Spring is here

Trip Start Feb 27, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of China  , Beijing,
Sunday, May 12, 2013

The heat has well and truly settled into Beijing Just a few weeks ago, I was wearing my warmest winter coat anytime I was outside (and mostly in the classroom, too), but now the temperatures have broken into the 30s, and the mosquito season has officially begun.  I had no idea mosquitos existed here, let alone were so prevalent.  I have seven mosquito bites on my left leg alone!  Yesterday we also had a bit of a sand storm, which meant it was pretty uncomfortable any time you were outside. I skulled bottles of water each time I returned inside, trying to get rid of the dust lodged in my throat.
Out have come the mosquitos, as have the language partners.  Language partners are a really popular way for foreign students and Chinese students to mix together and help each other out with language.  They practice English, we practice Chinese.  It is pretty easy for a foreign student such as myself to find a language partner, as the number of native Chinese speakers far outweigh the number of native English speakers.  It means that it can often be awkward turning people down, because there is just not enough time to help everybody.  If you're standing outside for long enough by yourself, you will most likely be approached by somebody.   

This weekend, Ian and Emily took me out again.  We went to a Japanese restaurant first, which provided us with so much food that we had to take some home.  It was a pretty restaurant, too.   From there, we went to a puzzle place Emily had heard about.  It is a place where you go into a room, and have to figure out the puzzle to find the code to unlock the door into the next room  There were 3 rooms we had to uncover.  It is just a converted apartment, and many of the decorations for the puzzles were hand drawn.
The first room had five clocks, maths problems and a clock full of letters to make you try and figure out the four code lock to the next door.  We were in this little cupboard for over 40 minutes, with only figuring out one number.  In the alphabet clock, they missed out the letters I, S and X, which led us to conclude that one of the numbers was six  We had to call for assistance, and they gave us clues to help us move on to the next room.  The next room we used special torches to see invisible ink to try and figure out the next clues.   We had to call for assistance again.  The last room was, again, too tough, so they helped us out too.   Emily often would examine the puzzle, ponder, then come up with a number.  Assuming she got it, we asked how she figured it out, but she just said it was women's intuition, it was very funny.  The last room was very obviously a converted bathroom, so it was a little unusual to have this exhibit thing there. With our egos severely bruised, we left, comforted in the knowledge that most people can't clear the first room either.  It was a fun afternoon, and I loved doing something completely different. 
We went out for ice cream, and then they helped me find some medicine for my mosquito bites.

On Tuesday, I went to Black Sesame Restaurant, the restaurant rated highest in Beijing on Trip Adviser. It was located in the shared courtyard of a hutong. It was really hard to find, but as the owner Jen explained, it was part of their charm. It really felt like a hidden secret. Jen is an American who also studied at BLCU, as did their manager, Michelle, so that was really cool. Jen said that when she studied there, the area around BLCU, Wudaokou was mostly farmland, with just yellow vans as taxis.  How it has changed!  We sat on a communal table with six other people, and we shared the ten courses that came out. The food was absolutely delicious, but my favourite part was actually sitting and chatting with the other people at our table. Two people were a couple, around 60-70, on their first trip to China, and the other four were a group of friends, two of whom lived in Beijing with their kids. We were laughing all night, especially when John, one of the older gentlemen shared his wisdom, such as 'lotus root is an aphrodisiac'. The whole experience was really fun, from finding the restaurant nestled in amongst the ancient buildings, watching the chefs work in the open kitchen, eating the food and chatting with people we have never seen before. 

On Saturday I went to San Li Tun, a district a little way away from my school to celebrate a friend's birthday.  This area is known for attracting the tourists, as it has the high end shopping, as well as a bar street and many clubs. It feels different to other parts of Beijing, because it is so clean and full of Westerners, but I enjoyed going there. It was fun to dance around and celebrate Melissa's 25th with her and some other friends.
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Lyn on

How quickly the weather changes for where you are and here too. It,s now cold and we,ve had over 100 ml of rain in the last week. Good for the garden.
Thanks for the blog and remember us to Ian and Emily xxx

Joan Jay on

What wonderful blogs you write. I can almost picture the puzzle place and the restaurant. Hope you have the addresses so mum and I can visit. Sorry about the mosquitoes - a can of fly spray might be handy! Iam and Emily are being so kind - you are lucky.....love nanna xxxx

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