Quippymcsteez is out of the office….

Hey guys!

If you were expecting some great post by quippster, you are going to be greatly disappointed. She is currently unable to access her blog in her current location. So instead you get this sorry excuse for a post written by her helpful-but-not-quite-as-witty roomie in Germany.

Don’t worry. It has been confirmed that she is alive and well, but if our skype conversations are any indication of how her internet behaves it’s a wonder she is still able to use her compy at all.

I did manage to get a direct quote from her though!

 “…i am still living it up here, I just can’t tell people about it just yet…but December will  have crazy amounts of info! “

So be patient. The quippster will be writing once again very soon…probably.

In the mean time, greetings from Germany!

Exciting, new plans!

Happy birthday to my brother! Everyone text him or give him hugs because I can’t.

Anyway, down to business:

Instead of going to Seoul, SK for the National-holiday-one-week-break, I have been hired for my first translating job! [!!!!!!!]

My friend from this summer is taking a class called “History and culture of Beijing” and the professor is shooting a documentary over the break. Turns out he is going to some villages, and the crew of people includes us as interpreters for the trip! Not sure which villages we are going to just yet, but at least two are in the itinerary.

Leaving in approx. one week!

Also due to technological difficulties (not mine this time at least) I am not able to attach pics to posts anymore…sorry! but you will have to take this up with someone over my head… ; )

South Korea’s got Seoul…

Hey everyone! Happy Mid-Autumn festival! A day for eating mooncake, staring at the moon, and lighting paper lanterns.

I am now in my second week of the semester! I still have a ton of places to blog about from my August, so naturally I am spending my time -well, whatever time that is now studying or meeting new Chinese friends or exploring – searching for things to do on my October adventure to SEOUL!

If you have any suggestions, ideas, people I could stay with, anything, let me know!

Update: Stranded by the Sea.

Policeman looking fab on the beaches of Zhuhai

To: Anonymous. By “update” I meant “another cliffhanger” just to give you fair warning. Sincerely, Kels.

Current location: a coffee place by the ocean-or i guess it is an inlet of the South China Sea (according to Google maps). I am right outside of Macau island, in Zhuhai. Atleast for a few more days. I have been at the same coffee place for a while (despite having finished my over-priced coconut drink ages ago) since the place we are staying does not have internet.  I asked my Chinese friend to drop me off so I could check my email for the first time in days–sorry for the neglect, everyone.

I left the country yesterday for about half an hour. My purpose was to get my visa renewed; that didn’t stop people from looking at me sketchily thinking that my purpose was to buy duty-free cigarettes to take back to China and make a few kuai. So I’m giving the authorities a big “thumbs up” for wasting time questioning someone who hardly has anything more exciting than lotion with spf in her bag, conveniently looking past all of the locals carrying boxes and bags of who-knows-what through the “nothing to declare” customs area. While this was happening, I got separated from my friend, and as luck/Murphy’s law would have it: I had no cell phone. We got seperated for a few hours, during which my friend, his girlfriend, cousin, and mother worried about me, and I pictured them worrying about me. I had a plan and everything worked out fine in the end. I had a grand old time going “lone wolf” into Macau. Regrettably, I won’t get to spend more time there actually adventuring. Also regrettably, the international fireworks competition is not until September (thank you Wikipedia).

Headed back to Beijing soon-which is an odd feeling, because even my rudimentary familiarity with Beijing makes it feel like “home”.

Views are dropping violently.

Reporting from Shanghai! So I knowwww I have been amiss about posting lately…..but I have been too busy adventuring to crank out the high-quality postage you are used to, all 4 of you who actually check on me. AKA my lovely roommate, the Gyp.

I am now on summer vacation! For about a month, during which I must flee the country. But only because I have a multiple-entry visa and can only stay here for 90 days.

After chilling in Beijing for a few days (how cool is it that I can say that sort of thing [!!!!]) my friend, Booty, from Shanghai came up to visit. Two other friends from the summer program joined us on a journey to Inner Mongolia for a few days. After the worst 10-hour train ride of my life, we returned basck to Booty’s hometown” Shanghai. We have been touring and going to birthday parties here in Shanghai since we arrived. Including an overnight birthday trip to Chengzhou.

