Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Perfect Weekend in Beijing

Well everyone, I went to Beijing and now you get to look at a whole lot of photos.  Let's get started!

It began and ended here, as most of my trips to Beijing do.

Day One:  Chilling with Sara and Abigail in Westerner paradise

Beijing has an area called SanLiTun ("The Village") which is near the embassies and a lot of other foreign-folk housing.  This is the place to go if you want Western shopping or food.  In our case, Sara wanted Starbucks and I wanted to go to the Bookworm Bookstore and the Apple store.

We met up with one of Sara's old students, who was the leader of one of our campus fellowships last year.  It was encouraging to hear how faithfully she has been following the Father in her new work and study this year.

Sunny at Sanlitun

Soup dumplings for lunch

Western food, English books, and great conversation at the Bookworm

Our neighborhood:  We stayed at a little hostel in an average Chinese neighborhood.  The hostel was in a hutong, a small alley lined with traditional Beijing style homes.  We enjoyed our fifteen minute walk through real Chinese life every time we went to the subway.

Hutong by our hostel

Looking into a courtyard home

Our hostel

Snack street in the our neighborhood

Our reward for making it to the subway station:  Awesome Chinglish.

Day Two:  Reunited and it feels so good

I have about twenty students from my first year of teaching who are now studying for their masters' degree in Beijing universities.  When I texted Pauline to let her know I'd be in town, she suggested we try to get a group together for a meal.

Then another student texted to invite me to go to an international fair at another campus.  Between the fair and the dinner, I ended up spending all day with these guys -- a real treat.

We saw a Confucius statue on campus and had to take a picture, since we met in the hometown of Confucius

Laughing and eating cherries...

...that Kevin picked from this tree

My girls went back to the Germany booth three times to get a look at this guy, who is apparently hen shuai (very handsome and cool).

The Belgian booth served up waffles and chocolate.  Nice.

The booths with the best food were mobbed, but these three prevailed and got some rice.

Catching up with Wendy and Daisy

We wanted a place to hang out, so we found an empty classroom.  I immediately felt like I was teaching them all over again.

Misbehaving for the camera

It was so fun to catch up with them.  Four of these students are from my first class ever.  They are all from my favorite grade of students, the juniors I taught when I first moved to Qufu.

Dorm visit

A dozen students came for the meal, from universities all around Beijing.  It was a reunion for them as well as for me.  I love this shot of Pauline with her giant menu.

Pretty excited about the fish

The whole group.  Most of them I hadn't seen in a year; some of them I probably won't see again.  It was a really great night.

Amanda bought a book for the students to write memories in.  When I thanked her for it, she wrote me, "When you miss us in America, you can look at the book from your dear students in China.  How sweet we are.  Haha. :)  Loving you, Amanda."

Pauline, my good friend who helped organize our get-together.

Ah, it was such a fun day, and the students I hung out with are all so sweet and easy-going that it didn't feel long at all.  I think there must just be something special about one's first students.  *Happy sigh.*

OK, let's hit Day Three:  Exploring Beijing with Luke

Sara's brother Luke flew into Beijing for his first visit to China, which was the main reason we went.  Most of these photos are from the Temple of Heaven, a place I'd always wanted to visit in Beijing but hadn't yet.

Me, Sara, and Luke at our hostel, ready to head out

Middle-aged dancing in the Temple of Heaven park

Sara and I soaking up the gorgeous greens

Tai Chi in the forest

Middle-aged feather hackey sack

The Temple of Heaven park has a huge exercise area

Middle-aged ball-and-paddle game

Trying to fit in

The Temple of Heaven, where emperors sacrificed animals to pray for a good harvest

Inside the temple

A Chinese park is never complete without an old man on a traditional instrument.  Imagine him in something other than a track suit and you can transport yourself back hundreds of years.

Middle aged ribbon lady and a tour group

Day Four:  A tour to the Ming Tombs and the Great Wall

We closed out our Beijing adventures in the only proper way -- with a visit to the Great Wall of China.  Our tour was long and annoying (kept stopping for mandatory overpriced shopping trips, which cut our time at the Great Wall), but the wall itself never fails to disappoint.

First, a reminder:  Please don't trample this luxurious grassland

At the Ming Tombs:  Tourists threw money where the emperor's coffin once sat

In the Ming Tombs

The Great Wall of China!  It was a foggy day at Mutianyu.

Do we look like invading Mongolians leaping over the wall?  (The correct answer here is yes.)

We stopped at Beijing's Wangfujing snack street after the tour

Luke did not love the crowds.

Wangfujing is a good place for eating crunchy creepers on sticks.

Last meal in Beijing:  Peking roast duck

Roll this baby up for a delightful culinary experience

After four days of fun, we took the night train back to Rizhao.  A few hours later I was back in the classroom.

Between the reunions, the new experiences, the old experiences, and the chance to get away to a city I love,  I'm going to call this trip what it was:  A Perfect Weekend in Beijing.


  1. I love that you got to see Qufu graduates in Beijing! How awesome. I bet that meant a lot to them, and obviously to you!

  2. If "oldster" isn't a word, it should be.

  3. I loved looking at your Beijing pics! Such a great place (and how great that you got to spend it with sweet people).