Monday, February 28, 2005

Am I Catching A Bus Or Playing Football?

This weekend was wicked awesome. But all joking a side, this weekend was pretty fun, I even have to admit the scavenger hunt that we were forced to partake in was even fun. This weekend even taught me a valuable less than for some reason I hadn’t realized before, hey but I am a slow learner. Before I get in to my lesson of the day, what did I do this weekend

On Friday night, I treated my roommate and his friends to dinner. Ever since I have gotten to Hangzhou, they pretty much every night have made me dinner, so I thought that I would return the favor, and take them out to eat. We went to one of the small restaurants behind the school. They are some top-notch restaurants; dishes are like $0.75 each. They chose one of the more lavish restaurants were the dishes are like maybe a dollar each. And they also chose to order so some food that I would a never thought of eating but in actuality it turned out to be really good. For example duck heads was one of the dishes we had and another rather taste dish was the snails. The snails kind of tasted like shrimp, they were not that bad. I can’t really explain what the ducked tasted like but it was um…um…good. For drinks we had a lot of beer. It was a really good dinner. After dinner my roommate, some of his friends, and I meet up with Clark, Joy, Jamie, Cahill, and there roommates to go out and sing karaoke. It was my first time singing karaoke. I always that singing karaoke would suck but when your feeling right, karaoke is hella fun. Friday was a good night.

Saturday for some awful reason we had to do this scavenger hunt hella early in the morning. Of course I was late waking up. A night of singing karaoke songs tires you out, just let me tell you. The start of my Saturday morning was no going so well, lets just say, my stomach was not feeling right when I woke up and the bump buses were not helping it. But when I got going and we got off the first bus my stomach didn’t hurt some much but this part is boring and I don’t want to talk about that. So on Saturday we did this scavenger hunt and we climb some mountain that had all these tea fields on it. It was pretty cool. Hangzhou is famous for their tea. Everyone in China drinks it. Because we were in the area with the famous tea, we decided to stop a tea place and a have a fresh cup. Because the tea is famous it is hella expensive so we got the cheapest cup we could and it was not that good. But chillin in the teahouse was hella relaxing. After the teahouse we went to a pagoda, we didn’t actually go in and see it but from the outside it liked nice. It was tall and majestic and just sitting there being a pagoda. I thought that was pretty flippin awesome. I like when building just sit there being all still and majestic, it means they are doing a good job at being a building and I can respect that. So after the pagoda we caught the bus home and this is where I learned my lesson of the day.

Just a word of advice for all those people we are reading this and playing to come to china and catch the bus. I suggest that before you come that you start lifting weights. Because you are going to need to be on brawlic status to catch the bus here, I mean you are going to need be on some Arnold Mr. Universe 1987 status buff. Because getting on the bus is like playing football and running track at the same time especially if there are empty sits on the bus before everyone gets on So, for all those that are coming here this is what to do and watch out for and a few tactics to use.

So this is what happens , the bus starts coming down the street and everyone sees it. So everyone starts to run to where they think the bus is going to stop. Once the bus finally stops, everyone charges for the door all at once. The trick here is not to try to stand in a line, because lines don’t exist. If you try to stand in line you are going to get thrown out of the way or pushed all the way to the back. So try to push your way to the front like everyone else. You are going to need to use force here, or better yet try to find a old lady in the 40 to 60 year old age range because they are the best at pushing people out of the way and the are the most aggressive. So try to get behind one of these old ladies, and you be the tailback and let her be the fullback. Trust me, she definitely will lead you to the promise land. Once you finally get on the bus, don’t waste time finding your seat and once you find one don’t sit down slowly because once you get on the bus it is a race for the empty sits. And don’t let the old ladies fool you; they are a lot quicker than you think. For example I was in Beijing getting on the bus, taking my time because I didn’t realize you have to take getting on a crowded bus seriously. Oh, yeah this only is for buses that are going to be crowd, if the bus is not going to be crowded you will have no problem. But anyway I was getting on this bus in Beijing, taking my time, all the Chinese people around me are racing for seats, pushing each other, but I had some luck and there was still a sit open I go to seat down in it, As I am slowly sitting down this old lady comes out of nowhere and tries to sit in the seat I am about to sit in. I almost sat right in here lap. If I had taking like 3 more seconds to seat down, she would have got me for my seat. So don’t waste time seating and everyone is going to be racing for a sit and pushing each other out of the way, so be careful when getting on, you could lose an eye are something. Also if the bus is crowded and you have to stand, never ever, ever, ever, ever stand by the back door. This is the lesson I had to learn the hard way this weekend. When the bus is crowded and you are standing by the back door you are going to be tossed around like a rag doll. I swear when I was on the bus this weekend people were using me like a pinball. I was just getting pushed around every which way and it was not even the guys who were doing it, it was the old ladies. The ladies in China are crazy and when are on bus with them you have to always be watching out for them, because they don’t give fuck about you or even other Chinese people for that matter. They will run you over like a tank in Tiananmen Square (if you don’t know about Tiananmen Square you need to read a book) and not even think twice about it. I guess the Cultural Revolution will do that to you. So to sum up everything that I have said, get buff before you get on a bus in China and watch out for the old ladies.

Just like to give a shot out to Steven “Hawaii” Jensen, keep eating all that sushi and thanks for being our number one fan.

Also like to give a shot out to Europa Yang, good luck at that second rate school. You could have been Middlebury material, nut maybe in the next life you will be cool enough to go to a school like Middlebury.
Also can someone please say hi to Golze for me, I have not seen him in like forever. I would really like to know what that guy is up.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Balling in China

So what have I been up to lately, hmmmm…I think the best answer for this question is absolutely nothing. However, I have been going to classes, isn’t that exciting? My favorite class is this class called one on two. It is class where you and a teacher and another student read the easiest textbook that they could find. Basically, it is a first year Chinese student textbook. The whole time you are reading this textbook the teacher is listening to you speak and every time you say a word, she tells you are saying it wrong. It is the most frustrating class in the whole word. I can’t say two words with out being corrected on my tones. While, the class is flippin’ frustrating and makes you lose all confidence in your Chinese speaking ability, it is still extremely useful. Hopefully, by the end of the class, if I don’t kill the teacher or myself first, I will be speaking like a real Chinese person.

The other classes I am taking here are classes that help you increase your Chinese business vocabulary, a discussion class, and my one on one class. Everyone takes a one on one class here, it is a class that is just you and the teacher and you choose a topic to discuss. My topic is international politics from a Chinese person point of view. So far it is pretty interest and the teacher is flippin’ awesome.

Oh, another thing that I have been dong is playing a lot of basketball. People are probably not going to believe this, but I am probably going to join the basketball team here. This either means that my bballing skills are off the chains right now or peoples’ basketball skills are not that good. I would like the think that my skills are just off the chains right now. Even though I am probably going to make the team here I am far from the best player here. A lot these guys have crazy jumpers. Better than most people in the states, a lot better than Middlebury’s basketball team. I don’t know when tryouts are for team, but if I make it I will be sure to tell all of you and if I don’t forget I mentioned any of this.

