I an effort to keep you all up to date on what is going on, I will write about our experiences of the last couple of days for the next half hour. This way, I cannot go too much into details about lots of minutia. I will not go into how Haga yelled and cursed at a tour-guide scum bucket while I kept my cool. I will not tell you about the ghetto place he tricked us to going to, and will not tell you about how we ditched the tour-guide (whom we hired because we thought we were just hiring a driver for the day). I will not brag about how I used my charm in negotiating to get a pretty wool coat for $20 (one of my comments: “Don’t tell me she looks pretty in the coat. She does not need this coat to look pretty. She is pretty no matter what she wears. She is even prettier if she wears nothing!”) I will not spend my time trying to approximate what Beijing accent sounds like in English (although I am going to imitate Beijing accent every day now, just for the hell of it). I will not talk about the Beijing Roast Duck – you saw pictures of that. I will not talk to you about the Beijing noodle house we went to – I already talk about noodles too much. And I will not talk to you about Haga’s obsession with steamed bread buns. So what is left to talk about?
First of all, Beijing is a ghetto compared to Shanghai. Period. People are poorer. They don’t dress as well. They have not developed more sophisticated manners. There are no 7-11s on every corner. But the worst thing of all…
The bathrooms in the foreign student dormitory at Beijing University have not changed. They smell and there is no toilet paper.
Haga does not think this is a big deal because she thinks she is tough. She isn’t bothered by little things like the condition of the toilets. This is a very important thing for me. Toilet condition is a representation of a countries march towards civilization and progress.
OK. Enough about the toilets at BeiDa. The rest of Beijing University is prettier. The lawns are better cared for. The surrounding lakes have been drained, which is a major bummer. The No-Name Lake is still there and very pretty. And the only 5 reasonably attractive girls at BeiDa were seen walking around the lake with their geeky boyfriends. We ate at a Beijing food restaurant in the University. The food was soo salty it made me sick.
In Fall of 1991, I attended Beijing University. It was my first time out of the US and I was clueless and a little scarred. BeiDa was not a friendly place and I think I didnâ€™t have the social skills needed to find good Chinese friends. At the No-Name Lake is a stone boat. On that boat, during the Moon festival in October of 91, I sat with a bunch of Chinese students, who sang beautiful Chinese acoustic rock songs for hours. The moon was beautiful; I could see the pagotta reflected on the lake. It was the first (and one of a few) time that I felt strong connection with Chinese people. The next day, the school administration made a regulation forbidding singing on the boat by the lake.
We ate ShuangYangRou, which is “swished lamb meat”. Picture is below. Basically, we dipped thinly sliced pieces of lamb in a boiling broth. Then we ate the pieces of lamb. And we drank a lot of Beijing city beer while we ate the lamb. With some raw garlic on the side.
We saw the Great Wall. I don’t know why we wanted to see it again. Its just one of those things you do when you travel to Beijing I guess. We got a lot of exercises out of this. The first time we went to Great Wall – in October of 91 – , Haga didn’t know me – but she wanted to know me. She didn’t like the fact that I was flirting with other girls- I have a picture of me with this Peruvian chick, with Haga in the background giving her the evil eye. The second time we went – in April of 92 – I was mad at Haga because I thought she was flirting with me, but didn’t want to have a real relationship with me. So I ignored her and she decided to hit me and poke fun at me because I ignored her. Later that night was the first time we really kissed (besides the kiss I gave her on the cheek next to Ronald McDonald outside of McD’s on its opening day in Beijing). This time we were together. It was fun. And a lot of exercise. We took the roller-coaster train back from the top of the wall to the parking lot. That was fun too.
We went to the Temple of Heaven park. That was fun. Very pretty. OK. So Beijing is not as developed as Shanghai. But Beijing has some good parks. And Beijing people are cooler…but that’s probably because they have less money. Temple of Heaven part was filled with old people who were reading plays, dancing, practicing TaiJiChuan, playing badmiton. Playing traditional instruments. And sitting around being Altakakas (that’s Yiddish for old people that sit around on benches talking all day).
We went to a bunch of markets. Everyone calls for me; “Hel-lo”. “Comeheretakealook”. “goodpricelooklook”. The fact that they call me does not bother me. But they have really freaky voices when they call out in English.