Saturday, April 21, 2012

April 13; I love my dysfunctional BJ family

Day 68
In my comparative literature class today, my professor proposed a trip to the Canadian embassy.  Hell ya, I wanna visit the Canadian embassy! I wanna show off my Canadian pride and all….and a little birdie told me that they serve really great food there.
After class, our professor recommended we try these scone looking biscuits filled with fruit jelly. For only 70 jiao (about $0.10 CND), you could buy one these delicious fruit filled biscuits. Quite the deal. 
The girls stuck with the usual Friday routine and I realized that I need to learn how to save/budget. The goal of my trip was to buy a pair of shorts for the rapidly increasing hot weather, and start on souvenir shopping. That went down the drain with my very first unnecessary purchase of another dress. Ahhhh, like TanG/Drake says, “YOLO.” 
yay for ghetto fitting rooms!
It really didn’t help that there was a street market just outside the Zoo market. There were shoes poured onto blankets, accessories, socks, and there were a lot little random things you don't need but want to buy. It was an unavoidable market as it was on the path to get to the subway station. It was impossible not to look/buy anything, especially since we needed to kill time before meeting up with the other teacher friends for dinner.
Tanjin and her lion
Hayley recommended a dumpling restaurant in the Gulou/Houhai hutong which was absolutely fantastic! 
Sure the dumplings were amazing, but what was even more amazing was the fact you could draw on the walls!
Tanjin drawing Bangladesh's flag

John drawing Chicago's flag
Multicultural wall of awesomeness
I added my little touch of "I  <3 BJ"
While the others were busy indulging in the delicious dumplings, Kristie was occupied by the fact you could draw on the wall. She drew this little masterpiece. Don't worry, we made sure there was food on her plate. 
On the subway, John was acting all fatherly to us girlies and so we started to call him Papa John. From there we discovered a family that we never knew existed.  Papa John didn't want to reveal too much, but this is what we got thus far:  Papa John had us, the girlies, at the age of twelve but we all have different mothers so that makes us half sisters. We also have a cousin Jeff. We assumed Heys would be uncle Heys and Tom would be Uncle Tom (minus the negative connotation.. Even so, we shouldn't call him that...but we'll see). I love my Beijing family!

Monday, April 16, 2012

April 12; Care for some Carrefour?

Day 67
I headed over to school for my usual 8:00 am class only to find a deserted building. Apparently all the kids went to the park today and clearly I didn’t get the memo. Actually, most of the foreign teachers didn’t get the memo since news travels slowly around the school.

Anyways, I decided to waste no time on this beautiful free day. I grabbed lunch at the canteen to find a better than usual selection of food. They even had cherry tomatoes!!!! The tomatoes were definitely a sign that it was a good day waiting to get better.
sooo good!
Kristie and I headed out to Carrefour, a French version of Wal-mart Superstores. We found everything we were looking for and more. My personal favourite buys were Tim Tam’s, (an Australian brand cookies that I wanted to try for the longest time), Barilla pasta, and Tostitos salsa. So much foreign delights makes me happy. To add on to all that goodness, the superstore was connected to an underground market and the surrounding area had a legit shopping mall. 
If there are more than 4 people in line, a new lane will open. We need this in Toronto pronto.
Tim Tam time!!!!!!!
So glad I finally got to try it!
After some actual grocery shopping, we took a break to enjoy some ice cream at Prefere. It was the best strawberry ice cream I’ve ever tasted. So creamy and perfectly shaped.
Christmas tree cone = 18 RMB

It was certainly a day well spent. 

April 11; An unexpected interview with Teacher Yeh

Day 66
I walked into my last class of the day with students attacking me with questions front, right, and centre. Here are some of the questions they asked, some more ridiculous than others:
Do you have a mother?
Do you have a father?
Do you have a baby?
Do you have boyfriend?
Do you have man friend?
Kids say the darnest things.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

April 10; Rooftops for Agnel

Day 65
Rooftops is a topic that I bring up quite frequently and nonchalantly in my conversations. Why? I just want to party on a rooftop.  
During dinner with the other foreign teacher friends, Heys said one of the nicest things someone has said to me all week after I brought up the subject of my rooftop party again:
“If I won the multimillion lottery, I’d buy you a rooftop ‘cause you always talk about it!”