So that pretty much all I have been doing. Tonight I am going to take my roommate and his friends out to dinner, because they have been hella nice to ever since I got here. They are always feeding my making sure I am not bored, all sorts of stuff. So, I thought it would be nice to return the favor and take them out to dinner and tonight we are going to the bar and I am teaching them how to dance. This is going to be hella interesting because most Chinese people have rhythm like my mom and that means none.
Well, I am completely out of things to say, so, I’m out.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

a quick response

i had not read durrell's post before i posted mine, but i would like to discuss the point at which i was almost killed. we were riding the escalator up in the train station, and somebody's chinese roommate was there helping us out. she had one of the enormous bags, was standing right in front of me, and for some reason immediately toppled over. in doing so she basically landed right on top of me. the way we were situated, she still had her feet on the ground but was laying horizontal. i was holding her up with one hand (she is pretty small), but couldn't do anything about it because my other hand was trying to handle all the other crap i had to keep from falling down the escalator onto innocent bystanders. but she eventually got back up, and that is all.

using chopsticks well; tragedy strikes

i know it's been a while since i rapped at you, but i wanted to wait until i had access to a working, and semi-clean, keyboard. these internet bars simply don't cut it. they are full of students playing online games or watching t.v. shows. people spend so much time in there, that some restaurants run a business of sending people through with carts of fried rice and other such things. also it's very dark. anyway, i've finally dragged my lazy butt over to the school's computer center, which is pretty small, but is deviod of people. probably because there is no counter-strike installed on these computers.

i'd like now to address the second part of my title today, so nobody stays worried throughout the rest of my post. i seem to have permanently misplaced my USB flash drive, which had all of the pictures i took while in beijing. so all that i am left with is the low quality versions i've put here, and some random stuff i've e-mailed to other people. but never fear, i've mostly gotten over it by now, and i remember what beijing looked like (crap). but what does that mean for my faithful readers? you'll have to wait a while to see any pictures while i sort myself out.

i think my favorite word in the chinese language is lihai, which directly translated means "fearsome." for example, you could say bruce lee is very lihai, which is probably the most appropriate usage of the word. however, you can also use the word to describe all sorts of things, or at least i like to. for example, someone's use of chopsticks can be lihai, as can the scenery. however, the most lihai thing that i can think of is clark's laziness.

my roommate is a pretty cool dude named Tang Yong. he's studying architecture here, but also likes to play soccer and take long walks on the beach. another thing he really likes is helping my incompetent ass out. it seems like we're gonna get along really well. last night he let me listen to some of his favorite chinese rock music, which is not bad considering the pop garbage that dominates here. i had him listen to my favorite song, "trailer trash" by modest mouse, and had fun trying to explain to him what "trailer trash" meant, as well as the title of the album, "the lonesome crowded west." he said that last semester he took a course on rock music, and the professor made them listen to "the wall" from start to finish on the roof of one of the buildings here one night.

well, today is another holiday here, and we're gonna try to go down to west lake (the major tourist draw in hangzhou) to look at some lamps or something. the weather has been really nice the last two days, and i took some pictures, but i'll write about all that next time. and because you all love us, our contact info is below:

Middlebury College School in China
Center for International Programs
Zhejiang University of Technology
Box # 1026
Number 6, Zhaohui District
Hangzhou, P.R.C. 310032

just stick anybody's name at the top of that. also, if you wish to call me, my phone number is
011-86-571-8881-7676. please be aware of the time difference if you do decide to spend a ridiculous amount of money to say hello. also, i am getting a fax line put in this weekend, so i'll get that to you as soon as possible (joke).

somebody remind me to pick up the bloc party debut album when i get back to the states.

Monday, February 21, 2005

he Friend of Your Enemy Is Not Your Friend, But Your Enemy

The title of this blog has been learned the hard way but at least it has finally been learned. This is about the part of the trip that Golze did not mention in his blog.

So sometime last week we left for Hangzhou, I didn’t remember the date but Golze has it in his blog. But if you really want to know when we got here, I have been here for 4 days now. You do the math. On the day that we left Beijing for Hangzhou there was just 11 of us. But it seemed like we had luggage that would have been suitable for about 23 of us. Personally I packed light for my trip to China, I packed enough that I could live out of one large backpack for several days. The only luggage I had for the trip to Hangzhou was my large backpack and to really small over the shoulder bags. All the stuff I had with me, I could carry myself. And for the most part the 11 of us who were going to Hangzhou on the train with me packed enough that they could carry their stuff themselves. However, not all the people who are here at Hangzhou came on the train with us, they chose to come from other places around china. And because these, for lack of a better clean word, jerkfaces do not know how to pack for a trip, they left half of their crap in Beijing and graciously giving us the duty to trains port their crap across china for them. And these people left huge ass suitcases for us to carry for them. They left more shit than I brought myself. I am not going to drop any names, but these are the most inconsiderate people I have ever came across. First because they left huge amounts of there crap for people to carry and secondly I have not gotten one thank you from anyone of these people. But moving on, because they left all their crap we had to carry it for them, something I was not going to do when I found out I had to do this. But unfortunately, their was a lot more bags than people so I was forced to transport one of Tixo’s heavy ass bags, but I am not going to drop any names. Putting all the bags on the bus to the train station was not hard. What was hard going up the stairs to the bridge that was the only way to cross the street. For some reason the bus driver could not park on the other side of the street where the train station was situated. I have also noticed that ever time I go somewhere in China stairs become a problem, Chinese stairs and me do not get along. So after negotiating the bridge stairs there are the stairs that lead to the train that we have get through. But before that Golze almost got killed but I will let him tell that story at his own leisure. So these stairs are a straight drop to the train. There was a time when I thought the bag that I was pulling was going to get away from me and smash all the little Chinese people below. It would have taken out like ten of them. It was a pretty big bag and these were pretty small people. But luckily I had no problems, but some of my classmates were not so lucky and either fall down the stairs or lost some bags or both. Once we finally go to the train we had to find places to put all of our stuff and all the other people’s stuff who did not come on the train with us. We ended up making a pretty cool fort in one of the “Ying Wo” (soft sleeper) areas that we had. It reminded me of my childhood days. There was so many bags that two people ended up having to share a bed for the 16 hour train ride, poor Joy and Jamie. But whatever, it wasn’t me sharing with someone, and that is all that matters. So to make a long story short we ended up having to carry all these people’s shit, who are ungrateful jerkfaces. And I also almost killed Golze with a bag that got away from me at the end of this trip. But lucky for him he was pulling two other bags that were not his, they slowed the runaway bag down and he didn’t die going down the stairs. But he was not pleased and gave me “The Golze Stare”. I thought he was going to kill with his eyes; it is a pretty scary stare.

So now we are in Hangzhou and it is really different from Beijing. The first thing that you notice coming here is that you are in a never-ending state of cold because all the hit systems if they have it suck. My room has the hit on full blast but it still is like 50 degrees in there. Another thing that is different is the food. It definitely has a different flavor, but hey in the end it is all Chinese food. Also another big difference is the way people talk here. They definitely use different words and have an accent that many of us are not used to. Sometime it is hard to understand them.

