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 15th
Summer Palace, Chinese Acrobats Again!

Today's activities include:

  • Summer Palace. We left early this morning around 8am to see the Summer Palace. The sun was out and it was very hot today. Also, there were lots of tourists at the Summer Palace so it was very crowded. When we arrived there, we first met the party secretary who runs the Summer Palace park.

    This place is huge. There is a large lake in the middle of it. We would have gotten lost if left on our own. Fortunately, we had a tour guide, Wang xiao jie, to show us around for the first hour and then we were on our own.

    [Temple of Stairs] [Side Yard]

    After the tour, we climbed these steep stairs to another temple for a panoramic view of the place. Then we walked to a place called Suzhou, a mock village where the emperor and his court could buy things like in a real village.

    [Su Zhou] [Side Yard]

    After this, we walked to a restaurant inside the park and had our lunch. The food was great! I forgot to ask for a business card! Arrrrgh! I think I forgot because the employees were no where to be seen after they served us and people started going their own way. I also must be kind of burned out.

    After lunch, I saw a couple artists draw English or Chinese names using some sort of art calligraphy. Very unusual and very pretty. They worked fast too.

    It was time to gather the group together and leave the Summer Palace. We took a boat ride across the lake and went out another entrance to meet our minibus.

    It seems our group is doing different things tonight. Some want to go to another disco. Others want to do the haircut, shampoo and massage thing. I want to see the Chinese acrobats again! There was an option to go CD shopping too but no one wanted to go.

  • Chinese Acrobats Again! The cab ride to the Poly Plaza Hotel where the show is located was about an hour cab ride! I didn't realize the hotel was so far away. And we had to go through heavy traffic too (around 6pm) which slowed us down a lot. I'm really glad I left early.

    The Chinese Acrobat show was just as fantastic seeing it a second time around! They added a few more acts that I didn't see the first time. This was a bonus for me for seeing the show twice. They also slightly changed a few acts too. I guess to make the acts tighter. Also, they were playing to a near full house this time.

    After the show, I went to a tea cafe at the hotel just to try it. The tea was good and so was the shrimp jiaozi but the noodle dish I ordered was so-so.

    The cab ride back to the language academy was another death defying adventure. My first clue was that the seat belt in the front seat didn't work. During the drive back on the freeway, just ahead of us one van was trying to pass on the right of another van driving in the center lane. The passing van cut it a little too close and side swiped the other van! He didn't even bother to stop either. He just sped up!

    When I saw the side swipe, I thought I was going eat it. We were going 80 km/hour (~50mph) and following the vans pretty closely. When one car side swipes another, usually the car being hit will swing around (fish-tail) and slow down. Sometimes both cars fish-tail. At our speed and close distance, the taxi driver could not have stopped in time.

    Fortunately, both vans maintained control of their vehicles and neither fish-tailed. That was a scary situation.

    For now on, I'm sitting in the back seat of the taxi cabs in Beijing!

    As we passed the van that was side swiped, I looked over and saw a few dents, paint scratches and the side mirror was busted! This van didn't even bother to chase the other van that hit it!

    Another problem is finding the language academy. The academy is located in an obscure pocket of side streets. The cab driver initially said he knew where it was but had to stop twice to ask for directions. He finally found the place though. At least we didn't drive through a long and narrow dirt trail this time!

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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