Oct '05 - Jan '07
China: Day 1
What day is this? Somewhere between the 24th and 25th of November . . . in the year 2005. Lost within symbols I cannot even begin to understand. Maybe context is a clue, but I am not even sure I can assume that either.
We arrive at Beijing International, go through customs . . . CHINESE NATIONALS and FOREIGNERS . . . I feel welcome already! Eventually everyone goes through and we finally emerge from the multi-temporal (or temporally void, take your pick) space of the airport to real time China. Beautiful day, sunny, warm.
The bus arranged by Chi takes us to the China Academy for Fine Arts, where we will be staying. This is a pretty impressive place. Not because of the architecture, which is fairly stark, but because it is a massive campus for fine arts.
We find our accommodations, and some set out to find beers. They do. 4 Yuan each. If that is any indication to the price of the alcohol around here, this group, and possibly some of the Chinese we come in contact with, maybe in trouble.
Others from the group ended up picking up a game of basketball with some of the students. This game was funny to watch because it was mostly defense. Usually it was towering Kristoff or Victor stuffing the hell out of these Chinese guys. Pretty entertaining to watch both sides try to make a basket.
Eventually, we meet with the director of the architecture school. He gave us a tour of the campus which I am not sure we were in the correct condition to admire. We were wicked jet lagged. I guess the one thing that kept me going was pure fascination, oh, and the fact that I knew Tom had to give a lecture this evening.
After this tour, we left to eat some extremely spicy stuff. I say stuff, because some of it was just simply not edible by me. It was not so much the taste as it was the texture that really did it to me. People tell me they do not like flan because of the texture, and I think they are crazy. I am starting to understand those people as I pop a pig's ear into my mouth. There was other food that was pretty damn good. Look at this picture and tell me how much we paid for this meal? Keep in mind that there were 4 tables, and each of us had their fare share of beer and ergwoto (spelling?), a clear spirit that is close enough to pure alcohol.
On our walk back to see Tom's lecture, I see what at first I thought was a playground. But this was after dark, not many light, and people were there. As I approached, I could see that these were not children, but adults, usually older adults too. This was a park for exercising. I hopped onto something like the Tony Little Gazelle, except without the arm things, and each leg could swing independently of the other. There was another woman on the 2nd set, so I joined her. She began to match her pace with mine, and we swung in perfect union for a few minutes. Around me people were doing push ups, sit-ups, and using the various other contraptions to keep fit. Sorry, no specific image, but here is Tony Little:
We get to the lecture and there is Tom . . . interpreter next to him. I seriously hurt inside watching it. The interpreter would just trample all over Tom's words. It was very uncomfortable, and Tom could have used a good night's sleep.
After this we were off to Huhai. This is a lake with bars and such . . . a sort of mini Vegas, complete with casinos and prostitution. Weird bars selling only American beer and playing American music . . . I guess we asked for it didn't we? This strange half band playing Shania Twain. Definitely an interesting place. Prostitution, pirate DVDs, people dancing outside, drinking. We danced with some Chinese girls at the last bar we ended up at. At first they would enter our dance circle, then they would get ashamed and cover their faces, then they would go CRAZY go nuts!
Getting home was forgettable . . . literally, I fell asleep. Apparently our taxi driver got lost and we paid double which was still cheap. Sleep was great. Tomorrow to the great wall!