On note that is totally unrelated to anything remotely important, I am really feeling Usher’s music right now. It is probably because before today I only had a total of three CDs in China two being Usher’s (8701 and Confessions) and the other being a Chinese rapper’s CD that I cannot understand to save my life. Even though I don’t understand him it is still hot. He is like a mix of….of…. well he is not really a mix of anyone in the states, but it is still hot. But right now I am really feeling his Confessions CD, especially the song "Throwback". I don't that song is just speaking to me and so is the rest of the CD. Well, I am tired of writing about absolutely nothing so I am done with this blog and the blog about my trip is coming soon. Whenever this stupid computer let’s me access it and finish writing it.

And to all those that expect to talk to me on AIM, there is no AIM where I am in China. So you are going to have to talk to me the old fashion way, e-mail. Sorry.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

...hello hangzhou

after an incredibly harrowing journey on the train, we have finally made it to hangzhou, which will be our home for the next three and a half months. so far, the place seems pretty nice, though right now it is cold and rainy. but there is also the color green, which i have not seen for some time. in beijing, there were some pine trees, but their color was more of a grey than a green. here there is grass!

we're staying at the zhejiang university of technology, which has a pretty large and nice campus, at least what i've seen of it. we're staying in the foreign students dormitory, which has pretty nice rooms, though also pretty cold rooms. it actually is pretty freakin cold here. sort of right on the line where you don't have to wear a hat and gloves, but the buildings aren't as uniformly heated as in beijing. i think it's because below a certain latitude, or maybe a river, in china, the government no longer provides free heat during the winter. so there is no heating here. except for the space heaters in the rooms of the foreign students dormitory, thank god.

our roommates move in this afternoon, so we're just killing time for now in an internet bar across the gate from the university. the staff here seems really nice. hopefully it will be better than last semester where the resident director just skipped out halfway through, apparently. anyway, here's hoping i get a good roommate.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

My unforgettable, forgotten cab ride on Valentines Day.

I have only woken up drunk twice in my life and both times have been in China. And after last night I don’t think I am ever going to drunk again in my life, especially since Golze tried to kill me through alcohol poisoning. I am almost positive that Golze was trying to kill, I am not completely sure but nobody keeps feeding somebody that much alcohol unless they are trying to kill them. But before I get into how Golze tried to end my life. I have other things to write about.

So yesterday, I got back in to Beijing at 6:30 and the best thing happened too me. It was probably the first time ever that me being a minority has paid off. And it was freaking sweet. So after taking getting off the train Joy and I take a bus back to the school and because we have to our big backpacks with us we have to put them in the seat next to us. We get on the bus and have to buy tickets, I only have to buy on ticket, but Joy on the other hand has to buy two because the lady said that here bag was to big and taking up to much space. She didn’t even care about my bag. I thought this was the funniest thing ever. Joy was so unhappy about the situation. So I guess, the Chinese people thinking that I don’t look American has paid off.

After the bus ride we just went back to the school and slept because we were so tired. But after waking up and eating, Golze invited me and so other people to go out to a Chinese Punk Rock Concert at the “Shenme Ba” (The What Bar), which is about the size of a Battell dorm. Generally, I am not a fan of the Punk Rock but since I didn’t have anything better to do I went with him. But before we went to the Concert Golze had the bright idea of buying some “Bai Jiu” (it is the worst alcohol in the whole world, and the Chinese people love it) and two beers each. So before the Concert we shared a small bottle of Bai Jiu and had two beers each. By the time I Got to The Shenme Ba I had a nice buzz going. Even though the Shenme Ba was small it was still a pretty cool place. And the punk rock music was not bad even though they didn’t have their own drummer. Because they didn’t have their own drummer they invited every foreign they could to play the drums. So one of my class mates volunteered to play with them. She has no idea how to play the drums. But even though she had no idea how to play she still did a really good job. Maybe it is because Punk Rock music is not that complicated, I don’t really know why she did so well. But after she played three songs. This English guy comes out of no where and starts playing with the Chinese Punk Rockers. And he was hella good. But as the concert is going on Golze suggest to buy more drinks. He tells about this drink that is supposed to be really good, it is green tea and whisky. Unfortunately, the bar tenders had never heard of this drink so they let us make it ourselves. I have never tried and Golze had only had it once. Thus, we have no idea how to really make and how to make so it taste good. So we partially make the first one and Golze takes the first taste and says there is not enough whisky in it. Obviously, I trust what he says because is the only one who had this before. So when we are done making this drink we go back and sit down, and I take my first taste of this drink. It is the strongest drink ever made in the whole world. All you can taste is the alcohol. But like a trooper I drink all down. Then Golze goes and buys us some more drinks, this time he gets a gin and tonic. That has to be the gross old person drink ever in the history of the whole world. But I drank almost all of it before I passed it along. So at the Shenme Ba we meet some other foreigners and they invite us to go with them to some other bar. But before we go Golze suggest buying another small bottle of Bai Jiu. So we get the bottle of Bai Jiu and some Skittles to put in the Bai Jiu. He was idea to put the Skittles in the Bai Jiu to make it taste better. Hey, I was drunk at that point and it seemed like a good idea at the time. But let me tell you the Skittles did not make the Bai Jiu taste better at all. But when the bottle was finished it was nice to suck on some sweet hard Skittles. So at this next bar that we went, I think it was called the Black Sun bar but I am not to sure because I am really drunk at this point, so we sit down and the foreigners we are with buy us some shots. So we spend so time at this bar, I have no idea how much time. Time does not exist to me at this point. But since I didn’t want to drink anymore, I spent some time playing darts against this Chinese guy. I have to say I killed his “Pi Gu” (Butt). All those nights playing darts in Lacey and Matt Powers suit finally paid off. So after sometime we leave the bar, and get into a cab. And I get in to the front seat. Normally, the person who sits in the front is supposed to tell the taxi driver how to get back to the school. So spit out some words in Chinese on how to get back, whether or not he understood me, I am still not clear about. But some how the taxi driver takes us the front gate of the school. And this definitely not where I told him to go in Chinese. And I know Golze didn’t tell him how to get back because he was in the back sleeping and I was in the front in my own little world. So maybe Joy and Courtney told the taxi driver how to get back or maybe I did at some point. It is all unclear. But after getting out of the taxi, I did not say bye to anyone, all I did was go back to my room.

So today for some odd reason, even though this was my idea from yesterday, everyone wakes up around 10 a.m. and decides they want to go to the American breakfast place. I am still a sleep when the all decide that 10 a.m. is the best time to go. But like idiots, they wake me up and drag me along. I am not very happy that they changed my plan for two reasons. First the plan was when I woke up on my own free will we would go to American breakfast, and two I woke up still drunk. So I was in a very bad mode waking up this more. But even though I woke up in a bad mood, I am still glad they dragged me along because I love and miss American breakfast so much. So much. And I must say while I am writing this blog I am still a little drunk and it has been really really hard to write this. I keep losing my train of thought while I am writing. But now I am finally done writing so I am going to go to DQ and get some ice cream and crawl back into bed and pass out for the rest of my life.

