Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Playing in Beijing city:
local style

One of the first things we did after hanging out at a local cafe was go to the National Art M
useum of China (NAMOC).
They had a great exhibit by modern Chinese artists. This one reminded me of one of my favorite artists, George Seurat, and his pointillism. The museum was nice and could've been anywhere, except for all the Chinese people and the big stand alone AC units.

Then Lynn and I went to the Modern Chinese Capital Theatre since Lynn's friend, Emma, who works for this theatre, got us free tickets to see the Hong Kong cast of Peach Blossom Land. It was quite bizzare, but fun and fortunately had English subtitles.
Me in front of the Modern Chinese Theatre.

It was a fun first day, and I'm most certain that NAMOC and the Modern Theatre are not in the Lonely Planet book. Just enjoying the art world the way Lynn and some of the locals would.

The next 3 days were spent hanging with Lynn's friends, going to church, school and running errands.
Lynn at the bank.
Note: we spent one whole day devoted to the bank. Why? Because everything is paid for in cash - rent, phone bills and tuition. So of course you have to go to the bank and get money from an actual teller. But everyone has to do the same thing, which equals long waits! So we waited several hours in both the morning and afternoon- only to not get the money in the end. Just an example of the many frustrations one has to deal with living in China! It gave me a more realistic picture of life in China, and put my "romantic" ideas of living abroad in check.

In the city: tourist style
By the 5th day, I finally ventured my way in and around Beijing city center by myself via light rail, subway and bus. I ran some travel errands and explored before Lynn met up with me in the evening.

Houhai: an area with several small pretty lakes. Great for strolling around, but it was surrounded by a lot of touristy bars and pedi-cabs trying to lure you in for a tour.
View from the lake: some peace in the crazy city.
A chinese guy blew these animals for us (rooster for Lynn and monkey for me - our Chinese birth year symbols) out of sugary syrup. We never got so many stares (an believe me, I got quite a few), and locals would ask us how much we paid for them - the chinese are obsessed with money.We got a few hours of priceless entertainment from them though!
Exercise! This was my favorite, unlike the jerky "elliptical" in the behind me. They have exercise playgrounds since a gym actually cost about $80/mth.
The Hutongs: Ally way streets scattered throughout Beijing where a lot of locals live. Some streets don't have electricity. This was one of my favorite things about Beijing - wandering aimlessly and observing the locals in the side streets. They are brimming with character, though the city is trying to eliminate them.
A kid "machine gunning" Lynn.
Parapanilia in all sorts. Hail to Mao.

Summer Palace: extreme extravagence
After a lazy morning getting food from the local market, we packed lunch and spent the entire afternoon at the palace, which is located about 20 miles outside the city center, not far from Lynn's apt. It's where the emperor lived. Not too shabby. It was fairly impressive and enjoyable, despite the hordes of Chinese tour groups.

The lake with the palace in the background.The climb up to the top of the palace.Random temples on the mountain side.People doing calligraphy with big brushes and water.Lynn and I on the backside of the palace.

After the palace and crowds, we needed a little unwinding with a little local outdoor shopping.
I didn't really buy much in China, but we had some good finds here - clothes that didn't quite make it to the states.

Fragrant Hills Park
Back to the more local happenings ... Deciding to enjoy nature and avoid the crowds, we went hiking up in the hillside way out in the boonies, beyond the 5th ring. It was mostly peaceful, "urban" hiking (ie. paved stairs the whole way up) except for the occasional loud speakers hidden in the trees playing music and an old chinese man singing aloud to his radio-phone. It would've been a lot less crowded if it weren't for the cable car up the mtn. option.
We got a great view of Beijing, and all the smog that hovered over they city. In fact, we even saw factories up on the hills. As Lynn said, "Beijing knows best."Us at top of the hill - after about a one hour hike.

My first week was already a great time with Lynn - experiencing both the insides of the culture and hitting up a few touristy things and just hanging out and sharing great meals with her. But now it was time to head on out...


caroline said...

so how much did those blow up rooster/monkey cost? it's a good question? does that make me too chinese? lol!

Angela said...

hmm.. i think we ended up paying 20 RMB for both of them which makes it about $3.