Dan Dot Blog

Based on a true story

Farewell Beijing

I’m on the train now headed south to Nanjing and then on to Shanghai (and Connie, woo!). This will be an exciting trip in travel abroad.

I bought a deluxo-seat on an ultra-modern train. These trains would be the envy of Eurorail and put Amtrak to utter shame. I guess I actually got a bed rather than a seat. The D class trains that run between Beijing and Shanghai are the pride of the fleet and boast truly flat bed experiences for those willing to shell out upwards of 600 RMB (~ $90). For those on a budget there seem to be decent regular seats more in the 300 RMB range.

It was a pretty exciting and hurried trip to the train station. Zhi hui, my new buddy from the coffee shop at Jingshan park, recommeded that I take a bus or taxi to the nearest subway station. Once I got my bearings, I opted to walk to Tiananmen West instead, failing to take into account how far North-South the Forbidden City runs.

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April 12, 2010 Posted by | Personal | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sad Pandas and Happy Dan

I spent the evening tonight visiting Hou Hai, a kind of touristy lake-ish thing surrounded by bars, kitschy shops, and fun people. It had some great and interesting food. I had some tasty strawberry mousse, ate some kind of tasty pancake-ish thing that took forever to cook, and a bunch of crab-apples on a stick. Crab-apples are kind of yucky, but these ones were glazed in sugar, so that was cool. I could only eat about 4 of the approximately 500 crab apples on my 3 RMB skewer before I was ready to throw up a sugary mess, but it was a fun ride while it lasted. It also here that I got what will surely be one of my greatest travel mementos of all time.

PANDA HAT!

People who know me well know that I have no special love for pandas. Their Chinese name, though admittedly cute, is stupid, too. Bear cat? Come on. They’re lazy, dirty, kind of mean, and yet they’re totally idolized. In all honesty I don’t have any thing against pandas, but I feel like I need to do my part to balance out all of their undeserved love. So imagine the great opportunity for irony when I saw people walking around wearing these adorable Panda heads! Ultimately I think the hat looked better on my friend Xiaobei, but I won’t post the picture of her wearing the hat so that I can continue looking cute in mine.

I’m just wrapping up work in Beijing now. Tomorrow will be my last chance to do tourist stuff in Beijing so I’m planning on visiting the Temple of Heaven, Tienanmen Square, and maybe the Forbidden City. I think its name in Chinese is much less exciting because whenever I say it in English nobody knows what I’m talking about until I point at a map, and they dismissively say something in Chinese.

Tomorrow night I’ll catch a sleeper train bound for Shanghai where I’ll hang out with Connie (and do laundry, woo!) for a couple days, then catch a train out to Suzhou. There I’ll meet Izzie, a friend of my friend Jing who will show me around Suzhou. I’ll stay there for a couple days then visit Hangzhou for a weekend. Hopefully this time around in Hangzhou I won’t be sick and my friends there won’t have to take care of me. After that it’s back to Shanghai for a day or two before I fly to Hong Kong where I’ll bum around my friend Frankie’s apartment, visit Kowloon and HK, and maybe poke around the Chinese University of Hong Kong and even sit in on a lab meeting or two. After that it’s back to Chicago for a mini-vacation with my awesome fantastic buddies Adam and Mary Kate, and then just a short ride on the Megabus back to Ann Arbor. I think I counted it up, and I’ll sleep in a total of 6 different beds on this trip before I make it back to my own. So far I’ve only been in one hotel, so it’s time for my vacation to heat up.

Because I’ll be away from the lab for 2 whole weeks (woah!) I’m going to try to assuage my work-guilt by continuing to, uhm, work remotely. Honestly I think travel is a good chance to get some good projects done on days when I don’t feel like going out. That way I can work where there’s nobody to bother me, and also not feel like a total bum when I feel lazy and don’t want to take advantage of all the awesome adventures that are waiting just beyond my hotel doorstep.

In my rambling narration to a crummy video I took on my way home tonight, I mentioned that being in China, at least where I am, kind of feels like staying at camp. The bathrooms are kind of crummy and gross, the food ranges from awesome to bizarre, not everybody is nice to you, and the paths leading around are often uneven and littered with random stuff, but despite all of the wacky environment, everybody bonds, you collect all sorts of cool and cheap tchotchkes wherever you go, take tons of pictures, and promise everyone you’ll write, but usually don’t.

I had this clever plan to start a “days without sickness in China” calendar/counter on the side of my blog, but unfortunately it would be reset at 0 at the moment. Although I’m 99% sure this is not the kind of trip-ending serious illness I had last time and is instead just a lame-o cold, I was pretty freaked out at first when I felt myself getting a sore throat a couple days ago. I spent virtually all of yesterday in my hotel room, reading Malcolm Gladwell (on Blink right now), watching the Cleveland Show on Hulu, or eating KFC that Jie graciously brought me. I only went out for about an hour for lunch, and when I got back what was supposed to be a nap quickly turned into bedtime. I’m glad that was the case though, because I quickly finished the sore throat phase of my head cold and have moved on to waning congestion. My appetite has also resurged which usually means I’m getting healthier.

Well, I should probably sign off and get some sleep to try to finish my recovery. I’m starting to sneeze rapidly, so that’s probably my cue to take some nyquil, which I happily brought in great quantities with me this time.

April 11, 2010 Posted by | Personal | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beijing

Well I finally made it to Beijing! I guess I actually arrived last Saturday, but things have been so crazy busy I haven’t had time to write, but I want to try to start keeping a more consistent journal here. Otherwise, the task of writing a comprehensive update starts to get daunting so I put it off and it just gets to be an ever heftier writing assignment 😛

I arrived very well rested and full of energy thanks to my awesome flight arrangements (thanks Adam!) and got a lift from the airport to my hotel from Lu Li, the husband of a colleague who lives in Beijing.

I’m in China primarily to work to get a new study set up that will be run at both Bei Da (Peking University) and the Psych Institute at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Xiaobei is a student at Bei Da who has been really helpful to me. We became buddies in Shanghai when we both attended ICDL last summer and she has been a great companion for this trip, as well.

So far I’ve been eating lots of yummy food (pictured: giant fish head), I hiked a big section of the great wall which was crazy intense (very vertical and falling apart), and have gotten a lot of good work done academically. I’d love to write more but my battery is dying so I’ll sign off for now, but more is coming soon 🙂

I hope everyone back home is doing well!

Heart,

Daniel

April 8, 2010 Posted by | Personal | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Being the Only White Person Around

I remember really liking this post when I read it a long time ago, but I wasn’t quite sure why. Something about the image felt really familiar. I was flipping through photos from China and found what I was looking for.

Click the first picture to jump to the full “Stuff White People Like” entry.

"Being the Only White Person Around"

From Stuff White People Like: "Being the Only White Person Around"

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Daniel eating duck in Shanghai

Daniel eating duck in Shanghai

February 3, 2010 Posted by | Personal | , , , | Leave a comment