Right now it is 11pm and we are packing for Guangzhou. We are going to stay in

China or China-Germany-California?

Our program organized the last trip for everyone, a few days in the land known as Qingdao, China. We embarked on this journey…well the journey for me started even before finals. Tuesday morning bright and early I rode my bike to the station to arrive nice and sweaty at school. After my final was over (phew!) I spent the rest of the day with my classmates. First we ate at our favorite fried rice place (finally open again! after a month of randomly being closed!), then we headed to their neighborhood. I lugged my giant backpacking backpack-known as Heinz, or my boyfriend-around all day, in preparation for the trip. Not really, I just planned on staying with my friends because they are close to school.

We had a whole afternoon free, so we decided to go to a lake district in Beijing, known as Houhai. It is a very beautiful part of town-I will do a post about Beijing here soon! We got some dinner at Houhai, then hopped in a cab to Wangfujing, a shopping district to pick up a friend’s Qipao. When we headed back to our friend’s apartment, we decided to go out dancing. It was so fun! Mostly because there were 5 of us, and no one else on the dance floor. The dj did whip out the fog machine, a lot, but all of the other Chinese people sitting around watching us didn’t join in dancing.

We set out for Beida early morning, grabbing a small batch of baozi on the way. Our original plan of taking the overnight train changed and we ended up taking a train from 9:30 arriving at 2:00. When we got into the town and looked around, it seemed like there was a lot of influence that wasn’t Chinese. The train station was very German looking. There were other buildings that weren’t fancy or new but they were European looking. It was very interesting just looking around.

Outside the train station

We got on our little tour bus, like any giant group of foreigners would, and went straight to the Tsingdao Brewery, like any giant group of foreigners would.

Our tourguide was not good at English, and I didn’t understand nearly enough vocabulary about beer making to enjoy the tour. It was interesting. It was more fun hanging out with people. There was free samples of beer and some peanuts. Everyone else was very excited about the beer. I was excited about the peanuts. Hey, I was hungry!

Afterwards we went to dinner with the group. The best part? Eating some delicious sea cucumber! It was an experience, it was kind of gelatin-y and tasted oceany. Other than that, nothing super special. But worth trying! Sea cucumber is one of the three delicacies of Qingdao. The other ones were also seafood, but we didn’t have the chance to eat them. We were busy! We did get to eat some meat on a stick. It tasted like spam fried in bacon grease. It was sort of tasty. There was also the fish-sticks with some sort of gooey, tartar saucy dip. You may all feast your eyes on these pictures, I have grown fond of the macro setting on my camera.

We did explore the town a little bit- we went looking for the night market. We found lots of bread instead. I enjoy the touches of German here and there, our hotel was just down the street from a gigantic church, there were some giant German parliament-like buildings, and bakeries! The influence of the occupation was not only architectural, but also in lifestyle and food choices. I’m a fan of the influence. We found tons of little shops and stands, and very friendly people. Much friendlier than Beijinger’s.

The snacks and pastries we found were for the next day’s activities: mountain climbing and beach-going. After searching around for some breakfast that was a pastry, but not fried to no avail, we hopped in the bus and headed out about an hour to Lao Shan. Or Mount Lao, if you prefer. We scooted up this windy road, narrowly avoiding other tour buses on one side and the rocky sea side below. everyone got really excited to see the frog-shaped rock on the cliff side, tipping the bus ever-so-slightly and ominously towards a steep, rocky, dangerous position. It was fine though.

View from the bus

Lao Shan is a very famous mountain in China, and especially for Qingdao. It is very beautiful. According to Wikipedia, Taoism may or may not have partially been created there. It was fire-y hot hiking up the mountain, and we only had a few hours before we had to meet the group at the bottom, so we didn’t make it to the top. It was still beautiful from 4/5 the way up the mountain, and from what we could tell the actual top of the mountain was cloudy.

From the mountain excursion, we went back to our hotel, napped for an hour, and headed to the beach. It was my first time in the Pacific ocean! The beach part of town was close enough to walk to, so we headed down to the pier to putz around a bit. Main tourist attractions include: the pier. The dock. The pagota at the end of a dock. We quickly discovered that these were interesting for about 3 minutes. We also quickly discovered how disgusting the beach was. Tons of green slimy eutrophication floating around everywhere, and just the general slime and grunge caused by people that don’t care about protecting the environment, so littering and other gross actions are okay.

