Trip Start Feb 27, 2013
44Trip End Ongoing
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Dad, Hayley and I spent quite a few hours throughout the week shopping some more, as I have not really been to the markets since I have arrived. It was good to go to some places where you can bargain, and find a reasonable price. These markets are where the Chinese cheaper prices really are, as department stores are priced very similarly to back home.
This week was also coincided with the Tomb Sweeping Festival, so I was lucky enough to have Thursday and Friday off classes. The Tomb Sweeping Festival is one where Chinese traditionally return to their hometowns to tend to their ancestors' tombs. The public holiday is actually just from Thursday-Saturday, so most employers make their employees work Sunday as a normal working day to make up for the long weekend. I can't imagine that system going down too well in Australia, if employers asked their employees to work Sunday, without the bonuses of double-time or holiday rates, just being paid as if it was Monday. I have a feeling many people will be feeling extra tired this Friday afternoon.
We also caught up with Ian and Emily a few times. Ian was Dad's childhood neighbour, and so they always enjoy going out together when in the same country. Chinese tradition indicates that the eldest person at the table will pay the bill, and so Ian and Emily have not let me pay the several times they have invited me to dinner, so I enjoyed Dad (being the oldest, though we try not to remind him!) treating everyone
We also met up with Jane, a Chinese dentist who has struck up a close friendship with our family the last 5 years, at her clinic, and then at her apartment for dinner another night. After either eating at restaurants or in the cafeteria for the past 5 weeks, I had really missed home cooking. It was so nice to eat fresh, hot, and lovingly prepared food. Jane and her friend Alene cooked a feast, and I was so full by the end of the meal.
To top off a week of catch-ups, Hayley and I also saw Rebecca and Sammy. Dad was stuck in the hotel room with bad food poisoning, but we all still had a great night. Everyone was so surprised with how Hayley has grown up. Rebecca bought us some cute presents from her business trip to Finland, and Sammy bought us some Chinese desserts. We are so spoiled!
The football is an important part of our lives back home, and we had been planning for weeks how we were going to watch the huge Collingwood v Carlton game. Being in Beijing has not shielded me from all the football news, and I read every article I could in the lead up to the game. The game itself we watched off my laptop, as I had subscribed to a website which streams the games live. We hooked up the laptop to the television in the hotel via a HDMI cable and watched it like that
We also went to Tiananmen Square. It was closed, which we found quite unusual. Guards lined the barriers on each side, and guards on the other side of the road made sure you did not think about crossing. There were plain red flags, Chinese flags, Australian flags, Finnish flags and Cambodian flags lined outside the Forbidden City across from Tiananmen Square, so we are not sure if there is a conference or something to do with these countries which is why the Square was closed. I know Julia Gillard is here at the moment, so perhaps that is a reason.
It has been a fantastic week. It was really nice to have a few days break with my family, and to meet up with some good friends again. It has felt like a little mini-holiday, and I feel refreshed and excited for the next few weeks!