Friday, June 13, 2008

The End

What a melodramatic title. Anyways, yes, we are at the end of our stay in Beijing.

The last few days have been rather low-key. Despite our grand plans to make the most of the remainder of our time here, we have lapsed into much laziness, assisted by the apocalyptic weather conditions. (Yesterday Rozi and Helen and I literally waded through water that was up to six inches deep, just to get to the convenience store that is right by our dorms.) We've watched an extraordinary number of movies and not done much else. It's great.

Now I'm packing and I am not having much difficulty with luggage space limitations, because I've thrown out a good amount of clothing that has been ruined thanks to being washed in China water. I might have to throw out my Cal hat too, even though it has served me faithfully in China, because it got destroyed by Inner Mongolian duststorms and Beijing acid rain. The clothes I'm not that sad about because that means I get to do lots of shopping when I get back, and the hat, well, I am kind of sad but I think my Stanford friends will be happy to see it go. Hm - maybe it is salvageable? I'll try to wash it when I get back...

We're supposed to move out of our dorms today, but our flight isn't until tomorrow morning, so we'll be having a sleepover in the lounge. Shen Laoshi was kind enough to give us the key to the bathroom upstairs too (we normally have to go back to our rooms to use the bathroom.. very inconvenient) so the accommodations will be good. Hooray for a sleepover and more movies and not sleeping much and preemptively correcting jetlag!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Chinese Tutorial: DONE

I just finished my Chinese final and am feeling a little giddy. It was pretty catastrophic, so much that I didn't even want to look my teacher in the eye when I turned it in. Don't think I could have expected much better, though, given that I barely studied - gave up early last night, wasted time all morning (I took two naps! and read about 20 articles on the new iPhone, thanks Google Reader; and also Gtalked per usual)...

2 units, pass/fail (no letter grade option), nobody else in the class - so little motivation to do well! Taking the test felt like taking a test in high school. It was kind of awesome. Stress levels abroad are quite low :)

Sunday, June 8, 2008


The average price of gasoline in the U.S. hit $4 a gallon for the first time Sunday.

Wow. $4/gallon average. I know in Austin it's still around $3.80 and in California it's into $4.30 or something. But that's so high. What happened to the good old $0.99/gallon days....

Friday, June 6, 2008


I'm already making note of all the things I'm going to miss when I leave in a week.

Cabs everywhere, and really cheap, to take you anywhere - Beida Ximer, xiexie :) Nightlife that doesn't require you to be 21. Amazing food at restaurants like Salt and Alameda and Hatsune and Dadong. Fuwa being cute all over the city. The baozi canteen. The little convenience store that accepts fan ka so we can buy jasmine tea and ice cream and in Helen's case Ritz crackers with peanut butter. The gym, with lots of Asian people who don't really work out. Karaoke. Chilling in the Stanford lounge pretending to work while other people watch movies.

Mostly, though, I think I'll miss the people on the program. Here's to an awesome last week :) cheers.

Monday, June 2, 2008

some notes on 内蒙古

The entire Stanford program minus one (22 people total) road-tripped up to Chengde and Inner Mongolia this past weekend.

The most interesting things to note from the trip -

  • Some beautiful temples in Chengde, including the Buddhist Puning temple, built in 1755, and the Tibetan-style "Little Potala Palace," built in 1767.

    Puning temple complex

    Puning temple
Tibetan prayer flags outside Little Potala

Not the great wall, but a pretty good wall nonetheless

  • A truly inedible vegetarian Buddhist dinner in Chengde, which consisted of about 10 types of fake meats - fake fish, fake chicken, fake shrimp, fake duck, fake eel, fake squid, fake pork with fake pork fat, and other creations of varying degrees of rubberyness and tastelessness.
Looks eeriely like real fish, huh?
  • To make up for it, a delicious lamb dinner in Inner Mongolia, where we ate an entire lamb roasted on a spit, and where Pokey, Barry, and Rozi devoured the lamb legs like true carnivores.

  • Horseback riding on the Inner Mongolian highlands through a duststorm.
My horse, about to ride into the duststorm
Protecting ourselves best as we could (aka with hoodies)

A little bit worse for the wear post-duststorm
  • Nearly freezing in the 30/40-degree night in an unheated yurt in Inner Mongolia - we ended up piling 15 people into one yurt (meant to sleep two) to huddle on the two pushed-together beds and play card games late into the night. It worked; we certainly stayed warm while we were there. Leaving that yurt, on the other hand....

    Tracy is clearly too tall for the door in our yurt
    I am cold
Anyway, it was wonderful spending two days under pollution-free skies, and we are now back in Beijing. Finals coming up soon. Then home.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

back from inner mongolia

...where I had the most delicious pecans ever. There were also horses that we rode, and a sandstorm that we rode through. And yurts. And coldness.

I am clean and showered. There are many stories. More to come.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008