This the part of the blog where I give shot outs to me friends.

I would like to say Happy Birthday to a couple of good friends:
Happy Birthday B.G.E. don’t drink to much for the 21
Happy 21 also to Julie, I am glad that your birthday went so well
Happy 21st Birthday to Skip too, keep up the good djing work and continue to hold down DMC.

And to all the DMC crew continue to make this semester the best one ever, so when I come back we can continue to do big things.

And to all the Nuns, continue to do the Nun thing, I really don’t know what you guys do, but continue to keep doing what you are doing. And bring me back something cool from London, I want something like the 6 off of Big Ben. The real 6.

And to Ann, I did put those pictures on your door. Hahahahaha.

To everyone you guys don’t need to worry about me because I am obviously smarter than the average bear.

Oh, yeah and the last entry to my Long March blog is coming soon. It will be coming out on February 16th, 2005.

Monday, February 14, 2005

so long beijing...

there's nothing like spending a sunday afternoon taking your kids to the military museum and letting them climb all over a tank. tomorrow's glorification of the military starts today!

we're heading down to hangzhou on wednesday afternoon, so you probably won't hear from me again until the end of the week. though maybe durrell will finally finish his stupid story about his trip. have you realized that he wrote two novel-length posts about the exact same period of time? where do i find these people...

Sunday, February 13, 2005

The Long March Ended in a Threesome (The True Story of My Trip to Tai Shan, Qing Dao, and Da Tong) continued....

Since the Chinese Censor Bureau and the American Censor Bureau have threatened to end my blogging privileges and threatened to take a way my professional journalism licenses, the rest of my blogs will be toned down. Oh, and by Chinese Censor Bureau, I mean Golze (he has all the administrative on our blog, so he thinks he is Mao Ze Dong or something), and by American Censor Bureau, I mean my mom (she controls all the cash flow in my life, so enough said). I also would like to apologize again to all the parents who are reading this and to all the little kids I let down with my inappropriate language. I don't want anyone to forget, I do it for the kids. Because children are our future.

So now, let me continue from where I last left off, Tai Shan has a lot stairs. At first you don't notice how many stairs there are because the scenery is beautiful and there are many things to see along the way. I think my favorite thing that I saw before I realized that there are like a million stairs on that mountain was the Dragon tree. This is a tree that has some how grown together in to what the Chinese say is a shape of a Dragon. To me it didn't really look like a dragon but it still looked cool anyway. While this was my favorite thing before the stairs almost killed me, there was other interesting stuff that we saw a long the way. For example, Tai Shan is loaded with lots of temples. Because we were climbing on Chun Jie the temples were very lively and interesting. My favorite temple was the one right after the dragon trees, not because it was particularly interesting but because there was this one really funny guy there that had the "you speak so well conversation" with us, but in reverse.

The "you speak so well" conversation is a conversation that every Chinese person has with you once they figure out that you speak Chinese. If you are a Chinese student you will know what I am talking about, and if you are not maybe you won't find this funny or interesting at all. First you say a sentence in Chinese then a set of about two, three, maybe even four questions follow, the dialogue normally goes like this. "Oh, you speak question?" The normal reply is, "Yes." "What country are you from?" The normal reply is, "America." Then next thing they normally say is you speak so well. The normal reply is, "Of course." Or for more modest people, the reply is, "Something on the lines of Thanks or No my Chinese sucks." Then they sometime ask you next, "how years have you studied or how long have you been in China?" This reply varies. But it is always followed by, "wow, you speak so well." So that is the "you speak so well conversation." It was funny having the "you speak so will conversation with this guy in reverse, is one he obviously speaks chinese and he is obviously a chinese person, and two he knew all the standard replies. Re-reading what I just wrote, I don't think I explained this very clearly, but if you are a Chinese student that has ever had this conversation you would understand, how funny this was.

Back to The Long March, as I was saying before the march was pleasant and beautiful at first. It was even slightly snowing on our way up, to add more beauty to the climb. The fact that it was slightly snowing probably made our climb warmer than golzes. Just because of the fact that it was warm enough to snow. People who know me may think that I am being sarcastic right now, but I am so serious, the snow made it even more beautiful. I must say that I am not the outdoors type and more comfortable in the city, but at this point the climb was I can't think of a better word that I can spell right now. However, once we reached the gate that had the trees growing the stairs started to I am being censored, let's just say annoying. And at that point we had not even reached the halfway point. The halfway point did not coming until about 800 stairs later. 800 hundred stairs doesn't sound like a lot especially when you have to climb 6600 stairs. But let me tell you, with our backpacks and having already climbed like 12 million before that, I thought I was going to die by the time we reached the top. But once we finally reached the middle gate I was so happy. Then reality set in and I realized that that was only the halfway point and there was still more stairs to come. I swear I could have cried right then. But then I toughened up, fixed my backpack straps, and complained the rest of the way to the top. Since this part of the trip is all a blur in my mind, I am going to fast forwarded through this part. On the way up to the top from the middle gate, there was more stones with famous carvings in them, one really cool looking tree, majestic views, more temples, and one of the longest steepest stair cases with the tiniest stairs I have ever seen in my life. Let's pause here for a moment. This stair case from the bottom looks beautiful. It is hard to believe that man made it. It is also the last staircase before you reach the top of the mountain. It has about 1,600 stairs. I felt like a giant on each step, it was definitely not made for my feet. Each step I took, I thought I was going to fall all the was back down to the bottom. But climbing each and everyone of those stairs was worth it, once I reached the top. Reaching the top, was one of the greatest feelings I have ever had. My happiest about reaching the top did not last long, as I was bombarded by people trying to get me to sleep in there hotel for the night. But once I got away from them, the feeling of glory and victory quickly returned. Until, I reached the hotel that we would be staying for the night.

As my time at the internet cafe is quickly running out again, I have to end here. But I promise the next post that I have will be the last one concerning this trip. Which is good because by time I am able to blog again, I will be back at CET and my trip will finally be over.

This part is for my dad. Happy Birthday 48th Big Head, my you have many more. Man, you are getting old.

