• Koreen Liew-Young

TBGTB: Out and about

The third installment is ready to read with all our latest observations and experiences!



Chinese Traditional Orchestra

Had the amazing opportunity to go with our friends Wendy and Yining from New Zealand.  The special thing about this orchestra was that they were using traditional instruments such as the Erhu and wearing chinese costumes.


People plucked, blew and struck so elegantly, like a polished choreographed dance. Colours splashed across the stage in dramatic shades and gradually increased in hue as the stage shifted to reveal an extremely grand and professional orchestra at the end.  I found myself feeling like I was watching a battle scene in one of those historic Chinese movies, where the main character launches into battle knowing he is destined to die.


By the way, you’re not supposed to use cameras over here.  You’ll get a little red laser shining on you telling you to put your camera away, however, this is China, by the end everyone was doing it. And my photo is legit – it was taken during the en core.  See above picture.


Bikes

The method of transport is now by bike. It takes us about 20 minutes or so, and didn’t take us long to slot into the systematic chaos although I prefer to walk my bike through peak hour traffic, I'm brave but not that brave.


You can get many accessories, such as a basket on the front, bell and lights. My light is like a strobe light, and has about eight different modes which you use, I’m literally like a party bus. You can buy a really strong lock for 30 Kuai and we just leave it chained up on the street, even overnight is fine.  As long as everything is locked down, Julian has already had both of his lights stolen from his bike.


Exercise

I find we walk a lot more than we do in New Zealand and there’s no parks or anything to really throw a ball around. As you can imagine there’s not a lot of space either.  Instead I guess people go to University Gyms or sports grounds.  We had the opportunity to play some badminton with Yining’s uncle, Uncle Wang.  People come to play twice a week, and people generally seem to play with their workmates. Everyone was so welcoming and hospitable, and the volleyball swing came in handy with badminton 101.


What really caught my eye was the militant fashion in which people were running two-by-two around another court. They all stayed together and no one seem to complain or stray, (even after 50 times around the court…I was amazed.)


We also scouted out a local university for any sports teams or gyms we could join.  Soccer teams and touch teams weaved in and out on the field with no boundaries which was hard case to watch.  Worked kind of like the traffic.  I also found an outdoor concrete court where men were playing volleyball and joined in for a wee while, hard on the knees though.


Tonight I'm going to check out a women's club, which I found on The Beijinger.  I have no knee pads and shoes that are falling apart, (wasn't really expecting to be playing any volley over here) however, should be sweet.  The Beijinger is good for finding random things when you're new to the city.


Other sightseeing

While Yining and Wendy were here as mentioned previously, we went to Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, as well as The Temple of Heaven. We also watched Brazil football team play Zambia at the Beijing National Stadium (or Bird’s nest), chilled out in a lotus boat at Beihai Park and ate some really glorious food for cheap cheap!


My Mandarin progress

We are still having a blast, while trying to keep on top of learning 20 new words / characters per day at Beijing Mandarin Academy.  I’m really stoked about the progress I’m making, and living here I’m forced to use it.  Latest achievement was when we went to Kunming to visit our friends Troy and Ruth. I said to the taxi driver in Chinese “My husband is going to call our friend and we would like to go to our friends house, could he speak to them?”


EPIC. Considering my Chinese was something compared to an 80’s old school computer- really slow. Unfortunately the conversation went awkward as I had no idea what he was saying to me after that though as people speak really fast.  I am beginning to understand words here and there, and read some Chinese characters!  And some locals have said I have really good tones.


I don’t know how people do this part time and am thankful that we can concentrate on studying as much as we can, as many of our classmates are studying at local universities at the same time.


We are heading to Xian in the first weekend of November with the China Study Abroad team who make it real easy and organise the trip for us!  Can’t wait!

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