Monday, December 31, 2012

June 18; d&d the final round

Day 134

Last week, we were told the processing time of getting a Chinese visa would be 3 hours. It was hard to believe, but hey they know more about the system than we do.  Today, we take a two hour bus ride and wait another 2 hours for our turn in line only to find out that the processing time takes 5 days. Fckng shit are you kidding me right now... We walk away from the fancy bureau with whatever we came in with and nothing more but utter disappointment...
After eating my feelings back at the dorm, I feel a bit better. It’s time for the final game of dungeons and dragons.

 The story thus far: The crew must retrieve information about Årkiva in order to claim their reward. After travelling for three days, the crew arrives at their final destination, a deserted wharf town. The story left off after the discovery of a secret passage.

The crew cautiously makes their way down the lightless flight of stairs. With a little help of magic, the area becomes visible and we see three paths. Mance Rayder decides to part ways and as a result we all fell apart. Camino and Godric do not find anything of interest on their path. Anteres and Atticus find a room of dead bodies, and Mance Rayder and Eppy find a swampy area with some fishy looking bad guys. Mance Rayder and Ippy engage in battle with the enemies, but being outnumbered wear them both out.  In critical condition and almost drowning in the swamp, Murdoch (Tom) appears in their chamber to help them out. The sound of combat echoes through the underground and reunites the crew to the swamp chamber.  The battle is won and the crew continues on to the last chamber together. The chamber is occupied by a giant lobster and his seamen. They do not speak English, but one of Anteres’ skill is understanding the language of aquatic. Anteres speaks with them and discovers that something is coming to claim ÅrkivaÅrkiva will soon be swallowed by the sea. Murdoch examines the room and finds a secret door. The chamber holds plenty of valuable items and some pews. At the front of the room lie the missing town folks. The dead folks are bundled together with one man who gasps for breathe. The water begins to rise and the crustacean warns the gang to leave or they will be trapped underwater. The crew leaves the town behind, watching the wet sea cover every trace of the deserted town. As dusk arrives, the gang finds a place to camp out for the night. A spirit approaches them and invites them to check out a clandestine area which holds secrets that may be of value. Murdoch willingly follows the little spirit to a little cave. The spirit reveals himself to be Odo the Trickster. Inside the cave lies a shebear with her two cubs. So much for treasure. They leave the cave and see the Trickster again. This time, Camino follows Odo to an empty cave with inscriptions on the walls. Back at camp, Mance Rayder is heavily asleep.

Back in the real world, it’s late and we call it a night. That ends the final session of D&D in BJ.

Things I will miss about BJ: playing dungeons and dragons
Things I won’t miss about BJ: miscommunication

Sunday, December 30, 2012

June 17; Happy Father's Day Papa John!

Day 133
It's the first year I did not celebrate Father's Day with my dad this year. It's the longest I've had been away from my dad, let alone home (but honestly, I wouldn't change the way things have went). I called home and woke him up from his slumber to give him a quick wish and then let him go back to sleep, just to let him know that I remembered : )
In celebration of that hallmark holiday called Father's Day, the girls decided to treat our papa to Pyro's Pizza.  It slowly became a routine that late night Saturdays would often be followed by all you can eat pizza on Pyro Sundays, even in the absence of half-birthdays. It was a routine that I was warming up to and starting to love.
gonna miss this place!
condiments are scarce
mmmmm salad. 
Photo Cred: Cat
With our stomachs full of food, we went to Chaoyang Park for a picnic. We started to make our way to the park when we realized we turned too soon. So we sat in the shade and took pictures and ate food.
We eventually made our way to the park. We were all pretty stuffed, hot, and tired so lying on the grass beside the lake in the shade was the most fitting "activity".
There was a mini amusement park inside but the rides were either closed from the day or broken.
feeding the goldfish milk. what the...
Chaoyang Park admission fee: 5 RMB

We met with our friend Jeff for dinner at one of my personal favourite restaurants in Beijing, Annie's.
Fusillini with porcini mushroom = 28 RMB
And there ended my final food filled weekend in Beijing.

