Dan Dot Blog

Based on a true story

Beijing Subway

Last day in Beijing. I’m on the subway now headed from my hotel at PKU down towards Tiennamen Square. I’ve been spelling it like five different ways so I doubt that’s correct. Just witnessed some nice civility. An elderly couple got on the train and there was only room to stand. They were ready to stand and weren’t looking aroud expectantly. Two people got up, one near me an the other a beautiful girl across the car, and actually tapped the old folks so that they’d see a seat had been opened for them. I also got up with them and some dude stole my seat, but whatever.

This is my first time being on my own in China, and I kind of like it. This whole trip I’ve been so reliant on Mandarin-speakers. I’m enormously grateful to them; they make this kind of travel possible, but at the same time it can make me a bit dependent and lose some agency. I’m accustomed to being a very independent traveler. I scout around for cheap hotels, navigate subways and public transit rather than shell out cash for taxis, and like to kind of scrap my way along.

That was the plan last time I was in China, and it was going well until I got massively sick and needed to rely on help. I think that’s forged this notion that in China I need to be taken care of. I got a touch of that independence back at the end of my last trip when I made my way back solo from Hangzhou to the Pudong airport, but still…

Hopefully today will be a shining beacon of my independence. Especially if I want my Mandarin to improve from the ~50 word vocabulary I have now, I need to start using it, and with a variety of speakers. I need to get more serious about my language learning back in the US though if I want to have a fighting chance. I could hardly fluff my way through Spain and I had studied that language for four years. I’m not sure how I expect to be able to totally half-ass my Mandarin and then get by.

I’m thinking today I’m going to hit up Tienneman and just kind of wander around. I just want to see the big photo of Mao, if nothing else. The forbidden city would be cool too, but I hear that’s a more time-intensive visit, and I don’t have much of that to spare. I’ve heard the “Temple of Heaven” is pretty neat, and I have a loose idea of where that is. I think Xiaobei will join me again tonight, and maybe we can go there together.

I’m really enjoying making connections with the Chinese students. Sure, it’s always fun to make friends, but some of them are really excitingly bright and I’m eager to see what kind of work they do when they enter academia as faculty. I hope I’m forging the kind of friendships now that I can leverage for fun and interesting
collaborations in the future, if this is the field I end up working in.

Well, it’s almost time to transfer trains so I should probably sign off soon. The subways here are really nice, some even cooler than the ones I saw in Beijing. I guess that when a country develops so rapidly, all the infrastructure is new and state of the art.

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April 12, 2010 - Posted by | Personal | , , ,

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