China 1999

Written by Al Wong (Write to me)

This is my experience in Beijing, China in the Summer of 1999. If you came to this webpage first, it's better if you start from the beginning of the story.

Thursday, July 1st
Eating Scorpions!

We had a power failure last night. First the wall outlets had no power (the ac and lamps wouldn't work), then all the power was turned off. Anyway, I wasn't able to update the day's activities because of this. I'm writing this on July 2nd. This was also an interesting day with a few unusual activities.

Today's activities include:

  • Fragrant Hills Park. We took the minibus to a parking lot near the park. Then we had to walk uphill for about a mile to get to the park entrance. This would have been fine but my right knee was still hurting from yesterday so it was an ordeal to walk up this hill. Also, the soles of my feet were starting to hurt too. It was from all that walking on hard ground. I need to find some air cushioned sport shoes.

    In the park were lots of trees, a lake, etc. There was a temple in the park too, running up along the side of a hill. I passed on seeing this temple because of the stairs.

    Then we went on a gondola ride up to the park's highest point for a look. Actually, the gondola was a ski lift but the ride was fun. On top, you could not see very much because of the smog. It seems there is now a very big smog problem in the city.

  • Eating Scorpions! We went to a local restaurant for lunch and fried whole scorpions were on the menu. I ate a scorpion and it was pretty good! All the guys in our group ate a scorpion as well as two of the girls. It was pretty entertaining. I really want to go back and take some fried scorpions home with me!

  • Wanshou Temple. This is supposed to be a surviving temple where past emperors came to worship. This temple is within walking distance of the language academy and has a nice gift store in the back.

  • Getting a Haircut. Getting a shampoo, haircut and massage was an interesting experience. We took several taxi cabs to a place called, Beida Nanmeer. This place is actually where Beijing University is located! There are at least two cyber cafes within walking distance of the university (which I will check out later!)

    After a few false starts, Cathy finally led us to the hair salon place. For $30.00RMB one could get a shampoo, haircut and upper body massage. It was well worth the trip and the money. Please note the people in this place really know how to cut hair for Asian people unlike most places in the US. I was very impressed with their service.

  • Later That Night. There was a partial power failure in some of the rooms. The AC outlets were not providing power for things like the air conditioner and lamps. The ceiling lights were still working though. Then the maintenance people shut off all power around 10pm for repair. I think the power came back on around 1am.

Some Random Thoughts

  • Getting More Sleep! I think the main problem on this trip is getting enough sleep! So far, in the first three nights, I've gotten 3 hours, 3 hours and 5 hours of sleep respectively.

  • Tipping. Tipping is not expected in Beijing and I was not encouraged to tip. This includes cab drivers, waiters and hair stylists.

  • Begging in Beijing. As I was walking the streets of Beijing, a frail, old lady who appeared to be half blind and homeless approached me for money. As I was reaching in my pocket to give her a few dollars, one of the teachers stopped me. I later learned that the Chinese government is supposed to provide housing and food for everyone in need. Begging is illegal and this old lady was probably part of a group of thieves preying on tourists. The old lady looked destitute to me though.

  • Politeness. This appears to be a contradiction in China. You are expected to say thank you to anyone who provides you a service yet cutting in line is tolerated. Also the constant honking while driving, considered rude in the US, is the norm here. And I still don't understand how people tolerate cars driving on the wrong side of the road!

  • Cars Have the Right of Way. In fact, cars insist on having the right of way! This is especially true of taxi cabs. We've had several close calls as pedestrians. Be very careful in crossing the streets in Beijing.

The Next Day China 1999 My Writings Al's Wild Web Page

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Last updated : November 8, 1999
Copyright 1999 Al Wong, Los Angeles, California, USA
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