Thursday, February 19, 2009

Night Market attempts 1&2, Olympic Village, and Tian'amen Flag Lowering

I'm finishing up my second week of classes now, so it's starting to sink in that I actually have to work while I'm here. I have 2 and a half hours of Chinese four times a week, while my other classes (Chinese Political Philosophy and Chinese Medicine) are three hours once a week. The classes are challenging, but I'm learning a lot.

Since getting back from Yunnan, I've seen lots of other neat parts of Beijing. The first week we were back, my friends and I attempted to find the Wanfujing night market, which is famous for all kinds of weird snack foods like fried scorpions, chicken hearts, sheep testicles, etc. We took two taxis to get there. We told our driver to take us to "Wanfujing" which is a bad idea, because wanfujing is an entire street. Also, we really had no idea where it was or what it looked like. So we got dropped off in this random part of town with a kind of run-down alley of snack stands and stores. Our friends ended up on the other side of Beijing. Since we had no idea where we were, we met up with our friends at this mall downtown where they were dropped off. Below is the picture of the fake wanfujing night market that our taxi took us to.

Actually, funny story about the downtown mall where we met up with our friends. For some reason, we always end up at this mall without intending to. The first time was looking for the wanfujing market, the second time was meeting up with one of Colleen's friends who was visiting Beijing, and the last was a few days ago when we were at Tian'amen square (and eventually the real wanfujing night market. More about that in a bit). There must be some reason we always end up at this expensive western mall!
This was the random market we got dropped off at. I ate some fried bread kabobs here that were pretty good. I don't think I'll ever be able to find this place again because I really have no idea where it was.

We decided one afternoon to go see the Olympic village. It's really easy to get to. The subway has an entire line dedicated to the Olympic buildings. It was such a nice day, and we got there right before sunset.

Me and my friend Colleen in front of the Watercube.
Ah, yes. The traditional Chinese log cabin? I really have no idea why this was in the Olympic Village. There appeared to be nothing inside. And people were taking pictures in front of it. We actually have a similar structure on the UIBE campus where I'm studying. Except ours is a pigeon coup. We also have a goat pen. Yes, we have goats on campus. It's kind of exciting. We learned that the Chinese word for goat is shen yang today because, as we were copying characters in class, we could hear the goats bleating outside. It's pretty cold. I bet they just want to be inside. I would, too.

Tuesday afternoon we went to Tian'amen square again because some of my friends had to film the flag lowering ceremony for a class. Everyday there a ceremony for the flag raising at sunrise and lowering at sunset. It was very cold this particular day. And snowing. Since when does it snow in Beijing? Really? It's a very intense ceremony. There is very official-looking marching and one of the guards folds up the flag in what appears to be a very silly manner, but is probably very ceremonial and serious.
That night we finally made it to the Wanfujing night market! We were very excited. But it was so incredibly cold that we hardly enjoyed it. I didn't get any weird food here, though. Mostly I just wanted comfort food that would help make me warm. I got some fried banana bread, pineapple rice, and a chinese chicken wrap. I do want to come back so I can try the scorpions. That is one of my goals. As we were trying to catch a taxi back to campus from the night market, we stumbled upon the same mall I was talking about before. We discovered that the mall connected directly to the subway station from the inside. This was a godsend because we did not want to step foot outside again.

That's all for now! Love and miss you all!

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