And to Ann, I don't know who did it, but it wasn't me.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

bian POW!!!!1

in beijing, setting off fireworks (fa bian pao) is illegal, for obvious reasons. you don't want 15 million people recklessly launching highly flammable explosives in a dense urban area. however, that law only applies within the fifth ring road, the fifth highway that circles the city. so, guess where all 15 million people go to set off fireworks on the chinese new year: immediately outside the fifth ring road. and, since i'm writing this introduction, guess where i was on new year's eve. that's right, immediately outside the fifth ring road.

for reasons i won't go into in this blog post, i ended up about a mile outside the fifth ring road at 11:45 pm on new year's eve with a recently divorced chinese lawyer, four chinese people i didn't know, one of which was a doctor, and a korean-canadian diplomat from montreal with one leg in a full cast. a motley crew to be sure. immediately after passing under the highway, it was like world war iii. people were running everywhere, we had to swerve around enormous strings of firecrackers in the middle of the street, fireworks bouncing of buildings, etc. i don't know how, but some chinese people got their hands on some pretty serious ordinance. some of the explosions literally shook the ground. the above picture is fireworks bursting on the horizon.

needless to say, we had our own large cardboard box filled with with explosives. of course, before setting anything off, the chinese folks in our group decided it would be a good idea to start smoking. that is why, in the picture below, i am using a cigarette to light a rather exciting collection of fireworks. one of the tubes decided that vertical was not its preferred trajectory, and instead choose a more horizontal flavor. the damn thing ended up bursting about ten feet away, after bouncing off own of our cars.

all in all, a very fun time. here's your parting shot, beijing at sunset on new year's day.

Friday, February 11, 2005

The Long March Ended in a Threesome (The True Story of My Trip to Taishan, Qingdao, and Datong)

I don't really remember where I last left off, but I do remember I was angry. Well, I am not angry anymore and this trip has been pretty awesome. It has been the perfect thing to easy my mind. Since, I do not remember where I last left off, I will start at the beginning of our journey, which was the Beijing Train Station.

At the start of this trip it was Joy, Xiao Mei, and I, we where three lonely souls looking for a fantastic adventure. And right from the start we got it. Let me tell you, the Beijing Train Station before Chun Jie is ridiculously crowded. There are people everywhere, there is even a Chinese proverb for this experience (Ren Shan Ren Hai, it means people are everywhere from the mountain to the sea). Battling to get on the train was tough because everyone is trying to get on the train at the same time. People are pushing this way and that. I have played at least ten years of football, and it definitely did not prepare me for this experience. As people started to throw me out the way and I was not getting any closer to the front, I toughened up, and at one point I almost took out a little Chinese lady. Joy has a good picture of me beasting this little China lady. It is not really funny, but it was her or me, and let me tell you she had it coming. It was hard to get through the people, but once you got through it was easy to get on the train. And for lack of a better word the train was fucking sweet. We went with the more upscale part of the train and chose Ying Wo (Hard Sleeper). Ying Wo is a compartment with six beds, three on each side. I don't know how to explain how nice Ying Wo is but take my word for it, it is nice. And out of all the trains I took this was the nicest one. Oh, by the way we are taking this train to Tai An, the city that Tai Shan is in and if you don't know, Tai Shan is a mountain (in Chinese Shan means mountain). So, yeah, I lost my train of thought. Something about trains and riding on them. Ok, so we where in Ying Wo and the people that we were riding with were all very interested in us because we were Wai Guo Ren (Foreingers). A word of advise if you are a foreinger in China people will be very interested in you, and often the will stare at you for copious amounts of time, to the point that you will feel uncomfortable. I am so glad that I cut off my afro, because if I didn't have it people would definitely stare at me more. Right now, because I cut my hair, I can semi-blend in. People think I am Asian so they don't stare at me as much when I am by myself. They tend to think I am Malayasian or Indian or some other Asian, I have even got a couple of Chinese. But when I am with Joy people know right away I am a foreigner and they tend to stare at us even more. Inparticularly, Joy, she has brought us a lot of attention. I would just like to say right now, thanks Joy. At times this attention is very helpful and gets us the things we want (there we will be an example of this later in the story when I meet my train friend) and a lot the time it is unwanted and makes us feel uncomfortable. The fact that Joy and I can speak Chinese has only caused to be bring more attention upon ourselves. I like the fact that everyone says that we speak Chinese well, but sometimes when they find out that we speak Chinese all they do is want to talk to us. And speaking Chinese is hard if you didn't know and takes a lot of concentration, and when you are tired you just don't want to speak in Chinese. Maybe I am just lazy. However, this trip has definitely increased my Chinese speaking skills and even though it is tring at times I still like speaking in Chinese. But on this first train the attention was kind of cool and we meet some pretty cool people in our Ying Wo area. There was even one Chinese guy that could speak English. It was a good experience for our first train ride in China. Talking with those people just makes you realize how friend and helpful Chinese people are. I don't really want to get in to anymore details about this train ride because there are much more to come in this story and what I think was a much more interesting one. Also my time is running out at this internet bar and I have not even talked about my threesome experience on the top of Tai Shan.

So moving on, we caught the 10:00 am train to Tai An and did not arrive in Tai An until about 5:30 pm. When we got there the first thing we did was buy our tickets to Qing Dao, which was Joy and My next destination. Xiao Mei went to Ji Nan, Xiao Mei is a cool girl and everything but we were ready to part was from here once we got down from the mountain. But that is another story. Back to Tai An, we bought tickets and then we went to our hotel. The hotel was super sweet. I loved it. At that point it was the best place that I had stayed in China. To bad it was just one night. But the hotel had free dry cleaning and soft beds and what I later found out is the most important thing that you want from a hotel in China in the middle of winter. It had a good, check that, great heating system. At this time I didn't realize how important a good heating system is but through an unfortunate turn of events I would later find out. But at the time the thing that I would say that we all were most impressed with was the clean ass bathroom. At our dorm in Beijing, lets just say that our bathrooms are less than clean, but the heating system works fine. So once we finished getting settled in and finished being awestruck by the hotel, we went out to eat. One thing that I have learned from this eating experience is that one you should not go to Tai An expecting to eat good food, and two don't go to the beef place expecting good chicken or even other good dishes for that matter. Because in China it doesn't happen that way. So if you go to the beef place you should get some beef. Just a word of advice. After the eating and going to the internet cafe where I got to read some interesting emails, that I still have not quite had the chance to reply to, we went back to the hotel and took some hot ass showers in our clean ass bathroom. After the showers, it was time for some shut eye and we just prepared for the next day. That was Saturday, the 7th.

On Sunday the 8th, we prepared to climb Tai Shan and we began our Long March. Lucky for us, the base of the mountain was only a few blocks from our hotel. Before I begin, I would have to say that the best thing that I bought before coming to China was my travel backpack. It is so convenient and makes caring your stuff so easy. However, when climbing a mountian with all your crap on your back, your travel back becomes your worse enemy. At one point on the trip up, I just wanted to leave my bag behind. Let me explain why, Tai Shan is a mountain with a fucking ridiculously long ass staircase to the top. There are about 6600 steps to the top. I know because I counted everyone of them and steped on everyone. These are not the type of stairs that you take two at a time, especially when it is snowing. But that is getting a head of myself and I need to start at the beginning. So at the beginning of the trip everyone was happy and excited to climb the mountain. We even slept in until 10:30 am so that we could be well rested. We started the climb at about 11:15. So from the hotel there is a hill that leads up to the base of the mountain. Normally on this hill before you get to the base of the mountain, you can buy hot food of some sort. But because it was Chun Jie, there were absolutely no stores open. Lucky for us, we ran into this little girl that was making these pancake looking things. However they didn't taste like pancakes. They tasted more like a big ass pringle with out the salt but just as dry. But because there was no other stores open the big ass pringle hit the spot. After we all gobbled down our big ass pringles, we started our clean to the top. On Tai Shan, there are several gates, the most important are the First Gate to Heaven, The Middle Gate to Heaven, and South Gate to Heaven. At the First Gate to Heaven, everyone was excited, ready to climb, thinking this is going to be the greatest adventure ever. At first when we were climbing the stairs were not really a problem. We thought that if the stairs are like this, this climb is going to be easy. Later, we realized that our thinking was rather in correct. But before, we came to this realization, the climb was very enjoyable. According to Joy, "Tai Shan is the number one most holiest mountain Daoist place thing in China". So there was a lot to see on our way up the mountain. Tai Shan is known for having all those rocks with famous writings in them. I took a lot of pictures of those. You can see them when I get back or something. Also on the way up are a lot of cool temples and some roasters. But the worst thing that you see a lot are the fucking stairs. There a lot of stairs to the top of this mountain. I personally believe more than necessary. But since my time is running out in this internet cafe I am going to have to leave off here.

