Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Beijing and government tourist spots

Sofar Beijing has been alright.  The historic stuff is neato, since I just spent last semester studying about all this junk.  The touristy stuff, not so great.  Part of our tour (which Sophie, our guide, said is mandatory) is to stop at 3 factories: Jade, Pearl, and Silk.  All of which are owned by the government.  It wouldn't be so bad, but everything seems to have the same 'quirks', meaning the Jade people say "this is a staple of China.  Brings you good luck and good health," which was the same pitch we heard at the Pearl place, and even the Silk factory (they said the silk has minerals in it from the worm, great for the skin...)

I almost feel bad for the 30 or so workers on the show-room floor, one because my family never buys that junk, and two because they all seem terribly bored...

However, the historical stuff has been really cool, especially the part in the Forbidden City, where they have this well in the garden with a huge stone on top with a little hole in it.  Turns out it's a water hole to get water, and used to be big enough for people to jump into.  Also turns out the emperors concubines tended to get fed up with their lives of entrapment that they'd jump in the well and drown themselves often enough for there to be need for a stone on top.

The tour has been good though.  Seen stuff that I probly need to say, "yeah, I've been there" to my friends back home.  But it's all just for show.  I don't care too much about being a tourist.  I want to know I'm settling down somewhere for a while, take my time to explore and whatnot.

Oh well

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Flights and hectic planning

I wouldn't say this is last minute anything, but it's still unnerving a little bit.  I'm trying to get my flights to China, within China, back to Korea, then back to China.  I'm having Anna help me out, so I hope things really do work out smoothly.  Most people have said, "get a Chinese friend to do things for you.  It's easier."  Right now I'm just a little nervous, but I'm sure by this evening things'll be worked out.

So the plan: Vacation starts tomorrow at 6:30am when we get on the plane for Hong Kong.  Spend 2 days there, head up north to Beijing, do New Years (for us Americans... Chinese new year is Jan 25th...).  That'll be the last time I see Pete till August.

Lunch is ready, so that's where this note ends.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


It's Christmas day.  We're in our house in Seoul, and it's been freezing outside the past few days.  Today, around 14-20 all day.  The big present this year was a custom suit by this guy Jeff met here back in 1994.  Very nice korean man.

So far we've just shopped around (since that's about all there is to do).  Luckily everything is supper cheap.  We leave for China on Saturday, so the day, it's coming quick.  We'll first go to HongKong, then Beijing, then on Jan 2 I head out to Anna's house in FuZhou.  The 4th or 5th of Jan I leave for HeFei for my internship.  

Sounds busy, but really the traveling is the only busy part.  We're not really doing much.  

I don't really have any pre-departure thoughts.  I'm excited to get to China, and I really hope I see the improvement in my Mandarin that others have seen when they visited for a long time.