Adventures of a third grader in Beijing for a year. All about having fun in China, the land and its geography, history and politics, and visiting China’s different regions and peoples. Do shadow puppetry, ride a camel in the Gobi, make dumplings on a farm, and cheer for the Guoan (World Peace) soccer team.
Beijing is so dry, you’ll see people standing beside humidifiers rubbing mist on their faces. So while Guangzhou, in the south, may be best known for its adjacency to the Special Economic Zones, the first areas permeated by capitalism with Chinese characteristics, we were loving the jungle plants & moisture.
Although Ethan, playing with a 2-foot wide leaf straight out of Jurassic Park, had an allergic reaction where all his skin began itching badly. Luckily, mom’s purse contains antihistamines–that’s why they call it ‘the ambulance.’
My host from the J-school, which offers courses in international reporting and multimedia, was incredibly gracious. About 300 students came to hear about Writing Better and the U.S. Media Crisis. Two questions from the Q&A (I paraphrase): “How can we get the government to stop controlling the media?” and “How will your government’s control of the media affect this year’s U.S. presidential elections?”
We squeezed in a bit of tourism, though the traffic was so bad we didn’t do much. It’s a giant city of about 13 million, home to the world’s tallest structure, a radio tower. The exhibition center was bigger than an airport. It has some pretty leftovers from the foreign occupiers and is said to have a strong international influence but it struck us as a very typical modern Chinese megalopolis…in the jungle.
Fantastic spending time with fellow Fulbrighter (art historian and Americanist) Amy Werbel and Fred Lane, and young Graham (fluent Mandarin speaker). They helped us reflect on how our perceptions of China, and we, have changed this year, and what Chinese habits we might like to adopt. Taking up less space…napping instead of caffeinating…lowering the volume of family – uh – discussions.
More on that soon.
Friday Day 1: Today we left for Hong Kong at 5 in the morning. I could hardly wait. We arrive din Hong Kong at 11:30. WE had lunch at a Yunnanese place but we didn’t know that until after we got our food.
Next we went to the famous escalator and went up the mountain. After that we went down the mountain to find the trolley. We got a little lost so we had to take a taxi to the Peak Tram. The tram goes to the top of the mountain. Here’s a fun fact: the tram has been working for one century. At the top we bought ice cream. It was too bad that we could not see the full view because it was fogged in.
Then we met my mom’s friend from when she was 28 years old and we had Cantonese food.
Saturday Day 2: We woke up and I read. At about 10 o’clock we finally left for the fishing village but at the bus station we had to wait quite a while so we decided to go somewhere else. We spent a little time on the beach. There were some really cool islands with mountains on them. AFter that we went to a pretty small shrine on the beach that had a folklore village god. After that we looked at a town Shek O a bit. Then we left for Stanley Market and looked at a few stalls. Then we had lunch at Stanley Beach Market. I had a MacDaddy hamburger with onion rings. We took a bus back along really steep cliffs.
The bus dropped us off by the harbor so we went to Kowloon. In Kowloon, we did the Chinese Walk of Fame. (The Walk of Fame is a walk on the harbor with stars an din them the name of famous movie stars from Hong Kong.) Then we went to the History Museum. In the History Museum there was an exhibit about the people who used to live in Hong Kong. That night we went out on the water in a ferry to see it lit up. It was really cool.
Sunday Day 3: We woke up and had some dim sum. In the dim sum there was a kind of puffy croissant which inside had lots of melted cheese and it was delicious. Then we went to a temple and saw some cool Taoist gods. Then we went to a mall that was in an old building (Western Market). Then we took a train to Guangzhou, a city in Guangdong that my mom’s work colleague teaches at. When we got there it was dinner time so we had dinner with one of the professors (aka my mom’s work colleague). We had a big feast. Then we went to bed at the university hotel.
Monday Day 4: A student picked us up and took us to Xiamien Island and I have a little joke: Lets go have some ramien in Xiamien. Ramien is how you say ramen in Chinese. Xiamien Island has a lot of old European consulates and estates. We saw some 5-year old girls practicing a kind of a dance. Then we played ping pong with a real kind of coach and don’t tell my mom, I had some Coca Cola. That night we walked to a beautiful restaurant in the jungle and had another huge feast and it was good.
Tuesday Day 5: We woke up and did the breakfast routine except this time we left for Chongqing. When we got to Chongqing it was already lunchtime so we went to a very good Chinese food place and had a very good lunch with my mom’s friend. My mom thought I was drinking whiskey when I was only drinking water. After lunch my mom had to do a lecture so me and my brother played ping pong with some students. One of them is better than the professional Chinese players. Soon it was dinner time. We had dinner at the same place we had lunch and then we took a tour on the side of the river (Jialing and Yangtze) at night.
Wednesday Day 6: We woke up and had breakfast. Then we went to 宝顶(Baodingshan), Buddha caves where a monk carved lots of Buddhas. The Boadingshan grottoes were the latest grottoes to be made in China. They are about 800 years old. It is really easy to see the detail in the carvings’ faces. The caves are in the mountains, there’s lots of bamboo growing.
Next we had lunch. Then my mom had a short lecture at Southwest University. I played ping pong with my brother and some students. Soon after we had hot pot for dinner. I liked it. Then my mom lectured again and here I am writing this in the hotel.
Thursday Day 7: We woke up and had breakfast then we went to Chongqing old town in the rain. In Chongqing old town there’s a temple that has a pagoda. Me and my brother climbed it. On each floor there’s a bell. We rung the bell but only on one floor was there actually a ringer and it wasn’t tied to a rope, it was just leaning against a wall so you had to hold it up but it was surprisingly light.
Next my mom had yet another lecture. While my mom was lecturing, me and my brother payed the Miniclip game “Deep Freeze.” Next we had a 17-course rushed meal, emphasis on rushed.
Then we went to the building that’s built on a hill so even when you’re on the 12th floor you’re still on the ground.
Then we flew home to Beijing.