Mandarin for beginners in Beijing
Restless of Auckland
Roland and Consie Lennox-King
Tue 29 May 2007 00:24
Ni hao? I'm putting in a log from Beijing amongst the Atlantic crossing logs. I hope you are all enjoying James' emails, it sounds as if they are having a great voyage, and thanks to all of you who have been sending tuna recipes. You can stop now. To read more about Beijing, go to Livi's blog, with dozens of photos.
I arrived in Beijing on 7 May to stay for a month with Olivia, while Restless sailed from Bermuda to the UK and I stayed in Olivia and Debi's flat with them, in Wudaoko. My twin (Xwang bao tai) Feyona and her daughter Anna came for 2 weeks, and stayed in a hotel at the other side of town, which meant a taxi ride of 1 to 1.5 hours every day to meet up. We fitted in as much sightseeing as we could, with Livi as our translator/ bargainer. First things first - shopping! (How much: Duo shao qian? Too much: tai guai le!) Tailor, silk market, pearl market, antique market. We bought a few things to make the flat a bit more homely, red cushions, towels, painting, lamps, plants, a goldfish, a coffee plunger. Olivia had the worst food poisoning I have ever seen, and I was lucky to have James' doctor dad in NZ on skype to advise me.
At last I met Feyona's friend and Livi's fairy godmother, Bei Bei who helped Livi to settle in to Beijing, she is opening a health spa. Feyona painted 3 large paintings for her while we were here, and brought some of her sculptures to display in the spa. Bei Bei took us to many restaurants and we ate Beijing dishes we had not eaten before, as well as Peking duck in a restaurant, Quanjude, that serves between 2,000 and 5,000 ducks a day, with plum sauce, rolled in pancakes, soups, sauces, salad.
We went to the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall (Chang Chung - we went to Mutienyu), the Hutongs, the 56 Cultural Minorities Centre, the National Art Gallery and Tian'anmen Square. Beijing is huge, the new buildings are as impressive as the ancient ones. No matter what you have heard about the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City or the Great Wall, they are better in real life. You could spend a week at each and not see everything. You could see a thousand pictures and still not have seen everything. (Feyona and I took over 1,000 photos.)
The whole city seems to be under reconstruction for the Olympics, will it be ready in time? The new stadium looks like a birds nest. Schools have been set aside to teach English, and half a million people will have compulsory holidays in the country. All the hotels are fully booked. Many thousands of people have volunteered to help, including Bei Bei. If you are coming, learn some Mandarin, you will need it. Olivia will be here until the end of August, then she goes to Hong Kong.
Peking duck is very nice, but how about some seahorses, scorpions and beetles on a stick (still wriggling)?
Tienanmen Square gives you a strange feeling, how could one man have so much power.
Shopping in Beijing is great for bargains, if you have the weight allowance.
But you need a translator? Who you going to call? Olivia!
Zai jian! Gei tian jian!