Highlights to come, the stairs and more stairs, a unusal threesome, the city by the sea, and Buddhas hiding in caves.

Tune in next time, same bat time same bat channel. And I am out.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

the monkey's last days

so, everybody has left me here alone in beijing. other people you may or may not know from middlebury are currently galavanting around the frozen wastelands of china in the winter, while i sit here in the frozen wastelands of beijing. see below for an example.

i took that picture while standing in the middle of a frozen lake in a beijing park. there were guys fishing in the ice, pulling up guppies every now and then. we talked to them for a while, and one said that the city government doesn't like them doing that, and that he was nervous because we were foreigners who for some reason would broadcast to the world what they were doing. i guess i proved him right.

so i've been reduced to consorting with the lowly remaining students here, many of whom are not even from Middlebury!! *gasp* last night a bunch of us went to a bar on a popular bar street called sanlitun. actually, the bar is not actually on sanlitun road, but an alley nearby. I went there the first weekend, and there were at least a dozen bars and discos, etc. last night there were two bars. today there is one bar. beijing has for several years been threatening to shut the area down, and it looks like they finally got around to it. i went to one bar one night the first weekend, and now there is just a pile of rubble. it's pretty incredible.

in any event, i'm planning to get up early tomorrow morning to watch the superbowl (7 a.m.). i will make it a point to post once again before the new year, but if i don't catch you before then, xin nian kaui le, which means happy new year. so you can rock that on the 9th. welcome in the year of the rooster. in the meantime, here's a picture of the new beijing west railroad station.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Venting All My Anger and Some Weekend Plans

I think that the culture shock has hit me, because I seem to get pissed off real easily or maybe it's just the fact that the person that I thought was my good friend has continually let me down. And no, I am not talking about that dumb broad. So this whole China experience has caused me to have a new outlook on life. And from now on I am going to have a f*** you pay me attitude. It is time that I start looking out for me, and f*** everyone else.

Ok, that is enough of venting my anger. So this week we tried countless time to buy tickets to go to a mountain called Tai Shan. On Monday we started trying to buy tickets for this adventure, but every time we tried to buy tickets the ticket people wouldn’t sell them to us, things were looking real bleak. But finally on Friday, we had success and bought three tickets for Saturday morning to Tai Shan. This is the same place that Golze went to. Originally, there was supposed to be six people going on this adventure, but at the last minute Clark, Jamie, and Cahill dropped out; so it is just me, Joy, and Xiao Mei (an American student that is only 18, Xiao Mei means little sister) on this adventure. Today we arrived in Tai Shan at 4:30 and tomorrow we will climb the mountain. We plan to stay the night at the top to see the sunset and sunrise. It is supposed to be really beautiful and since we have to wake up really early on Monday morning to see the sunrise maybe, if we are lucky we will be able to find a place to watch the Super Bowl. The one thing that I hope about the hike is that it is not as cold as Golze said it was. But whatever I am tough like nails.

After we finish climbing the mountain, Joy and I plan to go to Qing Dao and celebrate Chun Jie (Spring Festival, Clark has a good blog about this, oh, wait that is Golze that has a good blog about this because Clark doesn’t write blogs) with Joy’s ex-Chinese roommate’s family. Qing Dao is on the coast of China so they are supposed to have some really good seafood. I can’t wait to try it. After the Chun Jie holiday, Joy and I will go to Da Tong in the Shan Xi province and look at the famous Hanging Temple and caves. I will explain more about these places once I go. Because I actually don’t know much about where I am going. Joy was like do you want to go here and here and I was like I don’t really know where here and here is but sure, so that is what I am doing now.

Sorry for all the angry words. But I had to vent my anger somewhere. So if you didn’t like it deal with it. Except if you are like an adult or my parents and stuff then sorry, and if you are anyone else reading this blog sorry.

Friday, February 04, 2005

50 marco polos

first off, i'd like to say that durrell is a blogging machine. i had no idea he'd be such an assest when i added him on. i'd also like to say that those last two blogs were perhaps the funniest things i have ever read. durrell, you're an inspiration to our entire organization. he even makes up for clark's enormous laziness.

so we just had our graduation ceremony, j-term is over, and we're speaking english again. we just had an amazing lunch at the marco polo hotel, and i ate wayyyyy too much, so i'm about to go lay down for a while. one cool note, we got graduation certificates from the people's republic of china. ok, it sounded cool before i wrote it.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

My Own Introduction (even though it is pretty late and I hope that you all already know me and stuff)

I have just finished reading the introduction to this blog and it fails to mention the most important person participating in these blogs, namely me. Since the two jerkfaces that started this blog did not invite me to blog with them until we reached China, I happen to not be in the introduction. So this is my introduction. The most interesting thing about the introduction, is that Clark fails to mention the real reason that he began to study Chinese. But before I tell this story, allow me to introduce myself, my name is Ma Du and those other guys will be with me in China for most of my time here. Okay, enough with the intro. And back to why Clark began to study Chinese.

I have known Clark since freshmen year of college. Unfortunately, we were paired up to be roommates freshman year. But since I can deal with any situation that I am put in I made the best of it and it worked out fine. So after we have gone through all the orientation and all the coming into college introduction stuff, it is time to finally chose classes. Clark has no idea what he wants to do, he is freaking out. He starts doing the normal Clark thing and making lists and drawing maps and basically trying to plan out his whole life by the first four classes he takes in college. Clark is like a scared little rabbit. I swear he was about to wet his pants. But anyway, I tell Clark hey I think I am going to take Chinese and I think I am probably going to be a IP&E major. The next thing I know, Clark is like hey, “I want to do that too. He is like Ma Du, your so cool, I am so glad you are my roommate. From now on whatever you do, I am doing to do too.” And the rest is history. He is now studying aboard with me in Beijing and Hangzhou and also has the same major as me. But would I say that Clark’s a follower. I don’t know but I think I would say vote Pedro for president.

When in China, Don't Lie about Being an American.

So apparently that old ancient Chinese proverb about newspapers and toilets doesn’t exist. Damn it Clark, always making things up.

