Beijing Opera & Innerds Soup

Trip Start Jun 03, 2013
Trip End Aug 25, 2013

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Monday, August 12, 2013

At about 8:30 my roommates got up. I was still in bed at 8:47 when I got a phone call to tell me I had a class in 10 minutes. Uh, ok. Apparently, they forgot to let me know ahead of time. Today I had one student, a 12-year-old girl in middle school. I guess a couple more students will join the class tomorrow. So I will be teaching for my remaining weekdays until I go home.

Some of the guys that just came back from camp went to the Great Wall today. I could have gone, but I knew it would be hot and I've already been there, so I decided not to go. They would have been a fun group to be with though. Hopefully, I can do something with them tomorrow before they all go home.

Ada's flight was delayed last night coming back from Xiamen, so she didn't get in until 4:00 a.m., poor girl. She slept in, then texted me. She asked if I wanted to do the Summer Palace, but I wasn't up for it. My head is hurting a little today.

We decided to do the Beijing Opera at a tea house. We got cheap seats (180 RMB), which were towards the back of the small theater. But it was totally fine. It also included tea, a sliced peach, toffee peanuts, and jujubes that I thought were dates (tasted just like them).

They did two operas, one a love story about an emperor and his concubine that he took to battle with him, and when things weren't going well, people blamed him for taking the concubine. She committed suicide, and then later, so did he. Ada told me the story before we watched the show.

Also, there were occasional subtitles on a screen in Chinese and in English. This is because even Chinese people can't understand the words. The words of the Beijing Opera are very old, kind of like Shakespeare to English-speaking people--very nearly another language! One thing that was baffling to me was the voice of the concubine...she sounded like a cat. Her voice was so shrill and high pitched, but that is the style. It is a little bit harsh on Western ears, though.

The other opera was the story of the Monkey King, which was really just a lot of acrobatics and sword play, but great fun to watch. The Monkey King rocks! Anyway, I enjoyed it a lot. You can go to the big concert house and see a big, expensive production, but I really like the intimate, fun atmosphere of the tea house.

After that we walked a little and talked about the different areas of Beijing. We were currently in the southern part, which historically was the poorer area of Beijing. I really liked the feel of the area we walked in; it was not so crowded and fast-paced, a little more relaxed, a little more enjoyable.

We then took the subway to Ping'anli. There is an old street that has newly been established as a food street. We went into one eating place that is mainly for breakfast, but it was full of people. I got some sweet bread-type things. Ada got some soups that she wanted me to try.

One is a soup that distinguishes a Beijinger from the rest of the folks in the world, called Douzhir. It's a soup that is eaten at breakfast, made from the throwaway leftovers of the soybean. It smells disgusting. I tried it. I survived it. I had a spoonful, then I had to have another spoonful after a bite of this fired dough-ring thing and a bite of this pickled stuff, and that did make it taste a little better. I'm no Beijinger though.

The other soup was full of innerds. I don't like innerds. I tried the soup part, and it was ok. I had no desire to eat any of the organ meats. Ada won't even eat the liver, but she ate the other stuff. I told her I only eat that stuff if it's covered in a lot of sauce!

Then we found another tiny restaurant that had her most favorite dish, one that she misses the most when she is in L.A. It's a Sichuan dish where you pick out skewers of different things (veggies and whatnot), and then they cook it up in this most delicious saucy soup. I had to agree; it's fabulous!

Then we had to get back, or at least I did. I made it about 5 minutes to 10. Now I am waiting for my roommates to get back, hopefully before midnight. I will have to go downstairs to let them in. Oh, there's a new roommate for one night: Aga from England, I think.

Tomorrow I will finally meet the director. Apparently there are two students who want to go to famous Beijing places with me. I have no idea what that means. I guess I will find out. 

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