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Useful resources for learning about contemporary China:

 English language Sinica Podcast

James Fallows - not always China-related, but always interesting

What's going on in Beijing:

TimeOut Beijing

The Beijinger

China Daily's Beijing Weekend 

Beijing Weather - Weather Underground

 

Useful language learning tools

Chinesepod podcast - free beginners' podcasts

Popup Chinese podcast - another very good podcast series

Hacking Chinese - interesting ideas on learning Chinese efficiently

Skritter character-learning tool for iPad/iPhone - really fun app

Sinosplice - John Pasden's site on many interesting aspects of China and the Chinese language

 

 

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Sunday
May062012

5/5/12 The Forbidden City 

We started our day with meeting our Chinese counterparts at the subway station. We originally planned to ride the subway to the North entrance of the city, but the plans changed and we rode the bus to the South side. Upon arriving, we soon learned that a lot had changed and you could no longer enter the city from the South end. Therefore, in 90 degree weather, we walked thirty minutes around the outside of the surrounding wall to get to the entrance. Next, Kai had to buy tickets and as we waited it seemed as though Chelsea, Kendra, and Amber were celebrities because everyone kept take pictures with them. Finally, once we went into the city it was absolutely breathtaking! We spent about 2 hours exploring the quarters of Ancient China's past emperors. We saw the sleeping quarters for the empresses and concubines. One of the buildings was used at one point for solely a changing room for the emperor. At the end was a beautiful garden with ponds that some of us threw coins in for good luck. Once we were finished viewing the Forbidden City, we ventured out into the surrounding neighborhood to find lunch. We walked a little ways from the subway station and found a quaint restaurant on the side of the street to have white rice, eggplant, sizzling bbq chicken (kind of), sweet and sour pork chicken and spinach. 

 

We headed back to the Red Lantern to rest a bit after our excursion/journey. Then around 6ish we decided to eat local at a "mom and pop's spot" in a dark alley. We ended up having dumplings for the 6th time with a variety of pork, beef and other substances. The owner kept cooking us these dumplings despite the fact that everyone was pretty much done after 2 servings. After dinner we all chose to head back and "chill" after a long day of walking for miles. 

Several of us stayed up and had some interesting conversations with locals outside of Red Lantern. Enough said. See video for more details. 

Wednesday
May022012

5/2/12: Silk Market and BNU

So today, some of us went out again to get breakfast for the group. For those of us who made the trip, we went down the street and around the corner to get some youtiao, which are deep fried strips of dough. They are pretty good, but we didn't have soy milk to eat it with, which I've heard goes well with this food.

For the rest of the morning, we were given free time to explore Beijing on our own. As a group, we decided to go to the Silk Market, which is a giant shopping center filled with pretty much anything you'd want to buy.

We split off into smaller groups once we arrived, and some of us were able to bargain very well (along with the help of a native Chinese speaker for one group) and bought a lot of neat things at amazing prices, while some of us were not so lucky. Here are some of the things that we saw there...


lots of scarves...


and shoes...


and people who are ready to lure you in...


and even a whole section dedicated to PANDAS!

After we (Octavia, Martha, Jill, Yuanyuan, and Melissa) were done bargaining, we decided to go out for lunch. We looked around outside for some good places to eat and came upon a restaurant with the name of something along the lines of "Yummy Family Dishes" and decided to give it a go. It was a good decision. We ordered eggs, green beans, chicken, and West Lake beef soup, and everything was delicious! We'd recommend this place to anyone who goes to this city.

After getting lunch, we met up with the rest of the group, who then decided to go eat lunch. Later on, we all came back to the Red Lantern House and headed over to Beijing Normal University together. On our trip there, we initially got on the wrong bus, then had to wait forever for the right bus, which then turned out to be really packed. We survived the long bus ride and made it to the university though. The campus is really beautiful, and the buildings look really nice. The dining halls are different there too. We each received a meal card preloaded with money, and instead of buffet-style, they charge us for each item we order and we just swipe our card to pay. After dinner, we took a look at the gym and then eventually met up with our Chinese counterparts at BNU. They had us play a game to get to know each other, and we pretty much all ended up doing something funny or showed off a talent. We even got both professors to sing songs, and overall we had a fun time meeting the other students. 

We all came back pretty tired, and most of us are either already asleep or are about to sleep. I'd say it was a pretty successful and eventful day and looking forward to what tomorrow brings!

Tuesday
May012012

5/1/12

After breakfast on Tuesday, we set off on our adventure of the day.  We had a short walk and then a subway ride before we made it to the Lama Temple.  The Lama Temple is a religious site with lots of giant Buddha statues, and many people around us took part in the practice of paying homage to the Buddha with three incenses.  The picture below shows the largest Buddha statue in the temple.  



The next picture shows our whole group here Tuesday (Tiffany, Melissa, Jill, Christina, Martha, Octavia, Mandy, Chelsea, Emily, Kendra, and Eric) at the temple.  After leaving the temple, we ate a quick lunch of chicken and rice before heading back to our hotel.  Some of us ventured off without Kevin to get money and ice cream.



Some other members of our group arrived in the evening, and we headed out to dinner just down the street from our hotel.  Most of the dishes included some type of lamb.  A picture of our group at dinner is below.  After dinner, we all came back to the hotel to figure out what to do with our free time tomorrow!

 

Monday
Apr302012

Breakfast!

This morning Octavia, Christina, and Kevin went out to get breakfast for everyone. At a restaurant we bought baozi (pronounced bowd-za) which is similar to a steamed dumpling with beef or pork and onions inside. At another store, we bought fried versions of baozi and jain bing. Jain bing (pronounced jen bing) is a crepe with a fried egg and cracker inside along with various sauces and herbs. 
This picture shows the baozi being made at the restaurant. 
This is where we bought the jain bing and the fried baozi. 
Here is everyone eating breakfast at the Red Lantern House!
Monday
Apr302012

First day's trip

We went on our first outing, around the lakes (Xi Hai, Qian Hai, Hou Hai) near our hotel. It was more crowded than I've seen before, presumably because of the May Day holiday that was just starting. I'm posting some pictures from our lunch, taken by Christina. One of our group, who can identify herself or not as she prefers, ate fish for the first time (not just fish with a head, but fish at all) and survived admirably. I'm posting some pictures of the fishermen on the lake, a

 


 perplexed looking Martha Alves with the drum tower (or maybe it's the bell tower) in the background, and the afore-mentioned fish.