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.

Saturday, July 17th
Farewell to Beijing

Today's activities include:

  • Class Session. In our last class session, we basically reviewed the highlights of what we learned before. (getting a cab ride, bargaining, ordering in a restaurant, asking or giving directions, exchanging money, telling symptoms of sickness, likes and dislikes, sports, etc.) I'm still not comfortable with a few of those situations. I guess I need more practice.

    The course material, as a whole, was pretty good and I'm glad I attended. Speaking for myself, my Mandarin Chinese has improved markedly.

    The only drawbacks to the class is the teacher uses simplified Chinese characters which I had trouble understanding. I learned the traditional Chinese characters here in Los Angeles. The other drawback is the noisy air conditioner. Sometimes I couldn't hear clearly what other people in my class were saying. In a language class, you need to hear clearly!

    I should also say that I wished the class sessions started sooner. I was ready for class two days into the trip. You can fit in more class sessions too this way.

    Since this is the last day of class and as a way of saying thank you, I give the teacher, Liu Lao Shi, a NASA T-shirt (from JPL) and an inflatable astronaut for her 10 year old son. The astronaut is pretty cool except I discovered later that it was made in China! She seemed to like them.

  • Tentative Plan. The farewell party starts at 6:30pm today which gives me about 6 hours of free time. I need to check my email and pick up my 4 rolls of film that I submitted 3 days ago at the Kodak place.

    I also need time to pack my stuff. Cathy says that we can leave our souvenirs and other stuff behind that we don't need in Xi'an. Our rooms will be vacant during the week we're gone so we can leave it all here. This will make life easier all around.

  • Calling card. I bought two calling cards so far. They each cost me $50.00RMB. The first calling card I used to make 3 calls to the USA. The total amount of time used was about 2 minutes, not 3 minutes as advertised. I'm using my second calling only for local calls. I think I spent a good part of 2 hours on the card and still have over $40.00RMB left on it! So local calls appear to be very cheap.

  • This Afternoon. I pick up my pictures at the Kodak place but they only made pictures of 3 out of 4 rolls of film I dropped off. There was some controversy about the overcast pictures of the Temple of Heaven and they wanted my OK. I told them, yes, that was the real color of the pictures and go ahead and make them. They'll be ready on the 19th. I'll have to pick them up when I get back on the 22nd.

    By the way, they charge $1.00RMB for each 4X5 picture they make. There are no 4X6 sizes. Also, the 4X5 pictures only come in shiny prints. There is no matte print. There doesn't seem to be a charge for film development if you are buying the pictures too.

    The cyber cafe is almost full. I've never seen so many people here before. I guess it's because it's a Saturday afternoon. Fortunately, there are a few computers open and I manage to send out 4-5 email messages. Their Net connection seems very sluggish today. I also painfully upload the new daily entries to this webpage.

    Turns out Zhong guan cun, the computer market, is right next to Beijing University! I went inside and there are all these little computer stores but they had almost no customers here. Very strange, I thought.

    By this time it's 3:30pm and I need to pack for Xi'an. So I come back to the academy.

    [Taxi Receipt]

  • Farewell Dinner. After taking numerous group pictures, we settled in the dinner table. There were numerous toasts for the teachers and many thank yous. The food was plentiful and delicious. Then people started singing karaoke. After about the fifth song, I decided to make sure my Hong Kong hotel reservation is confirmed.

    To make a call from Beijing to Hong Kong, the prefix is 00852 and then you dial the HK phone number you are calling. I managed to get through tonight and everything is confirmed.

    I also call the new friends I made in Beijing to say goodbye. I managed to reach a few of them. They promise to write me.

    When I got back to the farewell dinner, Eugene and Andrew were doing Tai Chi for the crowd. Then another karaoke song. By this time, I wanted to get out and walk around. Maybe take a taxi. Probably the last night I'll be able to lurk in the streets of Beijing.

    At least for this year.

    When I got back to my room, I discover that Liu Lao Shi left a picture of Chinese bean art for me in my room. This was a surprise to me! I wasn't able to thank her personally but I thank her here on my webpage! Xie xie!

    Tomorrow I'm off to Xi'an!

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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