Sunday, August 16, 2009

Wow, it's over

I said I would write 2 posts this week, but I didn't anticipate how busy I would be. I just finished packing and I don't think I'll be overweight, so that's a relief. But I'm not sure. I'm definitely ready to go home.

Things I'll miss about China:
-saying certain Chinese expressions and words that I use all the time, which no one will be able to understand in the US
-meeting Europeans
-eating at restaurants every night, Chinese style, for 8 kuai (about a dollar)
-no tax, no tipping
-all my CET friends
-speaking Chingrish

Things I can't wait to enjoy in the US:
-the beach!!
-seeing blue skies and grass
-drinking water from the tap
-being able to flush toilet paper instead of having to throw it away
-cucumbers, cheese, breakfast, steak, Mexican food
-the normal mosquitoes in Michigan, not the mutant ones here that leave huge red bumps
-my friends at home, and ANN ARBOR (and my family and cats)

On Tuesday, we went to the Forbidden City. Unfortunately it was a bit underwhelming. It could be that we'd all already seen a lot of touristy spots in Beijing and Chinese architecture starts to all look the same after a while. Or it could have just been that it was extremely hot and we were all too tired to appreciate it. Honestly, don't visit Beijing in the summer, I don't even want to imagine how hot it is in southern China. Yikes, can you tell I'm ready to come home? The Forbidden City is where the Emperors used to live, it's basically a small city unto itself. Lots of pretty buildings, ones where the Emperor lived, where the Empress lived, where they received visitors, where they waited before receiving visitors, etc.

After walking past building after building, you suddenly stumble into a really pretty garden, we all were totally caught by surprise, there were a lot of people, but Chinese gardens are just so pretty. They've always got pagodas and stone formations and green! Here are some pics of the Forbidden City:

After, we walked to Wangfujin (I'm pretty sure that's what the place is called) and did a little shopping. We stumbled upon this little street where they sold scorpions that were still alive on a stick. I didn't eat any that day, but I ate some yesterday, after they're cooked they just taste like burnt chicken skin. Unfortunately, I lost my camera, so I have to wait until my friends get their pictures up on facebook to be able to prove this. I definitely did not eat the cicadas though.

Well, speaking of losing my camera, the next day we went to the 798 Art Gallery. It's not like how you're thinking though. The whole area used to be warehouses, but now it's all a bunch of shops and different themed galleries. The shops all have hand made jewelry and other things you'd find at an art fair - and if you can speak Chinese, you can bargain. On the sides of the streets there are a lot of funny statues and graffiti on the walls. On my way home I'm pretty sure I left my camera in the taxi... major 糟糕.

Finals weren't too bad (knock on wood), but we haven't gotten them back yet, so I can't be sure. We had our final banquet on Friday and after we got our "diplomas" we counted down from 10 in Chinese and after we could speak English, it felt so weird being able to speak Chinese in the daytime without being secretive about it, usually we only ever broke the language pledge at night on weekends. Everyone enjoyed hearing how different everyone sounded speaking English instead of Chinese. Our teachers accents were so cute!

Yesterday, I paid another visit to the Silk Street, which is a misleading name because it's actually in a building above the subway stop in the area. There are about 5 or 6 floors with different stuff on each. All of the girls wanted knock-off bags first, then we hit up the silk floor above, after that we went to the jewelry floor, which is extremely dangerous because it's filled with tons of really pretty jade jewelry and other traditional Chinese-looking things - lots of chopsticks and other little knick-knacks. You gotta bargain there or else you'll get completely ripped off. The hard part is, you also have to know what kind of price is fair before hand, but none of us know that so we just play it by ear and hope we got it right. What also helps is if you return to the same place you went before to buy more - and bring a friend to buy stuff too. Speaking Chinese earns major brownie points and because you're white (or not Chinese) they remember you.

I like bringing my friend Sabrina because she really fights for her price and gets it down a lot quicker and a lot lower than I can. My style is more the make friends route, I chat them up a bit in Chinese, pretend like nothing in particular catches my eye, then casually ask how much the thing I want is. When they name the price I say, "really? too expensive..." and back away a little and look really discouraged. It usually gets them. Sabrina takes the way more confident and aggressive approach and fights with them about the price, we go shopping a lot together and I'm pretty sure all I bring to the table is diversity and a backup dictionary. She's black and I'm white with blonde hair so we're definitely a unique sight, if she doesn't understand what they're saying, maybe I did. We can also confer in English about what our plan of action is. They love fighting with her though, after she gets her price, they all laugh and call her "lihai" (terrible, amazing, strong - I think I told you guys about this word before).

Yesterday there were 2 black girls with us, Sabrina and Precious and if I thought I got stared at, they have even more of a problem, tons of people sneak pictures of them and everyone stares and we heard "hei ren" (black person/people) all the time. Some of their faces were so funny, they stare open-mouthed at them. They're both pretty tired of it, I can't imagine, I only get random people staring at me at the touristy spots because that's where a lot of the country people go to who've never seen foreigners before. If you go to Tiananmen, and you're not Asian, you will get asked to be in pictures with people. But they love blondes, redheads, and black people best.

Well, I think that's about it. This is probably my last post because I doubt anthing spectacular will happen between now and tomorrow morning, but if anything does, I can write about it in the airport. Thanks to all of you who read and commented on this, it means a lot to me and I hope you got to experience a bit of China through my blog. See you in the US. Peace out.