Office hour fun

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Jenny and Amanda arrived on Friday afternoon and we’ve been busy seeing most everything Beijing has to offer a curious tourist. I kept them up as late as I could on Friday night and they’re handling the jetlag okay.  I showed them and Google music on their second night, and they kept themselves awake streaming free television shows and downloading free (and legal!) music.

We hit the Beijing Zoo on Saturday with the main purpose of visiting the pandas.  If you’re going to come to China, you need to see the pandas, right? Here’s what a popular Beijing guidebook says about the zoo:

The inhabitants of the Beijing Zoo are saddled with grimly dated design features – concrete and glass cells – but the crowd-pulling pandas have plusher living quarters for good behavior.  The polar bears pin all their hopes on graduating from their concrete hell to the more impressive Beijing Aquarium in the northeast corner of the zoo.

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Guilin vacation pictures

Jenny and Amanda arrived in Beijing yesterday and their jet-lagged selves are zonked out on the living room floor right now.  It’s been a longer-than-usual absence, but here are finally some pictures from Guilin.

All ready to head out to the airport!

Shire Hobbit coffee

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Congrats, Caitlin!

Sixteen years ago, there were three:

Christmas 1993

Fast forward a few years (and another sibling), to three years ago:

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Best vacation quote ever

Anna to Chinese woman:  “So, what does dog taste like?  Is it similar to chicken?”

Chinese woman:  “It tastes like cat.”

Michelle and I on the Li Jiang

More pictures to come…

I’m on vacation

I’ll be spending the next week or so vacationing and relaxing in Guangxi Province with a couple girlfriends.  We’re looking forward to the beautiful scenery and just getting away for a bit.  My Chinese friend Mary teased me this week because I’ve been in China for three years and have never made the pilgrimage to Guilin.  (I finally got around to visiting the Summer Palace and the Forbidden City just this year.  I know – shame on me.)  This is a trip that’s been at the top of my list to take for a while, and it’s probably one of the places in China I’m most looking forward to seeing.  Guilin’s mountains are famous, so much so that they’re on the back of the 20RMB ($2.93) note.

Something that every tourist does: I'll be taking my own picture like this in the coming days!

Southern China has experienced an especially bad drought since the fall, but it just broke in the Guilin area when the Lijiang River flooded its banks on Tuesday after several days of torrential rains.  Right now the ferries and river activities are all suspended until the water levels go down, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll be able to do some of that!  Beijing has spring, but it’s not quite as warm as Guilin should be – in the upper 60’s and 70’s – right before the rainy season starts in May/June. Continue reading

Do you understand the words that are comin’ outta my mouth?

When I first arrived in Beijing, I wasn’t too excited about learning Chinese.  I’ve changed my mind since then and have been making baby steps in the right direction.  I often get comments like “Three years – you must be fluent” or “Can you really understand anything at all?”  The real answer lies somewhere in the middle (although admittedly closer to the latter), so today’s post is for anyone wondering how much Chinese I can actually speak or understand.  Because I’m lazy I’m not going to include the Chinese characters or the tones, and I don’t think it makes much difference to anyone who reads this anyway.  This is a fill-in-the-blank homework assignment that I had to turn in this morning.  Excuse the Chinglish translations and enjoy.  =)

jintian huidao jia, wo jia dishang luanqibazaode, yinwei wangle guan chuanghe, zhuoshang de huaping suile, zhen zaogao, nage huaping bushi wo mai de, shi pengyou songde.
(Today I have returned home and my floor was a mess because I forgot to close the window.  The vase on the table was broken, how unfortunate.  I didn’t buy that vase, my friend gave it to me.) Continue reading