Old Friends In Their Homeland
Today we woke up very early to catch the final flight to Beijing; about 5 AM. We were waiting a while after sitting down in our seats and I took a little nap. I think I mostly relaxed on the plane and didn’t really do a whole lot. I ended up cracking up at some of the entertainment on the TV. There was a funny TV show showing people doing quirky things similar to a Charly Chaplan silent film. It was shot in high speed like the Chaplan films and it was hilarious seeing people’s reactions.
We got into Beijing and we had a bit of a wait because our bus wasn’t there, so out in the parking lot me and some other people decided to do it like the locals and we whipped out the Majongg set that I purchased the night before. We started playing on the concrete and were stacking them, but then the bus rolled up. We had some touring to do before we checked into the hotel and we drove to the Temple of Heaven. I really did not feel like touring much this morning and I wanted to settle in the hotel because I felt like crap because I was being a dirt ass (IE No Shower this morning). The Temple of Heaven is supposed to be a beautiful sight, but unfortunately the entire thing was shut down because of renovation (probably for the Olympic tourism). There was still another temple and also the top of heaven where the emperor would give speeches. This area was a huge park with lots of people hanging out and also peddling. I purchased a water and also a water and also a lime popscicle that they called something funny on the wrapper. We visited a temple where the emperor would pray for a good harvest 3 times a year and we were able to look in the building. After the temple, we went to the emperors rock. Everyone wanted to get a photo standing on the rock and there were a bunch of Japanese tourists that would run, push and shove to get their Kodak moment. I somehow got on the rock and got a good photo as well.
After our lunch, we went back to the hotel. They had upgraded me and professor Stamps in the deluxe suite. It had a nice view, a huge King size bed that we had to share, two TVs and a really nice bathroom. We concluded that it was Global Holidays that is trying to maintain his business overseas. Global even sent some more fruit. We spent some time calling our local friends. He tried to get a hold of his friend Otto who works for the international university. I also jumped on the net to get Wei Ling’s number, but upon coming back, Stamps had already called around and acquired it. He spoke with her husband and we found that she was administering a test until 6 PM. All of these phone calls, upon checking out the hotel, amounted to 3.03 Yuan. That is like 27 cents…. Very very cheap.
I was still in dirt ass mode and so since I had not taken a shower yet I decided to go on a run. I prepared my running belt with some cash, our hotel card, my cell phone and filled my water bottle for it was mid-day when the heat was the greatest. If I had gotten lost, I could just take a taxi home. I ventured out and asked which way would be the best and Stamps pointed toward Tienamen Square. I headed down and ran as fast as all the locals riding their bikes and when I crossed streets I just bunched in with them. I got a lot of stares while running for I did not have my t-shirt on and I was sweating up a storm. I got to Tienamen and it was a lot of fun running around that huge square that can fit millions. After that I headed down the sidewalk running North of this very large freeway of about 10 to 12 lanes that runs past Tienamen. I couldn’t even cross and I had to go underground if I wanted to. I ran down a poorer alley and it spit me out into a huge shopping district where I saw a lot of young, hip and stylish Chinese. I even went as far as to go inside the mall only to find very weird and strange items being sold. I was thirsty so I bought a bottle of cold water from someone on the street and I noticed that I had already ventured out about 25 minutes. I wanted to run today because I haven’t had time to run in a while and also because in a few days I would hopefully have a very difficult workout on the great wall.
I got back to the hotel and I relaxed and watched some translated Chinese looney toons. I showered and also tried to get a hold of Wei Ling. After lying in bed sore for a while, I tried one last time to call her because I had to catch our coach for dinner and she had picked up. We organized for her to take a taxi to my hotel and I skipped the dinner with all of the group.
Stamps came home and he said he organized his friend Otto (Who works at Wei Ling’s school) to come and meet us as well. All of us decided to go to dinner together to a Tibetan restaurant that Otto frequents.
Once everyone was there and after we all relaxed in our nice living room I gave may gift to Wei Ling and she liked the Michigan T-Shirt and Jazz CD’s that I compiled. We took Otto’s car to the restaurant and when we arrived I really liked the setting and mood of the restaurant. There were Tibetan items and things decorating the entire room. We sat down and had an amazing salad and a very good yogurt type of soup with many fruits and vegetables. The next course was a hot beef dish that we rolled up in little tortillas. At first it was a bit hot, but once I got used to it, Otto was feeding me more and more and I basically finished the dish. We had some pretty decent dumplings that we had to first suck out the juice as well. Overall I was quite impressed with the food and it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to eat Tibetan food because there aren’t restaraunts like that in Michigan. Once we were finished with our meal, the staff went around and brought Tibetan instruments and sang to some of the guests. As they sang they gave a beautiful white scarf to one of the people in each table. This "hong" scarf was given to show some respect. The idea would be similar to when you arrive in Hawaii and you get a lay. I took videos of it on my small camera. The music was soo beautiful and it was followed with more singing of traditional Tibetan songs as well as dancing. This show that the staff put on was more amazing than the dance show that we saw the previous night. I was struck in awe by their unique singing style and beautiful melodies. They continued for at least a half hour and I had such a great time. To finish the night off they had people get up out of their seats to dance in a circle, so me being the one to try anything went up from our table. Stamps took a bunch of photos of me as I danced some Tibetan dances. It was such an amazing experience and I thanked Otto for taking us out for a great night.
When we got back to the hotel we immediately walked down about 3 blocks to go to a mall to find Stamps a white dress shirt so he could skip the touring and go to church. On the way I found peddlers with DVDs, but I didn’t buy (which was the last opportunity of this trip in fact). Oh well. We got to the mall and found him his shirt and he got a nice “Italian” made shirt. The mall was very modern looking and bright. I liked looking at all of the advertisements and they were very unique. Wei Ling and I decided to meet tomorrow as well and we asked a person that works there for a piece of paper. She gave us the back of a notepad which had an advertisement for beauty and fashion and this advertisement had a girl with her top off!! I made jokes later about the porno advertisement that I had called it. My feet were pretty tired by the time we got back to the hotel because I had my cheap sandals on. I hit the bed and within seconds I was gone. It was a long day and that run made me very tired. It has been an exhausting trip thus far.