Sea cockroach!

We decided to check out the “German town” so we hopped in a taxi, and got dropped off sort of in the middle of nowhere and walked around. We discovered a nicer, cleaner beach with less people and a cool pier heading out into the ocean. By the time we found this place it was almost time to meet back up with the group for dinner, so we took a taxi back. Only this time, the taxi driver decided it would be funny to get lost- or fake getting lost, I’m not sure…- and we arrived late to dinner. No new surprise foods at dinner, but the seafood dumplings were quite tasty.

We were walking back to the hotel after dinner with a group of people and stumpled upon a little side-street crowded with people and snack places. We didn’t have time to explore, but I snapped a little picture of it.

The next day we got up pretty early and took a taxi back to the nice beach from the day before. We had a nice time just relaxing next  to the waves and walking up and down the coast. It was overcast, but still very warm and bright. It was wonderfully relaxing and fun hanging out with a few friends. We played Frisbee on the sidewalk until I threw left-handed straight off the sidewalk and onto the rocks with waves ominously approaching. We saved the friz, but that was the end of playing catch. We went exploring for some breakfast, but nothing was open that early. We decided to have some ice cream at this little stall that was open, and got into a very slow, confusing talk with this old Chinese guy about American-Chinese-Japanese relations. I didn’t walk away with much, but I was excited that some rando old guy wanted to talk to us!

We continued on our search for some food and entered the only little ritzy place that was open. All four of us ordered some french fries….and all four of us got our hopes up, and they brought four plates of chips. Lays potato chips. Ketschup flavored. Funny, but a let-down. We did inform them that their translation was indeed, gravely wrong. This was the main event concluding the trip to Qingdao, because we just returned to the hotel, and took the train back to Beijing.

The summer program had our last farewell-dinner. It was sad to see my friends leave!

Two tales of Baijiu.

China has a famous specialty alcohol called Baijiu (type it into google translate, the first characters that show up are accurate, if you wish to click on the speaker and hear how robots say it). It is their vodka, if you will, their type of grain alcohol. Of course, there are many different prices and varieties of Beijiu, depending on how much you want to spend. The funny thing about Baijiu is how people react to it. People think it is the worst thing ever, or people like it, or people don’t prefer drinking it often. But none the less, trying it is a must.

The past two days I have had two chances to try it, hence, two tales to tell about my Baijiu experience. I figured I would start out at the lowest grade…the 3.5 kuai bottle. One of my best program friends had a small bottle of it, and I had never had it before, so we decided to try it on her last night. When other people learned that I would be trying some Baijiu, some got very excited, some told me not to try it.

We found some iced tea to go along with the baijiu. It tasted a lot like cough syrup. I wasn’t too impressed nor disgusted. I was happy to have some tea afterwards. None the less, I didn’t have more than a few sips.

The next baijiu experience was with our host family. We had talked about trying baijiu before. Well, last night while eating jiaozi, our host dad busted out a bottle of it. We used the same tiny little cups as when we drink tea, which was quite funny. He poured three cups, one for my housemate, one for himself, and one for me.

There was much anticipation leading up to tasting this baijiu, as with the first. Our host mo and her friend that was over did not partake in drinking, but they were quite curious. This kind was definitely more expensive, but had the same cough drop feeling as the first. I almost prefer the first one. It left my mouth and nasal region tingling, that is for sure. Our host mom ushered us to keep eating jiaozi immediately after drinking.

After toasting the first few sips, I had had my fill of baijiu. The boys kept drinking, downing entire cups and doing that whole thing. I was also quickly informed that women aren’t supposed to drink that much baijiu anyway, women drink more for toasts. It is unlady-like to continue after that. I was perfectly fine with that idea.

Their saying is,

大口喝酒,大口吃肉。

It rhymes! Again, copy-paste that into google translate if you wish to hear a robot say it. It means, big swig of alcohol, big chunk of meat. Instructions for drinking baijiu.

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