Trip Start Aug 08, 2007
Trip End May 19, 2008

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Crazy week this week with mid-terms, but I had a great weekend.

This past weekend Jess cashed in her fabulous prize from the Capital
Club ball and she, Cary, Patrick, and I went to the seaside city of
Qingdao for the weekend. We left early Saturday morning, but the flight
was only an hour. The hotel was nice, with Louie Viton and other
high-end name brand stores in the lobby and a gigantic chandelier in
the midst of a spiral stairway. At 11 we met Jessica who was from the
yacht company that sponsored the trip. We went out on the yacht, which
I guess was nice. I know nothing about yachts. We got to ride in the
front and got bounced around and we went out to an island for lunch. My
first ride out on the ocean was great, the weather was perfect. Cool
but bright an sunny. Plus there's hardly any pollution in Qingdao so
the sky was bright blue, and the ocean was beautiful, emraldy blue.

The dock of the island was covered with drying fish caught on old blue
wooden boats that look like something straight out of early 19th
century imperial China. We ate in a small restaurant and had fresh
seafood. There were also a lot of firsts. Crab, jumbo shrimp, oysters,
and some other things we just didn't know what they were. Then we got
to explore the island a bit. I felt like a little kind getting to climb
around all the rocks along the shore. We all sat for awhile and watched
all the waves and talked about how awesome large bodies of water are.
Rivers just can't compare, sorry St. Louis.

On the way back they let Patrick drive the boat. Then Jess tried and
almost killed it swerving every which way and throwing us around. That
was the end of letting us drive the boat. Then we came across another
larger yacht owned by the same company and we raced and rode their
waves. We got bounced around and then completely splashed. Nothing like
salt water all over your face.

We also passed by one of the old wooden boats with some old fisherman
on it. It was strange to be juxtaposed between a giant yacht full of
ridiculously wealthy Chinese living a modern Western lifestyle, foreign
clothes foreign cars, and an old wooden boat with elderly Chinese men
still wearing the black king-fu slippers and navy blue shirt and slacks
of laborers.

After the boat ride we grabbed some more food and showered. Then we
hung out in our hotel room in the provided bathrobes and slippers and
did absolutely nothing for the rest of the night but be lazy. It was

The next day Cary and I woke up and walked along the shoreline while
Jess and Patrick continued to be lazy. It was another beautiful, sunny,
pollution free day and we meandered along all the outdoor seaside
market. Lots of seashells and pearls to buy. Cary got a crab shaped ash
tray that was pretty awesome. We grabbed coffee on an outdoor balcony
and enjoyed the winds coming off the ocean and people watched. Then we
came across the German part of town. Qingdao was a German colony and
there's a whole neighborhood composed of old German houses. The houses,
the trees, even the design of the streets made me feel like I was in
Europe not China.

We met up with the others and then went to the Qingdao brewery, the
place to see in Qingdao. Qingdao is the first beer in China, started by
Germans, and is the most common in China. The brewery tour was alright,
kind of lame really. There was a part on environmental protection that
was really random. There was a wall of pictures of smog in London and
the Chernobyl disaster and somehow this had to do with beer........? At
the end of the tour we got a free pitcher of fresh beer and a Qingdao
salt shaker. Cool, right?

We grabbed dinner and then were soon back at the airport. After an hour
delay of our flight and a domestic airport with no English papers or
magazines, we finally made it back to Beijing. The trip was brief, but
a great break after a rough week of writing papers and a refresher for
this week of Chinese midterms.

Tomorrow is the written part of the examination. The oral part was
today, and went well I think. Had to read a passage and then draw a
topic from a pile of cards and talk about it for about five minutes. I
got to talk about my daily life in Beijing, yay. Tomorrow is the
written part and should be pretty intense, but I'm not to worried. Then
it's off to Guilin. I can't wait! Soon to come: another giant journal entry!
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