Thursday, March 30, 2006

Old haunts

I thought I swore never to go back to IKEA Beijing. But we did, and despite our exhaustion bought several armfuls of household furnishings, including a bookcase and coffee table. Rather than paying IKEA to deliver the next day, we saved ourselves 10 yuan by haggling with one of the minivan drivers crowding the exit to snag a customer.

Ping pong?

On the campus of Beijing (Peking) University, one of China's finest centers of higher education.

More photos around town

Dancing in the park (our last days near Tiantan, aka the Temple of Heaven). Yes, we did waltz!

Long time gone

Apologies for my long hiatus - these past few weeks have been busy, to say the least. We now live in a new apartment close to campus and new bicycles to school (at least until they get stolen, like two of my past three attempts to maintain a vehicular form of transportation in Beijing). The easy commute and spacious interior more than makes up for the higher rent.

We've had ample opportunity to sample the nicer restaurants in Beijing with successive visits of my family and one of Jeremy's advisors. One in particular features a 50s era red limo that Mao apparently reserved for his exclusive use. This limo is parked outside the restaurant, blocking about a third of the hutong that the restaurant fronts. In fact, to hail a cab after dinner, one of the restaurant employees - probably hired for this purpose - had to run a quarter of a mile just to flag a cab from the main street and convince the cabbie to enter this narrow and winding alley (cliche aside, this is a literal description - we had to wait five minutes on our way in because a little minivan was unloading produce at the local grocer).

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Oh, China

It's nearing three weeks now that I've been in China again, time enough to settle in and start missing the comforts and sanity of home. First, I found out upon close inspection that I had been living a dream - those stickers I posted about were actually fakes - "Washinton," not "Washington" apples. That's China for you.

Next, I ate a bad apple and was laid out sick for a day and a half. Just as I was regaining my ability to remain vertical without nausea, Jeremy came down with a bad sore throat. Strep throat? You got it, or at least that's what the doctor proclaimed with 90% certainty. Will we ever know? Not really, since he didn't take a culture but suggested a blood test instead - to "determine the strength of your immune system," he said, so he would know what strength antibiotic to prescribe. Not that I'm any expert, but we were just as happy to avoid the use of needles.

But the day ended happily. I had a productive meeting over in the Jianguomen embassy area, in Starbucks, no less. Sitting in a cushy sofa chair, gazing up at the surprisingly blue sky, and listening to a classic Starbucks mix, I could almost imagine that I was in California again. Cliche, perhaps. To top it off, we had pizza delivered for dinner!

So, to sum up our day, in chronological order: