...in China! (...在中国!)

Friday, October 27, 2006


So, I've been in Beijing for less than 2 months and one of my best friends here is leaving for France, tomorrow morning. It really sucks. To come so far away from home, to make a very good friend only to have them leave after a short 5-6 of knowing each other. Sometimes timing in life really sucks a big one. Here's to hoping I can stay more than a year to welcome her back!

I miss you already, Amy! (And when I say "Amy", you know what word I really mean!)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Houhai Hutong Class Trip

Last Friday my Chinese language classmates and I went on a walking trip to visit some Hutong (胡同). We set out from campus at about 1pm and got to the Hutong by about 3pm or so. We walked there and were in no real hurray. It was a very nice day, not too cold, but definitely not too hot either. We stop for fruit and meat-ka-bobs at some street vendors. Mostly it was a bonding experience between classmates and the teachers that went. The Hutong are a great place to visit because they are very narrow streets that are very friendly to through traffic. So it's very nice, peaceful, and most importantly devoid of cars. Another thing I liked about the Hutong, and most side streets in China I've seen so far, is that they are so well swept. You almost never see trash on the ground, or dead leaves, or plastic wrappers. It's almost surreal at times. It's also worth noting that many areas are swept by hand, no big street sweepers. Just a guy with a cart and a large bamboo broom.

Occasionally you'll stumble upon a funny photo-op,

an eye catching scene,

or just a cool statue.

After wandering in the Hutong for some time we passed through the Lotus Market area of Houhai and ended up at a restaurant where we had a nice large meal partially paid for by the school. There were about 25-30 in our party so we basically took over the restaurant's upstairs. So many dishes were ordered. Everything was good. The dessert was a candied sweet potato. Imagine a diced and cooked sweet potato dipped in melted sugar. Crunchy outside, soft yummy inside. It was great weekend overall!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Mitch Wagner, Foreign Expert!

For any of you doubters or haters out there, I now have documented proof from a government saying that I'm an expert. [cough]Suck It![cough] No, not an expert jerk! Yes, I checked for typos!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Crowds upon crowds upon crowds.....

Last week, beginning on October 1, was China's National Day holiday. (Think Chinese July 4th) It also corresponds to Mid Autumn Day Festival. This is basically a week were a fair percentage of the country is off work and, most of them come to Beijing. The Tuesday I had a guest in town from Chicago, via Korea. We went to see many sites. Tian'anmen, Summer Palace, Great Wall at Badaling, Forbidden City, and shopping in the Wangfujing area just east of the Forbidden city. Many pictures that I hope to post at some point, if I can persuade the internet to bend to my will. Most of the sites were very scenic, which you can plainly see from the photos I've posted. Wangfujing is a pretty interesting area. Many specialized shops. (chopstick store, comb store, jewelry store, camera store etc) . And back alleys where you can haggle a pretty good deal.

At Forbidden City

On my first trip to the alleys I saw a very nice Chess set. (I had no money on me or to spare if I did!) I comment to the vendor how nice it was, how very pretty it was. His starting price was 300RMB($38 at the current conversion rate). All I could say was I had no money. He assumed that the haggling had begun. Well after a few rounds of me trying to convince him that I had no money and was walking away, the price had made it down to 10RMB ($1.25). So as you can see the prices are very flexible at times. My friends were very impressed by my haggling technique (and they are Chinese!)

You can also eat some interesting "food" in these alleys. (Deep Fried Fresh Scorpion-Ka-Bobs). I've not eaten anything too adventurous yet. But now that I've grown accustomed to the diet, I can start branching out trying more and more interesting things.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Woohoo Photos...

I've finally found a place where I can upload and host photos successfully and for free. Here is the first photo. This is a shot down the main street that runs the length of my campus. Sadly uploading photos from here is slow as ass!!!

Also. Never underestimate the power of a politely worded email to the best computer company in the world. I once again have my baby MacBook back! Now all I need is internet in my apartment and all will be well!