So about my day, which also includes a great story about Clark. Clark, Joy, Golze, Cahill, Jamie, and I all made plans to go see the body today. When getting off the subway we pass by the Chinese Museum of History, outside of the place is a Chinese women. When she sees us she automatically knows that we are American, so she comes right up to us and begins speaking in English and trying to get us to go into some exhibition art exhibit place, where they are probably going to try and sell us something. So, as she is speaking in English we start to speak in Chinese. And Clark says, using Chinese, “I can’t speak English”. So the lady continues to speak to us in Chinese and is trying to get us to go in to the exhibit place. Finally, she asks us, in Chinese, “Where are you from?”. Clark responds, in Chinese, “We are from France”. I was about to tell her that we were from Malaysia but then I realized I could not do that because Clark was with me. I know I do not look Malaysian, but a Chinese person has asked me before if I was from Malaysia, so in China I can pass. But anyway, once Clark told this lady that we were from France, she began to speak in what I think was perfect French. I don’t speak French so I don’t know. But anyway she started speaking in French and Clark’s only response was “Wee”. At that point we could only walk a way fast, because she either knew that we didn’t speak French or we made her incredibly sad because she thought her French was bad. But it was the funniest things that I have experienced since I have been in China. So a word of advise when in China don’t lie about being an American. Say that you are from the Netherlands. I mean who speaks Netherlandish, in any country.

After that awesome experience, we all went to see the body. To our surprise it was free. At one point we thought the Chinese Army was going to arrest us for not paying. But lucky we blended in with the rest of the Chinese people and got by with out paying. At least we thought that was what was happening but in reality it was free. When you are going to see the body, you have to standing in a line of four across with a million other people. After that, they slow escort you into the building. But the first stop is a place you can buy flowers. After that you ascend some stairs and start to enter the building where the body is. The first thing that you see is this statue of Mao Ze Dong sitting in a chair. It looks like the statue of Abraham Lincoln in Washington D.C. You know that one statue where he is sitting down in the chair and it is really famous and he is sitting, in a chair. So yeah, it looked like that. At the base of the statue is a table and that is where everyone put the flowers. We think that after the tour is over, the army people collect all these flowers and sell them to the next group of tourist that come through. So after that, you turn two corners and there is the body. He is in this dark room in a glass case with a bright ass light shining on his face. He looks kind of scary. You can only get about 5 feet next to him. I didn’t have my glasses and I have only seen pictures of this man. But he didn’t look like the Mao Ze Dong from the pictures. And he didn’t look real. We all think it was a fake and the real Mao Ze Dong is buried in the ground some where. I mean it has to be against some Chinese custom or something to not bury people. I mean putting them on display like has to break some Chinese traditional code or something. So, I am pretty sure it was a fake, like a wax body or clay or something else that you can make fake bodies out of. I would like to show you pictures but they don’t allow you take picture of the body. Probably because then people would really know it was a fake.

After seeing the body we went to a Muslim Mosque. The Muslim Mosque looked a lot like the Buddhist and Daoist temples that I have already been to. The name of the place is “Niu Jie Mosque.” It is a really famous Mosques in China and against the world. Apparently Mohammad Ali has been there. So guess it is pretty famous. The best part of the Mosque was when this Chinese guy started calling everybody to come and pray. He was singing something I could not understand, Clark has it on video, but It was really cool because everyone started to gather behind him and it sounded beautiful. As he was finishing every started to go and begin there praying ceremony. I don’t feel that my words can really explain how cool it was to see. Maybe if Clark ever decides he wants to post a blog, he might be able to describe the experience a little better.

Well after going to the Mosque we went to this Muslim restaurant nearby. The only reason I want to describe it is because we ordered this dish that we have never tried before and I want to remember the name. Normally when we go out we order a dish called Gong Bao Ji Ding (Kong Pow Chicken) and we are all sick of eating it because we have it almost everyday. But today we had a new dish, called Jiang Bao Ji Ding. I don’t think that you can get this stuff in the States, it is hella good though. Another thing about the food here that has really surprised me, is that I have not seen one egg roll since I have been here. At home when I think of Chinese food, I think of fried rice and egg rolls. But I guess that is a Chinese American thing. Who would have thought.

Something you guys should know, because maybe you don’t know this. But because the Chinese government has some conspiracy against our blog: Clark, Golze, and I can not see the comments that you write. So if you read our blogs and have interesting comments that you want us to respond to. Maybe you should email us. Because right now, I know that like only three people read our blogs.

And another thing that you should know is that, I keep a dollar worth of dimes, because pimpin’, it ain’t easy.

Are you serious

I have great news, everyday my la duzi is getting better and better. Even my appetite has increased a lot. In no time I will be able to gain back all those pounds I lost. Pretty soon my belly will be as big as my dad’s.

On an unrelated topic, something in China that I have seen quite often and I think I will never be able to get used to are kids on the street doing Da Bian (dropping a duce). It is the weirdest thing. All of a sudden you will be walking and there will this kid right in front of you doing Da Bian. The little kids here wear split pants; those are pants with big splits in the back, just for this purpose. I guess Huggies are too expensive or something. And one thing I don’t understand is how do these little kids, literally, not freeze their butts off with those big splits in the back of their pants. Because I have no holes in my clothes and I am freezing whenever I go outside. Even though this is weird, I have seen an even weirder version of this scenario. I was walking. Not really paying attention to what I was doing. When suddenly I almost bump into this little kid. She was squatting over a newspaper in the middle of the street. And I thought who she is paper-trained. They paper train kids here like they are dogs. I could not believe it. But thinking back, if you can train a little kid to use the bathroom on a newspaper, why can’t you train them to use the bathroom on the toilet? This is a conundrum. I guess it comes down to an old ancient Chinese proverb, “one newspaper equals a hundred toilets”.

This experience with these little kid reminds me of my friend, Caitlin. What's up Caitlin this is your shot out.

Well, so what have I been up to? I guess the answer to that question is absolutely nothing. I tried to see Mao Ze Dong’s body but the place was closed. If you don’t know who Mao Ze Dong is, you need to read a book. But today I plan to go see the body again. I report on how it looks when I come back.