I will miss: Pyro Sundays and Annie's
I won't miss: the way pizza buffets are. (You sit at the table the waiter brings you pizza slice by slice. You have to wait for your food.)

June 16; packing requirements? Check. Party ready? double check

Day 132

Kristie and I went across town early in the morning to pick up some essentials at Yashow Market: a backpackers bag and a suitcase. After just under 2 hours of searching for the best deal and quality good, we walked away with the second largest suitcase we could find (the first was called the hippo and definitely exceeded regulation size) for 140 RMB and a "North Face" backpackers bag for 125 RMB. It was a bit over the budget but at least we could finally start packing. On our way back to the dorm, we took a black taxi (not licensed taxi) back to the dorm. That dirty old bastard tried to scam us for double on what we agreed on. At that point, I was fed up with bargaining and people trying to take advantage of us so I went off in English. I was pretty sure the man did understand a word I was saying, but he still got the message. 

We went to a couchsurfing event with Aunty Tom in the afternoon. As some of us were planning to be future surfer of couches, it was be a good way to meet people and learn more about the CS community. Everyone was really nice and easy to talk to. The ones who had been surfing had only good things to say about their experiences. I can't wait to start surfing! 

After the meeting we headed off to meet the gang for some delicious Korean food at the restaurant that started it all: Salangbang.
celebrities have been here
the gang
Photo Cred: Cat
no more makeoli
Photo Cred: Cat
Things we did that night: post-dinner/pre-party at Wu
The Canadians (un)
Photo Cred: Cat
The Canadians (deux)
Photo Cred: Cat
Club hopping! Dancing on platforms and stages! Having a fantastic time-ing! mmm, but all good things come to an end.To end off the night/starting off the new day at 4:00, we had an impossibly close encounter with a truck moving too fast for its own good. I thank the taxi man for swiveling over to the wrong lane and avoiding something I would have imagined to be something that looked like smithereen.

Things I'll miss about BJ: partying all night
Things I won't miss about BJ: dangerous driving

June 15; kung fu food and they say thanks with more food

Day 131
More endings! It's the last day of being a legit foreign exchange student. We celebrate it with some of our new Chinese friends and the professor at a unique concept restaurant called Feng Bo Zhuang. It has a really cool traditional kung fu theme where the decor replicates and create an atmosphere where it feels like you're actually on set in an old kung fu movie. To top that off, the staff are dressed in old fashioned kung fu uniforms. Ordering is sort of a la carte. The servers bring dishes to the table and if you want it, than you take it. If you don't want it, they'll take it back. You pay for what you eat. To my minimal understanding, the server does take requests and offers suggestions so dishes are not completely arbitrary.
our friends =)
also, you can kind of see the decor. 
"friendship noodles"
 long noodles represents longevity and lasting friendships
Dining set. The cup with the spout is for Chinese rice wine
and just like that, it's all over. One of the best classes I have ever taken in university has come to an end. Farewell liu xuesheng (international student) life.

After just under five months of working, the school graciously gives their thanks by organizing a thank you/farewell party for the soon to be departing Canadians. We could not have survived without the presence of our wonderful foreign teacher friends, so of course they were in attendance as well. The principal of the school even made it out to say thanks.
Whoever ordered the food did a fantastic job. Also, our professor bought over some fancy Canadian ice wine which is pictured in the cute little champagne glasses
Photo Cred: TanG
We kept the party at Xi'erqi tonight/called it an early night.

On a final note: do not take directions from me. ever. (thank goodness I have such nice friends)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

June 14; goodbye my minies!

Day 130

Yesterday I said goodbye to my first class. At the end of the class, they attacked me with hugs and I literally felt trapped. The Chinese teacher came in and saved me though. Today, I said goodbye to the remaining three classes. They showered me with hugs and little gifts. Some students had cards ready made for me and others made cards during class. When the students who did not have anything prepared saw the other guys leave little things on my desk, they started to pull out things from their pencil cases: scissors, erasers, markers, pens, and other stationary things. They would have had better use of it than I would, however I could not decline their extremely generous and kindhearted gifts. It was all too adorable and sad. One of my little girls, Mary, even started to cry.
some cards I got from one of my classes
This made me smile/laugh.
I'm really impressed with the correct usage of apostrophes.
It was my last day of teaching in Beijing and I am really going to miss those little guys.

