Howdy all. I know I haven’t written in a while, but just settling down after the holiday. But, a quick story before I get to my holiday time. While coming home from the Jaws movie event, I was figuring out my way home from the subway, since it was my first time riding the subway home, and had to figure out my way home from the subway. I befriended another guy who also was lost and figuring out how to get to the same area. As soon as I started talking, he seemed surprised, and said “Oh,” and we conversed in Chinese. I asked him, and he said that he didn’t think I was a foreigner, but a Chinese boy. So, I see this somewhat as an accomplishment. This is the first time someone hasn’t seen me as a foreigner, but somewhat Chinese, which makes me happy. Most of the people assume foreigner, which they have every right to assume when taking one look at me. However, it was nice not having someone assume right away and just speak English based on that assumption.
So, now I will tell you a little about the Dragon Boat Festival. It is a festival that occurs on different days, usually in June, because holidays are observed on the lunar calendar. The Dragon Boat Festival may have dragon boat races like they have in the US, and people eat zongzi, sort of like a Chinese tamale, but instead of corn husks, they are bamboo leaves and the filling is rice and usually meat or red beans.
But let me describe how Chinese holidays are really like. For Chinese holidays, everybody gets the same days off, but they have to make up the holiday time off. For example, the Dragon Boat Festival this year was June 10-12, but people had to go to work on the weekend, June 8 and 9. So, its sort of like having time off, but not really. Most people traveled, but I spent the time catching up with friends I have in Beijing from when I studied abroad here.
June 8 and 9 Beijing had bad thunderstorms and was sort of cold, wet, and miserable, so I just relaxed a bit, and caught up with a Russian classmate. On Monday June 10, I went to a touristy hutong (back alley ways in the center of Beijing, within the second ring, and sort of traditional of Beijing). On June 11, I met up with a family friend to go to the new Garden Expo. For those of you who don’t know what Chinese expos are, they are big exhibitions that take hours to go and see almost the whole thing. This one was an international expo, and this time, it was held in Beijing. They were basically mini-models of famous gardens from every single province throughout China, and some regions in the world. My friend and I almost saw it all, but walked through it in about 8 hours and still didn’t see it all.
So, that summarizes my Dragon Boat Festival. But, I have done some other exploring of Beijing. I took a fellow intern across town to a local tea market, that sells wholesale tea, Maliandao tea market. I had been there my first months in Beijing, and not back since, but I needed to buy tea. So, I went, and I found a stand, and asked if they happened to know my professor, and my college, Dickinson. She knew her, and said she remembered me, and we sampled her teas, especially their jasmine tea, which is amazing. For those of you who want to ask the question “How much does the tea in China cost?” I can answer that. I paid $15USD for 500g of the best jasmine tea I’ve ever had (and I’ve had lots). I also know they sell tea, and some people will pay over $1000USD for some green teas in summer. Also, tea buying means sampling teas in little tea stands until you find the right one, and buy it. Which can either mean lots of bathroom trips or a heavily caffeinated person, or both.
On another day off, I needed to make a bookstore run, and knew of a good selection at the biggest bookstore complex close to Peking University, where I studied before. So, I commuted over an hour and a half to the bookstore. Because it is a close walk, and a nice day, I decided to also take a stroll at the nearby No Name Lake (Wei Ming Hu) on campus. My old school ID works, which is awesome, because it got me in twice at Peking University (once for a ballet, then this time) as well as foreign-exchange student discount tickets at places. I had to take a picture of the water tower, because as you can see, this doesn’t seem like a place on a university campus, and it was blue sky. I mean, up until recently, the air quality was good, and either cloudy, rainy, and blah, or blue, and I mean true blue, which is rare in Beijing.
Lastly, I took another classmate to explore Beijing, including a night visit to Tiananmen square.
This post was just describing my down time in Beijing, what I have been up to besides working hard at my internship. My next post will describe what I’ve been up to at Roots & Shoots. For now, Zaijian!