This is Ma Du from China. Over and out.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

"more like the south gate to freeze-ville..."

so i'm trying to remember where i left off. i guess i hadn't started climbing the mountain yet. so, the five of us set off up the hill at a leisurely pace. here's a picture of our friend/guide at the lower part of the "trail," which is actually a well maintained stone path.

at this point we're resting near the jing shiyu i believe it's called, which is a series of Daoist riddles carved into a rock face near a stream. even our guide couldn't read most of it, cause it was written so long ago, so i have no idea what it says, but those Daoists are known to be crafty devils. there are these types of things carved all along the path, none of which i can read.

this next picture is taken at the half-way point, appropriately titled "halfway gate to heaven." you can see a slight discoloration in the saddle in the mountains beyond. that is where the road leads. here it started to get a bit cold and a bit windy. but we were still pretty warm from climbing so much.

in the states, if someone builds a trail up a mountain they use switchbacks, and a lot of them, to make the slope a bit easier. in canada, they perhaps put one switchback in where we would use twenty. in china, they just build a big freakin' staircase. the following picture shows the part of the trail called shiba wan, which means eighteen turns, but they use the term "turn" losely here. it climbs about 600 meters in what is essentially a straight shot to the south gate to heaven.

now i consider myself a pretty accomplished hiker, but this mountain absolutely killed me. here is the four of us looking happy and warm and without a clue of the horrors that would await us at the top.

my pictures at the top are few and far between, as i tried to avoid taking my hands out of my gloves as much as possible. it was damn cold. we stopped at a restaurant at the top for a bite to eat and to warm up (there's essentially a city up there). they brought out some dishes that could be considered lukewarm at best, but were still steaming because it was so cold. the china has some pretty nasty loos, and tai shan was no exception. let's just say that if they weren't heating the restaurant, they definitely weren't heating the bathrooms, which means no running water. for at least two months. in any event, here's on of the pictures from the top.

so we descended in a rush, or as fast as possible without destroying our knees. at the bottom, hai miao took us to a restaurant he knew to kill time and eat dinner before our train came. hai miao is a muslim, so we went to a xinjiang restaurant (xinjiang is the western-most semi-autonomous province in china). interesting note, when the four of us walking in the restaurant, the owner thought we were all from xinjiang, because the natives there look vaugely eurasian. in any event, here is a picture of trevor eating a chicken head. he had lost some sort of contest but i don't remember what it was.

so we eventually ditched a the restaurant and camped out in the local KFC, where we had ice cream. the vanilla flavor in china is not actually vanilla at all, but tastes vaugely of soybeans. i actually prefer it to regular vanilla. at that point, one of the guys looked at his ticket and realized that the date printed was for the next night. we freaked out but hai miao quickly assured us that it only said that because they were student tickets, so we could travel on either day. we headed over to the train station to wait for the train. our plan, since we had standing tickets, was to sit in the dining car and eat very very slowly, but we got to the car and found all the conducters sitting there. they said they had a soft sleeper available. now that is the way to travel. you get your own compartment with four beds. so we crashed for seven hours, got back to beijing, and i promptly fell asleep again for another seven hours. i'll be honest, i'm getting tired of all this typing so i'll just leave it at that. if you have any questions, send me an e-mail.

Love, BEN

p.s. clark says he hates you all.
oh yeah, by climbing tai shan, legend has it that i'll live to be 100. how's that for an accomplishment while abroad?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

How Could This Have Happened?

Yesterday I shaved my head and my face for the first time in a long time. After looking in the mirror, I realized how skinny have gotten because I have not been eating and I have been walking everywhere. If you have ever seen the movie fight club, there is this seen where is in the aid comfort group and there is this girl dying of aids and all see wants to do is hook up one last time. Well, I look like that girl. My face is so skinny now, I kind of look like a whole different person, but in a bad way because I look sickly. This weather has not helped my skin complexion at all. I am already really light but now I look pale. But, on a good note, my la duzi is almost gone. I have been able to eat more and more so I probably will gain all this weight back pretty quickly. So don’t even trip, I am doing fine.

So what have I been up to lately, let me think. Oh Sunday! Sunday I went to eat an American breakfast with Clark, Cahill, Jamie, and Joy. It was so good too. Even though my pancakes were burn, the milk taste like cream, and it was really expensive, it was still all worth it. It was so good eating American food. When the syrup hit my lips, oh gosh, I was in heaven. I really miss Middlebury’s weekend brunch. If I could bring one thing to China it would be Middlebury’s weekend brunch. I didn’t realized just how much I missed American food until I went there. I mean, I was missing it, but that just made realize how eating Chinese good everyday is going to start to get tiresome. But what can you do? So anyway after breakfast we went to this ancient Chinese observatory. It was a place in ancient times where they looked at the stars. The place could have been really interesting but all the signs for everything was in Chinese, so I did not really now what I was looking at. But it seemed like some pretty cool stuff. And the signs that were in English, they were using really big words so I did not understand. Right now I my English, if I am lucky, might be at a fourth grade level. But I have no real use for English anyway. After the observatory, Clark, Cahill and I went to this place called Bai Yun Yuan (White Could Temple). Joy and Jamie went to the hospital but that is their story. All I have to say is there is karma in the world. It was a pretty cool place. It might have to be the world’s best Daoist Temple. But Clark, told me like anyone could even know that. Clark’s a jerkface. Anyway, this Temple had a lot statues, paintings, and buildings. It was like most other temples but with a Daoist feel to it, kind like you might have found back in the hippy era. It was interesting though. If I learn how to put pictures on this thing you might get see some of this cool stuff. But that will probably never happen. On our way out of the temple we met this Chinese guy and I think his girl friend, she didn’t really talk to use. This Chinese guy was hella nice. He just started having a conversation with us about China and America. As we were walking we told him we were going to the Subway, but he was like no don’t do that because the subway is hella far and the stop we were going to get off at is hella far from our school. So he showed us how to catch the bus. I have to say the Chinese people are so nice. I know I would not have done something like that, but hey that’s just me. I am just like that. After leaving there we went back to CET and meet up with Clark’s roommate and Wang Wei Feng. We all went to eat Hou Guo (Hot Pot). It is this thing that has a spicy side and not spicy side and you dip raw meet in it and let it cook and soak up all the flavor. It was really good. But the best part of the story is the next day. When Cahill and Clark got sick. I say this because I am not a mean person. But Clark and Cahill have been making fun of me ever since I have gotten la duzi. And now finally they are feeling the effects and that is so great. I love karma. So that was Sunday.

On Monday, Jamie and I went to the flag ceremony at Tiananmen Square. Let me tell you, it was freaking freezing. I thought my hands were going to fall off. These gloves that I bought in China are no help against the cold. The only reason I bought these things, is because they were the only gloves in China that fit my hands. Other than the fact they fit on my hands, I probably would not really call them gloves. These gloves could not even keep a cool breeze out. So anyway it was freezing. I think the best part about us going to Tiananmen was the way the cab driver ripped us off. I don’t know for sure if he ripped us off but I am pretty sure that he “GuYi RaoDao”(took us the long way) us. I swear it should have been a 15-minute cab ride, but it was more like 30 minutes. The second best part us going to Tiananmen was the fact that we got there an early to stand in the cold and wait for the flag ceremony to start. The reason that we got there so early was that one of the Chinese roommates told us that the thing start at 4:30 but it really started at 5:30. This is also the reason that we jump in a cab because we thought we were going to be late. Unfortunately we weren’t. However, I must say that once the ceremony started it was kind of cool. Like 20 Chinese army men march out of Tiananmen gate with their guns and all marching to the same beat. And I know this sounds bad, but they all look the same. They are all the same height and all their clothes are perfectly in place. When they take flag down and tie it is the best part, because they do it so quickly and tie the flag in some type of super not that I can’t even explain. This ceremony takes place everyday at sundown and sunrise. So if you are ever in Beijing, I think it is something that is worth seeing.