June 12; starting of seasons and closing off the semester

Day 128

My friend gave me a dose of Chef Gordon Ramsay today: the premier episodes of Masterchef AND Hell's Kitchen. Yumm.
As I munch on my mac and cheese (I mistakenly chose the weird sweetened milk from the cafe instead of normal milk which made it taste weird so I loaded it with pepper to cover the weird milk taste), I watch some Ramsay. When my mac and cheese and tv time ends, I look up at the room and realize it is not my mom's room, the room where I would normally watch Ramsay's shows. I kind of miss the unnecessary commentary my mother usually gives while watching reality shows. After daydreaming about home, I return back to write my final essay. Ugh, ya it's not all fun and games. I have to write essays and journals too.

On another note, I ran into our head coordinator/boss/go-to-person today and she is organizing a farewell party for us. You know time is running out when you have final papers to write and farewell parties to attend.  : (

June 11; who needs tv when you've got the internet

Day 127
Patio dinner with a few of our favourite friends =)

It turns out that Tanjin and I are not the only ones who watch HBO's True Blood. With the North American season premiere yesterday, we had a little True Blood viewing party with a little help of Tanjin and her magical internet powers. Who needs tv when you've got the internet!

I usually watch tv by myself just because of show preferences, but it's so much more exciting when watching it with other people - reactions, commentary, afterthoughts...
Things I'll miss about Beijing: Watching shows with other people.

June 10; tea with the godfather

Day 126
I downloaded a new app on my phone called Pudding Cam. Most of the pictures in this post are from my phone's camera. The following picture is taken from my Sunday school classroom.
The tall building is the teacher's residence.  The  short one beside it is the athletic centre.
The buildings on the right are for the middle and high school. 
The Canadian girls were treated to a wonderful afternoon courtesy of our Godfather Cam today. We start the afternoon by meeting Cam under the giant portrait of Mao.

North side of the forbidden city
We have been told that Jingshan Park is the place to go for the best view of The Forbidden City. After approximately half an hour of climbing to the peak, I can confirm it is the best view (although there hasn't been many) I have seen of the Forbidden City and its surrounding area.
let the climbing commence!
Photo Cred: Cat
We were told that an emperor hung himself on that tree.
The tea house we are taken to is hidden deep within Jingshan Park.  As we enter the store, the lady greets Cam fondly – he has been here a few times. We sit at the table and the tea ceremony teacher walks us through the proper steps for tea tasting and the traditional way to hold the tea cups. Tea tasting is kind of like wine tasting. The smell, the temperature, the process of getting it from the container to the cup… all so…precise.

the tea house.
the equipment
the teas.
Step one: prepare your tea. For jasmine tea, all you need to do is add water and the bulbs will open.
Jasmine tea
Step 2: Pour the tea into the tall cup. Place the wide cup over the tall cup. Flip the cups so the wide cup is at the bottom. Once the tea has transferred, you can now smell the fragrance of the tea left in the tall cup. 
Step 3: Drink the tea. Ladies hold the cup with their thumb and index figure. The other fingers fan out like a phoenix. Men hold their cups less elegantly and more firmly with all fingers touching the cup (I think it's supposed to symbolize a dragon?)
After drinking (Cam was right, you can get high off this stuff), the tea teacher turns into a saleswoman and tries to sell us these cool cups. The cups change designs depending on the temperature of the liquid. 
transitioning from calligraphy to panda.
We all feel fresh and energized after an afternoon of drinking tea. We see there is another park nearby and venture on in. Apparently, there is another fee for Beihai Park. Funny story, the admission fee for students are usually cut in half in most places. Cam, who has been out of school for quite a while, shows his driver's license. The ticket sales lady gives him student discount too. haha
you can rent boats that are shaped as lotus. Unfortunately, we got there too late.
the path was too flat so we looked for our own adventure

Things I will miss about Beijing: scenic parks