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.

Background Information

The last time I was in Beijing was in 1989. For those of you who remember, it was a very special year in Beijing's history (hint: Tiananmen Square). I was in Hong Kong in the late summer of 1989 and it seemed China was about to close it's doors to tourists again. I felt I should visit this country now or maybe wait another 20 years before China lets in tourists again. But that is another story.

Fast forward. It is now 1999. I just recently took about a year of Mandarin Chinese classes and want to improve my conversational skills. This trip to Beijing, China was organized by, Cathy Wei, a teacher at the University of Southern California (USC) and at Pasadena City College (PCC), and, Caroline Huang, a teacher at Venice High School. The main points of this trip is to learn conversational Mandarin Chinese from Beijing instructors and to learn more about the culture of China through numerous sight-seeing day excursions. Of course, it doesn't hurt to have fun while you are doing these things! I felt this would be perfect for me.

1999 is the third consecutive year this Beijing trip has been organized and each year is an improvement over previous years as to scheduling of classes and number of sights to see. The cost is approximately $2700 per person this year which includes airfare, room and board, classes and sight-seeing day trips for 26 days. A really good deal considering what you are getting.

While Cathy Wei and Caroline Huang have done a super job in planning and organizing these trips. I have found there are gaps of information still left opened. Or a lack of information altogether. I will try to fill these gaps in the course of my description of this trip.

We will be spending approximately 3 weeks in Beijing and about 4.5 days in Xi'an. Then most of the group will return to Los Angeles but I will continue my vacation to Hong Kong. (Hey, life is rough.) I include a map of China below showing the cities I will have visited circled in red.

[Map of China]
(Derived from a public domain map of China from the
Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection
at the University of Texas at Austin)

My original intention was to keep a daily log of the activities in my trip which I could upload onto a webpage for my friends to see. However, I have discovered access to the Internet from the language academy at Beijing to be very slow (28.8K baud shared by eight Win95 computers! And no FTP!) and the hours of their computer lab to be limited. So I will update this webpage when I can (hopefully daily).

I do intend to put up pictures of my trip but it will have to be after I get back to the USA. I do not have access to a flatbed scanner while in Beijing and did not bring a digital camera.

10/20/99 Update - I finally received the big box I mailed to myself from Hong Kong (HK) which contained most of my pictures of China. I will be scanning selected pictures onto this trip report very soon.

Some of my descriptions of this trip may not be favorable. I am just telling it as it is from a consumer's and from a student's point of view.

Related Links

  • Summer 1998 Study Abroad in China
    Description of last year's program in China. Problems: In the daily journals, day 18 and day 19 have the same entry and the entry for day 20 is blank!?

  • Summer 1997 Study Abroad in China
    The first year of the program in China. They really should move this webpage to another server. Geocities is notoriously slow in responding.

China 1999 My Writings Al's Wild Web Page

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Last updated : October 26, 1999
Copyright 1999 Al Wong, Los Angeles, California, USA
All Rights Reserved