Ni Hao, Jia Kai!
Hopefully this will be an adequate recollection and re-creation of ...
chang cheng/yihe yuan
once again it's been a bit of a while since i posted an entry for which i must apologize (to all my loyal readers, of course haha). it's been pretty nuts here in beijing and i'm doing the best i can to e-mail people and keep everyone apprised of my whereabouts and preoccupations, but it's kind of difficult with the schedule we have. i'm enjoying it though, and especially yesterday, after seeing the great wall and the summer palace, i really realize how lucky i am to be here. this should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me, but of course i have found things i dislike: the weather is incredibly hot, sticky, and humid, and this is coupled with near constant pollution smog/haze cover in the sky. look at the picture of the sun on my flickr page and you'll see how it is nearly every day. i'm sure i will become accustomed to it, or at least become tolerant of it once i get to shenzhen as it will be hot and humid all the time, so it's time for me to get over myself.
on a brighter note, we visited the great wall and the summer palace yesterday, and they were incredibly impressive. even when visiting and after leaving the great wall, i still don't think i fully comprehend the scale of the whole thing; it was truly incredible. the summer palace was also quite nice--it is a huge area complete with a lake, bridges, and various old, pagoda style buildings. it was incredibly hazy, which lent the area a definite mystique. on our way back we circumvented a cab fare (and being duped into riding in a gypsy cab) by walking home, which turned into a nearly hour walk from the summer palace to dinner when we were told it was about a 10 min. walk. okay chinese cab driver sitting in your trunk. i think i've walked more around china than i have in california in the last year honestly, given our 20ish minutes from lecture to where we teach as well as various other jaunts about campus. it's a beautiful campus though and i feel really honored to be able to spend two weeks on/around it.
that's sort of the extent of our exploration around beijing. upcoming plans include a dinner out with our chinese teacher, yu lao shi, and i really want to go this area called the "back lakes" which is supposed to be one of the last remaining areas where hutongs, or alleyways, still exist in beijing. it's so sad that the rapid urbanization comes at the expense of maintaining historical architecture, however reading my travel book most people are moving out of hutongs in search of modern conveniences like air conditioning and indoor plumbing, so i suppose i can't judge them for wanting those things i so take for granted. i think though many of us can be horrified walking down the streets and seeing trash and other waste strewn about, disgusted by the toilets ('squat pots') we use and their often noxious odor, and skeptical of the places in which we eat, it's really important to realize how differently others live and appreciate how very comfortably we have it in the u.s.