On another note, yesterday I was actually called Helen (not my favourite name) by one of the foreign teachers whom I rarely talk to, and tonight one of the teachers thought my name was Elizabeth for a second (I like the name, sounds royal). I don't answer to those random names, as they sound nothing like Angel but I am starting to answer to the name Agnel though. My name is spelt Agnel on my notebook, payroll, and checklist for recharging my food card. Those around me have also started to call me Agnel more frequently too. I actually like that name. I think it’s one of the more unique nicknames – much better than Angie or Angela. I think I'll take the name back with me to Canada. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

April 8; patio weather!

Day 63
It was yet again, another beautiful day. Perfect day patio dining. We went to a Muslim restaurant with our foreign teacher friends. There was no actual patio furniture so the staff moved the inside tables and chairs outside with no hesitation. Preps of being a foreigner (or dining with visible foreigners).

April 7; flying to Japan // flying in China

Day 62
NEWS: It’s confirmed. Kris, Cat and I will be Bitches in Tokyo this summer. Waku waku suru ! (excited)

As mentioned in a previous post, one of the requirements for my Comparative Literature course is to conduct research on  Chinese culture by actually partaking in something relatively Chinese. My group decided on kite making/flying.

Finding the little kite store was an adventure it self. After some time looking for the store, we eventually set our goals aside to take Yi, one of my lovely group members, to Beijing's famous hutongs area for the first time. It was actually my third time in that area and surprisingly I found new sections of the area I hadn't previously seen.
 We actually lost Michelle, another one of my lovely group members, who later called to tell us that she found the kite store. Relief. 
After browsing around the cozy little store and investigating the prices, we decided to buy a ready made kite since making the simplest kite (the generic diamond) takes about one hour.
Cheapest readymade kite = 30 RMB
With our new kite in hand, we headed over to Houhai Lake to test it out. Since our black and white butterfly shaped kite was looking a little pale, we coloured it with Yi’s pink and yellow highlighters. Proud of the new look, we decided to name our kite. After throwing a few names around, we chose BAMY (Bernard, Angel, Michelle, Yi).
Colouring BAMY
Prepping BAMY
My group : )
Yi, she's so sweet :)
 No one in the group actually knew how to fly a kite, but really. How hard could it possibly be? Well, it was a task and a half to get the kite up in the air.
BAMY gets ready to fly.
BAMY gets stuck.
BAMY takes a fall.
There was some realization that we were perhaps struggling. Okay, maybe “some” is a bit of an understatement. Other kite flyers/observers offered to help us fly our kite. There was a couple who tried to help us, a family man, and even the professional kite flyer who was flying a whole string of kites. All were not successful. BAMY just didn’t want to behave.
Nice couple giving us advice.
Nice couple trying to fly our kite.
Nice couple talking to professional kite flyer dude about the dysfunctional kite. 
We did have a few moments of success when the kite flew in the air.
There were quite a few people there flying kites of all shapes and sizes. The flyers were just as intriguing as the kites themselves. Kite flying seems to appeal to Chinese people of all types, whether you’re a child going with your family, a girl/boy going with your boo, or an elder hanging out with your other senior friends. It’s such a versatile activity and I’m glad to have experienced it. And now, for some people watching pictures:
Wedding pictures!!
This little boy had quite a few female friends.
interesting roller blade things
Little Angel said "I wonder why the butterfly is not flying"
After an afternoon with the group, two of them headed off while Bernard, Catherine, and I stayed to continue exploring the surroundings and find food. We wanted to admire the view from the rooftop, but the rooftops belonged to cafes and such which meant being a customer to enjoy the view. Instead of ordering something to admire the view, our new friend took one for the team and pretended to look interested in the menu while we admired the beautiful surroundings.
We had dinner on...waitforit... a rooftop!  It was my rooftop dining experience! (I was probably just as excited as I was in Korean when I was eating on the floor). After spending a few hours on the rooftop waiting, eating, and chatting, I can officially say I’m totally rooftop lovinnng.
Plate of fried rice = 35 RMB

After 3 weeks of avoiding cold foods and drinks (I’m still sick-ish), I finally gave in to dessert. We ended off the night with “Canadian” frozen yoghurt with mango topping.

What a perfect day =)