo-tong, like futon) is a narrow street or alley with traditional style housing. This one is hiding just behind two bars, but most hutong have been replaced by urbanization. The hutong is one of my most favorite parts of Beijing.
This dog did not move from this position and expression for several minutes. A lot of Beijingers have small dogs as pets. They’re often on leashes, and their owners sometimes clean up their poop.
A bridge at Hou Hai.
Jacob’s blonde dreads are unusual enough in America. In China he attracts crowds.
Hutong Pizza restaurant in Hou Hai. Picture courtesy of Will – he’s got superior skills. His one request is that I put this here: www.flickr.com/bellumdeus.
Hou Hai Lake. I danced the night away at that building last Tuesday night in celebration of a friend’s birthday.
Nothing like sitting on a couch, looking at a lake, sipping a caipirinha.
And laughing. Stephen, Will, and Victoria.
The next morning we went to Grandma’s Kitchen. Grandma makes excellent French toast.
Mindy and Matt
Victoria, Stephen, and Sophia. They’re sisters, not twins.
After Grandma’s Kitchen, we went to the Silk Street Market, described by Wikipedia as a shopping center “that accommodates over 1,700 retail vendors, notorious among international tourists for their wide selection of counterfeit designer brand apparels.”
This second weekend is the weekend of the eye pimple. I blame the chemicals in the water, not my lack of personal hygiene. I noticed the sty forming between my eyelashes Friday morning before my test, and by the time I left Hou Hai Saturday night I had a full-blown white head blocking my vision. Fortunately it burst while I slept Saturday night and completely healed by Monday. Two others have also gotten eye sties. One girl even went to the hospital for hers.
The second weekend was also the height of my loathing for the Mandarin language. At one point I heard a small boy screaming to his friend in the park and became overwhelmed with jealousy. That twerp was born here, totally unfair. I had nightmares where I could not understand anything anyone said to me. Now it is different. About the third week something in my brain clicked, and it’s been much easier since.
Am I having fun here? I’ve never had so much fun. Before coming here, I didn’t realize life could even be this consistently fun. The city is packed with good food, cheap shopping districts, fascinating historical sites, beautiful parks, and interesting insights into Chinese culture. All of the other students participating in CET are friendly and funny. I get along so well with so many people that the only struggle is choosing which group of friends to accompany. My Chinese roommate and I, despite our different cultural backgrounds, are very similar. We have one of the closest relationships of any of the roommates. Academically the improvement I make each week is palpable. Studying is immediately rewarding because new language knowledge, out of necessity, is used. Overall this experience is invaluable, for both my future ambitions and my growth as an individual. I feel so fortunate to be here.