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 8th
Chinese Ethnic Cultural Park

The hot water was finally hot around 10pm last night! I can take a hot shower at last!

Also, my laundry came back today! Let's see, it only took them four days to return it! To be fair, I was told the laundry service is part of the school. I had thought they sent out the laundry to an outside service. Anyway, the service as well as the entire school did not have hot water for four days. Therefore the delay.

Hmmm. If it were me, I would have subcontracted to another outside laundry service knowing my hot water would be out for several days. Waiting for four days is ridiculous.

Today's activities include:

  • Class Session. Today we learned how to ask for things in a restaurant, how to describe your experience in sight-seeing different places and exchanging money. The problem about exchanging money is you have to write your Beijing address in Chinese and we didn't learn that yet!

    After class, Cathy led a group of us to exchange money at a local department store. It turns out the exchange rate is the same from a bank, department store or hotel. The exchange rate is the same everywhere in China unlike other countries. I wrote down the exchange rate but I should have asked for it in Chinese just to see if they can understand me. By the way, the exchange rate is listed multiplied by 100 units unlike other countries. Also, the exchange fee is $1.50US.

    [Tower and Pond]

  • Chinese Ethnic Cultural Park. This is a theme park where they have tiny coves that represent about 50 Chinese minority groups. It's kind of like Disney's Epcot Center in Florida except rather than countries, they have minority groups. It was quite interesting. The landscaping was beautiful and I took several pictures. We only saw two shows though.

    The first show had some dancing and singing. It was OK but the music was too loud. The show didn't play too well with the audience because something was missing. The performers didn't bother to bow after their performances. Each act ended abruptly with the performer leaving the stage. I think the show would have went over better if they had taken the time to bow to the audience. This would also have confirmed that each act was finished and the next one was coming.

    [Dancers in a circle] [Wet Guys] The other show had us line dance in a circle and then we did some second lining. After this, there was a free-for-all water fight! Several people in our group got soaked. This was very entertaining. I managed to get out of the ground zero for getting soaked in time. Andrew and Eugene got thoroughly soaked.

    The strange thing about the park was that it was almost deserted of tourists. Cathy said the high price of admission ($60RMB) kept out most of the locals. I guess most tourists haven't discovered this place yet. We really should have spent more time here today. I think we stayed all of two hours.

  • Later That Night. Took a cab to get my pictures and to visit the cyber cafe. Left around 8pm and the Fuji place was still open. They charged me $46.80RMB to develop 3 rolls of film (24 exp). This included 3X5 prints. Some of my pictures came out pretty well. Several interior pictures came out much better than I thought. Next time, I should tell them I would have liked 4X6 prints.

    Next to the cyber cafe to upload the newest daily entries and check my email. Actually, I upload all the entries each time. I am still updating previous daily entries with things I remember later, misspellings, additions, supplemental information, etcetera, so you still might wanted to reread the entries again.

    The Internet connection at the cafe is pretty slow too but faster than the language academy's connection and their FTP works. I haven't been able to connect with TELNET though. Sending email today was painfully slow. Yahoo was barely responding. I managed to shoot off about 8 email messages.

    I spent 130 minutes on-line and it cost me $15.00RMB which works out to about 1.5 cents/minute. I still haven't figured out how they charge me on-line yet! It must be some sort of sliding scale.

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