Monday, August 18, 2008

Beijing Update #2

Ni Hao!

It is currently 8:33AM TUESDAY, August 19th. We have had a blast in Beijing thus far and we haven't even gotten to any Olympic events yet.

On Sunday we went to the Great Wall. It was really amazing. Of course, my plan from way back when was to walk up a few steps to the Great Wall and then stand in amazement that I was there and then walk back down to the bus. I told CC and Lisa this months ago, but for some reason they didn't believe me. My plan was aces because at the end of the day I wasn't sweaty and near death. CC and Lisa on the other hand....well...

I made it to the second tower of the section of the Great Wall section we went too. CC and Lisa decided to keep going. CC quit at the third tower when her lungs began to fail. Lisa called CC a 'punk' and said she was going to keep climbing to the top. Lisa made it to the fourth tower (there were about six towers) before she lost feeling in her right hand and her left leg disintegrated. Both CC and Lisa came down from the steep portion of the wall covered in sweat and looking like they had been deserted on some far away island for 8 years. It was hi-larious!

Yesterday we went to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. It was pretty spectacular as well. TSq. is just this huge empty space with very famous Chinese landmarks like General Mao's mausoleum. The Forbidden City really is a city! There are something like 9000 palace rooms, an outer court, an inner court, garden, etc. Really, more of that place should be forbidden because it was so tiring to walk through it. It took us about four hours to walk around 1/10th of that place. So exhausting!

We're also really tired because we are something like celebrities in Beijing. EVERYONE wants to take our picture. At the Great Wall, all three of us were in different sections and separated from each other at some point, yet we all had the same experience-- random Asian people (Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, you name it!) asking to take pictures with us. It usually goes something like this...

Reese: [fanning herself on the Great Wall]

Random Japanese Girl [stands next to Reese and puts her arm around Reese]: 'Hello!'

Reese: 'Ummm...hi...'

Japanese Girl: 'Picture? Yes?'

Reese [laughs]: 'Okay.'

Japanese Girl: 'Smile!'

Her Friend takes the picture, then the Japanese Girl gets on the other side of Reese and takes another picture.

Japanese Girl: 'Thank you!!'

Reese: ' problem.'

This EXACT same experience happened to CC and Lisa. It was a thousand times worse in Tiananmen Square. We would pose for our own pictures and a ton of people would run toward us and start taking our pictures. So far TWENTY-FOUR people have ASKED to take pictures with us. This number does not count the gazillion people who just snap pictures of us as we walk down the street. At one point in our tour yesterday, it was like the Paparazzi were stalking us and our tour guide had to come rescue us from the all the people who were trying to to take our pictures. He literally had to pull us by the hand and tell the people in Mandarin 'no more pictures!' Ha!

Oh, and just to show you that Americans are not as color conscious as we think, the white people on our tour group were ASTOUNDED that Asian people would want to randomly take pictures of us just because we are Black Americans***. Literally, they couldn't believe it and a few, I think, thought it was racist behavior on the part of the Chinese/Japanese/Koreans. I mean, some seemed to be a little offended FOR us (not to be confused with jealousy). We weren't offended at all.

Anyways, today we're going to do a little shopping and then we're going to the Birds Nest stadium for track.

Anyways, I hope all is well with everyone. Another e-mail will be forthcoming in a few days!

Peace and Love,

Reese xoxo

***We've seen a few Africans. We noticed that no one was hounding them for pictures. I think the Asian people here seem to be able to distinguish Black AMERICANS from Africans. Black Americans are more rare I guess. FYI.


Beijing Update #1

Okay, everyone. So, I'm currently in Beijing right now and I'm having a BLAST. I know I said I would do some sort of blog from Beijing, and I am, but it's going to be in the form of the e-mails that I've sent out to friends and family. So, here is Beijing Update #1:

Beijing Day 1‏
From: Reesey Reese
Sent: Sat 8/16/08 2:02 AM
To: An assortment of People

Hello fam and friends,

CC, Lisa, and I have landed in Beijing at around 2:00pm Saturday, local time (2AM East Coast time). The flight was good, not too much turbulence and we made it through customs fine.

The hotel we're staying at is the Jinqiao Apartment Hotel. If I get a chance, I will upload some pictures later of the hotel. It's a suite and we have a little kitchen that even has a little washeing machine. But, the beds are not so great.

Holy cow! I don't know how the Chinese do it, but the beds are literally hard as rocks! It's so funny, because we anticipated fighting over who was going to have to take the cot to sleep. As it turns out the cot is waaayyyy more comfie than the beds! So, we're on a rotating cot schedule!

For our first adventure we went out to eat at a Korean BBQ restaurant. Yes, that's right, we traveled all the way to China to eat Korean food. BUT, it was authentic Korean food and it was really good. Of course, in the process of ordering the great Korean food we thoroughly embarrassed ourselves.

Of course there was a language barrier. We ordered a dish to share (as is the custom at the Korean BBQ), but then the waiter guy kept saying something to us in gibberish that we interpreted as 'You must order more.' What he was really saying was, 'You stupid Americans, that's way too much food.'

In the end, they brought out a ton of beef, and lamb, and rice, and other dishes that I have no idea of what it was. The waiter laughed at us when he saw our faces. We laughed at us when we saw all the food. Then we called our Tour Guide and he had to tell the waiter in Mandarin that we ordered too much food and that we wanted to pack it up to take back home. It was so very sad, yet funny at the same time.

Oh, and the best part was that the manager came over in the middle of the meal with the bill. We thought for sure it would be like a hundred bucks. Even the manager wondered if we would have the cash to pay for the meal --200 Yuan. Do you know how much that is in dollars? It's 30 bucks. When we saw it was 200 Yuan we were sooo happy. And the manager was shocked that we could casually pull out 100 Yuan each (CC didn't have her Chinese money yet) and pay the bill no problem. The people at the restaurant thought we were super rich.

Okay, so next we went to the Lake bar district which was all sorts of awesome. We immediately started buying things and haggling on the price. Then we wondered over to this bar that was playing hip-hop music. Inside were all these young Americans (20's/30's). They bought us drinks and a good time was had by all.

Okay, I'm really tired now as it is 2AM in the morning. Just to let you know Beijing is GORGEOUS!! There is ZERO pollution and in fact my sinuses have never been better. I may just have to move here! And the Chinese people are soooo nice. They really like us for some reason (they keep repeating everything we say; when we say 'okay' they giggle and say 'okay' really, really excited like; also, when CC was on the phone with the Tour Guide and said 'hello' one of the waiter dudes giggled and was like 'Hehehehehe, 'hello;' I don't know why, but they get a kick out of hearing Americans say 'hello' and 'okay.')

Anyhoo, the Great Wall is tomorrow. I'll let you know how it was.

Peace and Love,

Reese xoxox


Monday, August 11, 2008

China on My Mind

Hi all!

I was hoping to do a really cool post about planning my trip to China and my African ancestry results, but it looks like I just won't have the time. Anyhoo, this is just a post to say I'm leaving for Beijing on Thursday and HOPE to be able to post pictures and experiences and what not while I'm there. So, stop by here every now and then between the 17th and 24th. You may just see some great pictures of me and the crew (CC and Lisa) in Beijing.

For now I leave you with a hi-larious Slate take on the Chinese sports machine (although, please note that the Atlanta Olympics were in 1996, not 2000).

Okay, I'm off to get highlights and pack my luggage full of clothes I won't wear.

Pray for me and my safety. Ha!

Peace out for now!

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