19 May 2011

Capturing the Sun + Grooving in the Boutique Bar

Today, we bought souvenirs at the Friendship Store + then went to the Sun Temple (Ritan Park, otherwise known as 日壇). After taking a nap back at the hotel, we took a taxi to meet our friend Anne Li + Judy B. at the Bookworm bookstore, a favorite haunt for anglophone expats in Chaoyang Qu. From there we went to a hip Boutique Bar (where you could order Japanese food--holler!), drank stiff, pricey cocktails + then walked through expat alley before saying goodbye to our friends + really, Beijing.

A few other things I’ve noticed in Beijing:

17. I may have written this already but it’s worth repeating: I feel like Chinese people stare a lot. And while I’m pretty much unfazed by it + have been since living in West Africa (salut, tubabu!), still, sometimes I’m amazed at how blatant the staring is, especially at LB’s pretty face + her little flowers in her hair

18. Some of the scams you read about in Beijing are totally true

19. I’ve seen people with totally mutilated bodies lying on the sidewalk with tin cans held up in the air + it just fucks with me. I feel bad + confused + manipulated + concerned + bad ad nauseum.

20. Not only do many Beijingese spit all the time, but I’ve seen quite a lot of throwing up, by businessmen, babies, you name it. Maybe it’s just my random experience. But still.

21. Another cliché that’s not a cliché: The Chinese really do love to smoke.

22. I’m not gonna lie: I really miss my diet back in LA

23. I’m astonished (horrified) the way some Beijingese treat the sidewalks like their trashcan. We’ve seen families holding their infant in the air as he pisses onto the sidewalk, I’ve seen people throw away cigarette wrappers + corn-on-the-cob + plastic bottles on the sidewalk when often there’s a trash can three feet away. I mean, LB + I actually saw people littering the Great Wall of China, which is one of the seven wonders of the fucking world!

24. The Chinese are really loud. I can’t tell when they’re animated + when they’re arguing because it sounds the same to my untrained ear.

Pics of Chaoyang Qu, the Cool Boutique Bar We Went to + Our Friends, Anne Li + Judy B.:

18 May 2011

Silk Markets, Cross-Dressing Dancers + Imperial Gardens

We took a taxi to Baita Si Dagoba, the white stupa in Beihai Park, which is surprisingly tranquil, lush and beautiful in the middle of Beijing’s chaos, dust + endless construction. Our driver used his two sentences of English on me (which is more than the Mandarin I know). Then he started to sing Chinese songs. Then hum. After walking around Beihai Park + crawling up rocks, we ate Japanese food at Ajisen Ramen inside a fucking mall in Xidan that had the worst service I’ve ever received in my entire life (China or elsewhere), then we tracked down a café that LB had marked in one of her Beijing guidebooks where we realized it had gone out of business a long time ago + nothing had taken its place since then. We also almost got mugged/ripped off/scammed by a Beijing “artist,” + the worst part is, we were already familiar with the art scam. We honestly believed this dude was an artist about to visit Berkeley until he tried to drag us to his sketchy “art exhibition,” which had been hand-painted on the wall of a cell phone store. That’s when I told him we were leaving. We just walked away, quickly, back to the subway + got the fuck out of there. Finally, now masters of the Beijing subway, we took the train to Chaoyang Qu, ate unhealthy fake meat dishes at Loving Hut + then came home + watched Greenberg on HBO in our hotel room. This was one of the first truly relaxing days we've had since we got to China.

Here are the pics: