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Busy Busy Busy

Between Being Lazy and Well, Being Lazy, I've Found Sometime for Being Busy

snow -4 °C

Upon arriving, I was bound and determined to defeat the beasts known jointly as "sloth" and "comfort". I wanted to get out as often as possible and to explore the city that I had not seen much of, despite living here for nearly 5 months. This mindset lasted all of a week, when I realized how damn cold it is outside. Also, despite the festive nature of the holiday, Chinese New Year threw a large, rabbit sized wrench in my plans when it closed down most of the city and drove nearly 10 million of Beijing's 20 something million people out of the city, back to their native provinces.

A quick word on Chinese new year. For those of you who have never lived through a war, or Chinese new year festivities, they are essentially one in the same. Imagine 10 million people all blowing up whatever they can get their hands on, all at the same time. I was actually kind of scared initially, as it sounded like the city was under air strike, falling down around me, or a combination of the two. Four year olds are given an armful of explosives that would easily be illegal in the states, a lighter, told to stand right there, RIGHT THERE (easily within 25 meters of the fireworks stand by the way), and they go to town, laughing all the time and miraculously not managing to blow off a finger. You, the innocent passing laowai, in the meantime, are robbed of your hearing for the next 10 minutes, and are wondering who ever thought this was a good idea. Mischievous teenagers and old men light black cats and M-150s and throw them under cars or under vendor carts and scuttle away (or stand there and mutter/yell obscenities), laughing at the unfortunate bloke who never saw it coming. After shock, wonder, and awe rubbed off, general annoyance set in. Yeah, fireworks are cool! Yeah, our New Years celebration lasts a day or so max, but do the Chinese know how to throw a party...a week of explosions (and stores being closed) gets old very fast. Like by day 3. That would be when my general malaise set in by the way.

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(Pictures of fireworks never turn out too terribly well, but there you go!)

So what have I actually done?

Well, I lived an entire semester across from the National Zoo, but never went. So the FIRST thing I thought I owed to myself was to go to the Zoo! Note on going to the Zoo when it's 18 degrees outside. Don't do it. I was so cold that I hurt everywhere, wanted to cry, and couldn't enjoy myself. I hit the biggest attractions, including the Pandas (of course), and hightailed it out of there before the sun went down and it got even colder, rejoicing when I hit the relative warmth of the subway. I'll tell you what, when even the jam packed subway, with hundreds of bodies huddled together like sardines in a can, is still cold, that's a sign of a miserable day. I'll go back when it's warmer, but here are the few pictures I was able to get that day.

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So before I made it to the zoo, I had to buy a camera. I went to Wangfujing to get my camera, and since I was there, I decided I would go to the famous (or perhaps infamous) snack street. No, I did not eat scorpions or starfish or squirrels, but I did take pictures of the wonderful delicacies that vendors offer for the unsuspecting foreigners. And trust me, it is only foreigners that are foolish enough to partake of these "snacks".

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While I was on a roll of doing things while it was bitingly cold outside, I made it over to the Temple of Heaven. The complex is gorgeous, and there is so much to explore. And it is expansive. Even filled tourists it feels empty, I could have spent much more time there. Compared to the other days, it was a practically 45F balmy outside, and I felt overdressed. Halfway through my sightseeing adventure, I started sweating through my scarf and jacket, so I did what anyone would do, and used my scarf as a belt instead. Not that it did much, but it helped.

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Now, you can live in Beijing and not go to the Olympic Park. Or maybe you can. You can at least put it off for 5 months or so. But really, it's not that much to see. And when it's cold outside (ok, forgive me for complaining about the cold, but come on here), it's just that much more...well overrated really. That day also had pretty heavy winds, so I didn't spend as long as perhaps I would have liked at the complex. It's kind of eerie; an expansive, sprawling, empty display of wealth and power put on by the Chinese government. Oh wait. Also, I remember all this uproar about the design of the Olympic complex throwing off the feng shui of Beijing. I have two bones to pick with this. One: What, the Soviet, proletariat, mao block feng shui of Beijing? We have a problem with this? Two: In the rapid modernization process leading up to the 2008 Olympics, a wealth of buildings were erected, from the Modern and Avante Guarde to the down right weird, very few I'm guessing fit in with the "feng shui" of the city.

Like this IBM building for example!
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So after that I didn't really do much by way of getting out of the hostel. Laid around for a few days, read a few books, watched a few anime series. When you have nearly a month to do whatever you want to do, you don't do anything. That seems to be the way of things. Kenny and I celebrated New Years how all good Texans should, with Mexican food (or as close as Beijing gets) and a few drinks. I shot off a few fireworks with people in the hostel (and nearly blew off my hand in the process, but that's a different story). The people here in the hostel are really cool and/or interesting. Most of them are either European/Australian. I've had a few good conversations, but mostly I keep to myself (this IS me we are talking about, I'm not exactly the social butterfly). Nick finally got back to Beijing after traveling around the south of China, and we had a great day hanging around (and got Mexican food again) with Kenny. We spent the night in the apartment that Kenny is staying at in west Beijing (aka the Sticks). We spent the night playing CIV and watching Starcraft and DOTA on TV (because they televise that kind of stuff here in China). Overall, this past week or so has been really chill, and I prefer it that way. Not much is going on because everything is closed, everyone is gone, and it's too damn cold to do anything.

And then, TODAY IT SNOWED!!!

Finally, after an entire dry winter, it snowed, what I have been waiting for. It snowed in Texas before it snowed here. I was thinking I actively repel snow. But no! I was laying in bed, half asleep, and I hear one of my roommates exclaim "Holy cow, guys wake up, it's snowing outside!". I was instantly a little kid again. I bounced out of bed, got dressed, and made my way out for the day. I didn't even bother with taking a shower or anything. I haven't been that excited since I arrived in Beijing. I did exactly what it was I said I would do when it snowed in Beijing, I went to the Forbidden City, and man was it worth it! It was gorgeous (if not freezing).
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无产阶级万岁! (Long live the Proletariat!)
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These Pics are at Tiananmen, right outisde Mao's Mausoleum
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Well, that's it for my adventures so far. I have 6 days left until orientation and classes resume. I'm looking forward to the structure again. I'm kind of going crazy with nothing to do but lay in bed, read, watch TV, and play CIV all day. I'm the kind of person who needs structure and something to do in order to be happy. I like other people telling me what to do, if only so I can argue with them ;) In other news, I will be teaching English as well this semester, I want other things to be keeping me busy on top of my classwork. I know, watching my health should be a full time job for me, but I'm hoping to bring in some extra cash for my traveling/clothes addictions (I found a Fossil store here in the Sanlitun Village...I am one word...Screwed). On top of that, I'd like to start an Internship/Volunteer job with the American Embassy, if for nothing more than to start building contacts here in Beijing. The purpose for that is so that I can stay through the summer with a paid position in order to earn and save money (and again, build my network). So, the sooner the ball gets moving on all that, the better.

Until next time, 兔年快乐! 慢慢走! (Happy Year of the Rabbit! Walk Slowly!)

Posted by SavCamp 23:31 Archived in China Tagged snow temple of zoo city hostel youth heaven cold tiananmen forbidden sanlitun

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Nice hat! Bring me one if they have them my size.
(You got some Oreo or something on your face :-) )

by 父亲的旅行者

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