I hope everyone in the United States enjoyed their Memorial Day weekend. It is about 7 in the morning as I write this. Yesterday, was a long-day but an enjoyable one.
I know it is only been a couple of days but I think I already settled into a routine. I get up in the mornings about 6am. Walk around the campus for a bit to stretch my legs. It is really quite a hoot to see people doing Tai Chi in front of the Mao statue on campus. No big irony or anything it is just really a cool sight to see.
Then I come back to my hotel room, take a shower, and get ready for the day. I sit down to read or write and I am able to collect my thoughts on the day.
If I was home I would spend the morning tuning in CNN or CNBC, but because all of the TV stations are in Chinese I haven’t turned on the TV once. It is refreshing, although I feel a little disconnected from the world.
Anyway, yesterday was another busy day. We all gathered for lunch around noon and we were again treated to a fantastic lunch by our hosts. I even have a picture to put up (which was sent to us by our host). Just so you didn’t think i was joshing all of you…not that any of you are reading this (ha, ha).
Anywho, one of my colleagues after lunch gave his lecture and the rest of us decided to head off to the Hongqiao Pearl Market in Beijing. Actually, my colleague Dave had been there the day before and suggested we go while he conducted his lecture.
The train ride to the Hongqiao market was not hard to navigate. Although it took a bit to get directions. An extremely nice student drew us a quick map and when she mentioned the specific subway lines I actually kind of new the area she was talking about. The market is close to the Temple of Heaven, which is on my sightseeing list for later on in the trip.
In my short-time here in Beijing I had wondered where some of the tourists were. I actually didn’t see as many of them when we visited Tiananmen Square, but we arrived later on in the day and on a Sunday so that could’ve been the reason.
Well, let’s just say we found the tourists from all kinds of backgrounds. The place was loaded with tourist looking to score a deal on shopping and some cheap knockoffs. I know there are other places to shop in Beijing and I might even go there, although i am not much of a shopper, but this place was a grand flea market. They had all kinds of electronics, silks, knockoff purses, etc. They also had all kinds of jewelry and basically the entire top floor is full of pearl jewelers.
I didn’t know this, but I guess most of the freshwater pearls sold in the world come from China. The vendors are aggressive but not in a bad way. They are just trying to make a sale. I actually walked around for a bit before I did any shopping. When I was walking with my friends they called out my name so everytime I walked past the same vendor she called out to me by name asking if I wanted to a Michael Kors bag or whatever.
I didn’t take her up on her offer, but if I go back I might if some people tell me they want cheap knockoffs.
It was kind of funny we saw some young college students there and they were convinced they had stepped into a shopping mecca and bargain hunters delight. They couldn’t believe they could get a Prada bag for basically $20. Maybe I should have, but I didn’t have the heart to tell them that these are all fake, but good fakes nonetheless.
I did do a little shopping, but might try to do more later. My colleagues did much more than I (they have more people to shop for) and Jabbar was able to pick up a Go-Pro camera for a cheap price. I don’t even know that is, but apparently he liked it and it works.
We then took the train back to the hotel. It was 7 when we got back and I was dead tired again. I really didn’t venture out after that. I feel really old when I get back from one of our adventures. Not only because we walked a lot, but I am not out experiencing Beijing nightlife. This is actually one thing I hopefully will remedy. I am still trying to figure out where the Chinese go to hang out and just chill. Finding a pub or bar at the end of the day to relax would be nice.
The only big observation we made was that driving in China is crazy. Most of the bikes don’t obey the traffic lights and I am not sure the cars or buses do either. Although, Beijing has the largest subway system in the world there are tons of cars and congestion. There were a couple of occasions when I had to be a bit nimble on my feet, but I need the exercise anyway.
Today, I don’t know how much activity I will be doing. It is my day to teach and then one of our Chinese colleagues talked to us about showing us the campus of another university, hitting a lecture on Big Data, and then showing us around a bit. I am looking forward to that and will probably just take care of some work before I hit the classroom in a few hours.
Until next time.