Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Escape from a Bad Day

After that test fiasco this morning, I didn’t want to think about school. I got ahold of Donny and we headed to the bank because we both needed to start accounts. On our way out, I saw something new happening in the already congested traffic. Four or five men were pushing a bus into the street from my school’s south gate. I’m surprised that they didn’t die.

pushing cars

Banking went smoothly, and I now have a savings account at Bank of China. (And the bitter part of me says, “Oh yeah, I can open a bank account using Chinese, but I can’t do anything useful, right?” I know, I should let it go. I’m saying all kinds of unnecessary things.)

After the bank we tried to locate a webcam. Things like webcam are difficult to communicate when you don’t know the word. We did find one at a local electronics store, and we learned the word for it finally – shexiangtou. That’s one I don’t want to forget because it took so long to learn. Finding it provided an extra challenge for me since I have an Apple Powerbook, and I lack Windows. Discussing things like compatibility and operating systems is so impossible to do without proper vocabulary that it’s actually kind of comical. These women I talked to kept insisting that because my laptop had USB ports that the camera would work with my computer. “I don’t have Windows, though,” I’d say. “It doesn’t matter!” Tell Apple that.

Because there isn’t really anything to do on campus lately, we decided to then go to Wangfujing, a huge shopping district in central Beijing. I was there last time I was in Beijing, so I remembered a back street with all kinds of fun snacks. One of my favorites was skewered fruit with a carmelized layer of sugar covering it. I got a stick of grapes, and Donny got a stick of plum halves. Unfortunately, eating these gets your hands and face covered in liquid sugar, which manages to make the humidity feel worse than it did already. We found a KFC to wash our hands in.

amazing fruit

I walked around a gigantic mall at Oriental Plaza while we were still trying to find webcams we could use. We stopped in a Sony store on the off chance that they might have them. Not surprisingly the Sony store did not have webcams. They did, however, have Aibo, the robot dog. I couldn’t play with it even though it was out – it was leashed to a security device.

After the Sony store, I saw store called Romana that had ice cream that looked distinctly like the gelato that I ate everywhere in Rome, Anzio, and Nettuno. I had to try it because I was having such a bad day. To my delight, it tasted perfect. I got chocolate and hazelnut, the combination that became my twice daily usual in Italy. I know where to go when I’m feeling really awful now.

We headed back to campus after a few approaches by girls who wanted us to go see their art exhibitions. For those girls, we started pretending to be German or French so they couldn’t talk to us and take up our time. We caught a cab in an illegal stopping area with a policeman watching, and began a slow, car horn-filled trudge through traffic.


As a final note, I’ve eaten at the Muslim restaurant on campus twice today. I really love their hot and sour potatoes. That place is going to be my food place during the school year. I don’t know when that year begins yet, but we’ll all hopefully find that out soon. It has to be soon, right?


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