Friday, 8 May 2009

In the spring

Baoding is much more pretty in the spring. However, the weather is already too warm for me. It was almost 90 degrees here today, but I admit I prefer warm weather regarding my shower. It's so much better showering in the spring/summer than in winter. Now, my water stays hot much longer and even when it cools down, I don't mind.

Next Friday I'm going to be super brave and have one of my wisdom teeth extracted in Beijing. Fortunately, I was only born with 2 wisdom teeth and they're both on the right. Well, the lower one has been causing excruciating pain pretty much since I've been in China. I went to the dentist while back in the US, but the oral surgeon was booked. Anyway, the tooth is really up, so I figure they can just pull it. I'm actually looking forward to it. It's been hurting so much and I haven't been able to eat on my right side for months. I'm a little nervous about going by myself, but I'll be happy when it's all done. I figure since it's just one tooth, maybe it won't be too bad. I know quite a few people who have had teeth pulled and they didn't think it was too traumatizing. Besides, I really can't imagine it hurting much more than it does now.

Since they've been working on the road in front of our university, the guys found a human skull. I thought this was interesting and being an historian, I'm curious as to why there was a skull buried underneath the road. It doesn't rain much, so I doubt rain could have moved it. Anyway, I stole these pictures off of Josh's Facebook page. When I heard they found the skull, I went to go look for it, but couldn't find it.

Curtis and the skull

Around Beijing

Sunday, 3 May 2009


Granted, Kansas isn't the most beautiful state, but after spending a holiday weekend in Beijing, it definitely is more beautiful to me. I miss the wide open space and a state population of 3 million as opposed to the Beijing population of about 7.5 million. I had a great time at my hotel and eating lots of American food, but time spent out and about in Beijing and at the train stations was exhausting. I admit, patience is not one of my virtues. However, I don't like to get mad often-I figure there's no point, especially here in China since they can't understand me anyway if I do say something to them out of anger. Plus, I don't like feeling out of control, so I try to keep things in check. However, everyday something challenges my patience.

Today, it was a variety of small things. I requested a late check out at my hotel since my train wasn't until 4:30 and I was going to go eat beforehand, then go to the station. I called the reception Saturday and asked to check out at 1:30 and they said no problem. Then today, the manager calls my room at 12:30 wondering when I was going to check out and I explained, he said no problem. This didn't bother me, until I went to leave. In order to use the elevators at the hotel, you have to swipe your hotel key. They must have deactivated my key when I supposed to check out because my key wouldn't work. There was a phone, so I called the desk and explained that my key wouldn't work and she said "ok" and hung up. So, I didn't know if "ok" meant she would fix it or if I was supposed to take up residency on the 9th floor of the Marriott. I waited and waited, tried my key again, no luck. Finally, a bellman came to help me learn how to use my key. Good grief. 1) If I didn't know how to use a hotel key-how would I have gotten to the 9th floor to begin with? 2) If they want guests to leave-they should lock them out, not in. Then, the concierge wrote down the wrong directions for the cab driver to get to TGI Friday's. We were around the right area, but driving on some back road and heading in the wrong direction. Luckily, I know my way around the Jianguomen area, so I was able to direct him in the right direction.

TGI Friday's was great-I love the staff and the fact that they know me. My server gave me another survey, so I could get 50 RMB off my next meal. Today, my meal, drink, and dessert cost me about $3 thanks to the other survey discount. And, on the plus side, he was cute and has an English name, Stone. Not great, but I've heard much worse English names.

I didn't have anymore "testing of my patience" until the end of the train ride to Baoding. Technically, my train seat is mine until the train pulls up to the platform and I actually leave the seat. Well, the train was full and some people didn't have seats, so this man took it upon himself to push those of us getting off in Baoding out of the way in order for him to get one of our seats. He made the mistake of pushing me and I wasn't having it. I'm tired of being pushed, cut in front of in line, stared at, and numerous other social courtesies that the Chinese do not abide by. Plus, when pushed me, he slammed my bag with my laptop in it up against the chair. My Macbook is like my kid and it doesn't make me happy when it gets abused. Anyway, the man did not get my seat or any other seat in our row until I was ready to vacate the area. Other than that, things went smoothly. I'm just all about organization and planning and China is not.

Overall, I miss Kansas and it's clean air, wide spaces, and controlled population.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Beijing Weekend

I'm currently laying on a super comfortable, king sized bed in my 4 star hotel. It's wonderful. In the past 32 hours, I have showered 4 times. Also wonderful. I love having a bathtub with unlimited hot water with lots of water pressure. I haven't stayed in Beijing longer than a day since I got back in February, so it was definitely time for a mini holiday. I've also been enjoying fine American cuisine. I went to Outback Steakhouse yesterday and today, I met Lindsey (also in Beijing for a holiday) at Pete's Tex Mex. I hadn't been there, but had heard numerous positive things. It was good-I'm a big fan of the tortilla chip and they have chips and salsa for an appetizer. I had plain bean burritos and a coke-Lindsey had tacos-all delicious and it was nice to try a new place. Tonight, I went to Pizza Hut and tomorrow is TGI Friday's. I often get slack about my eating habits, especially as a world traveller. I'm one of those people who travels thousands of miles from home and flock to the American restaurants. I rarely try the local cuisine more than once. I figure I'm 28, stuck in my ways, and 99% of the time I know just by looking at something whether or not I will like it.

My little excitement was bribing a cab driver in Baoding. I'm super organized and punctual and I left 45 minutes before my train (it left at 10:39). Anyway, even when traffic is super hectic, it only takes about 20 minutes to get to the train station, so I figured I had some lead way. However, I did not budget not being able to get a cab. With the construction in front of the university, cabs haven't been lining up in front of the main gate as much as they usually do. I checked the main gate to make sure, then I went to the East gate, then I walked down to the intersection and still couldn't get a cab. It was 10:15 and I was panicking a little because I didn't want to miss my train. When I went to hail one, it had people in it, but they were fortunately students at my university and recognized me as a foreign teacher. Anyway, I asked them if I paid their fare and gave him 50 yuan if he would take me directly to the train station. Usually, it only costs about 10 yuan for the train station, but paying 50 was worth every penny. We pulled up at 10:32-I had to book it.

I'll be home in a little over 5 1/2 weeks. I can't believe how quickly this time in China has gone by. I can still remember getting off the plane for the first time in Beijing last August.