3/2/16 - 9/2/16 10 °C
Another week has come and gone, and I have many more stories to tell and pictures to share. Beijing continues to teach me something new every day, whether it be about myself, the city, or China itself. With it being the week of Chinese New Year, there is always something going on. Namely fireworks. There hasn't been a single day the past two weeks there hasn't been the sound of explosions and flashes of light out our 13th story window.
Which brings me to what we did for New Years Eve and New Years Day. For the first day since our January 21st arrival, my roommate and I had the opportunity to sleep in - which we did! Our day started around 09:00, which led us to a long walk around Houhai Hutong, then back to our dorm to watch the first set of nighttime fireworks. After about an hour or two, we ventured outside to take pictures of the people celebrating. When we got our shots and more fireworks started going off, we headed back inside, tried to make it up to the roof of our 18 story building, failed, and found ourselves watching the dazzling display of the city illuminated by sounds of explosions and light.
New Years Day was rather uneventful for us as well. We went to the Changdian Temple Fair to meet up with some of our program peers and had a lot of fun walking around the crowds and buying a few souvenirs for our friends and family. I really recommend the Changdian Temple Fair for those who wish to buy calligraphy, art, antiques, or old-looking items for souvenirs. After that, my roommate and I split up from the group and went on a mission to find a 7-Eleven. We ended up finding it at Glory Mall, which is a rather nice (but expensive) mall, before heading home to sleep before class the next day.
A Recap of the Last Tour Day
The last tour day started with a two-hour self-guided tour of the Summer Palace. My roommate and I found some out-of-the-way paths around the grounds, which I recommend for anyone to do (while still obeying signs and authorities, of course!).
The next stop was to the Pearl Market. I was a little wary at first since as soon as I walked in it was all a flurry of activity and haggling voices, suspicious merchandise lining every walkway. I wasn't too excited until I was able to bargain an item down to a reasonable price. Once you get the feel of it, bargaining gets easier and somewhat fun, and I was able to snag a lot of stuff. I got some Bose Noise-Cancelling headphones (we checked before purchasing), a t-shirt, a Fjallravn backpack, and a small shoulder day bag for all under 735RMB (~111USD). We plan on going back to purchase some shoes. The trick is to start unrealistically low and/or pretend to leave and always be firm in your final price (Or even better, have someone who can speak Chinese with you to haggle).
Right after the Pearl Market (Hongqiao) was a stop at Tian’anmen Square. I’d already been once before, visited Mao’s body, and walked around for about an hour, so there was nothing new to see here. Everyone ended up having to leave upon request of the guards as an important individual was arriving. I got brave and tried to take photos of the guards (I don’t recommend doing this).
The final stop of the day was the Beijing acrobatics show. I have mixed feelings about the show, because although it was beautiful, the audio and synchronization was off. My favourite part of the entire show was the motorcycles riding around in a ball. I took some videos (shhhhh, don’t tell!!) of it to show everyone!