Sunday, July 18, 2010

5th Day in Beijing - 10 June 2008

**This is a never-before-published journal entry from June 2008.

Traveling in a big group like this (350 students) is a lot different
from traveling alone because all the logistical aspects of the trip
are taken care of & very well organized.  I've learned the symbol for
"women's bathroom" and a few phrases in Mandarin.  Yesterday we
climbed a portion of the great wall which is, in places, stairs that
are almost perfectly vertical.  I got a plaque at the top with my name
and the date I climbed.

Note the 2008 Beijing Olympics logo & motto: "One World, One Dream"

steep steps

I did it! Look at my official plaque...engraved with my name and everything!

view from the top (...of just one little section)

standing in the shadow of a 2,200 year old edifice

After a delicious traditional Peking Duck
dinner, we went on a short jaunt to the evening food street market.

get your insects fried or fresh.... a stack or on a stick

these girls seem to be enjoying their raw squid on a stick

Before we even saw anything the smell was repulsive.  One of my
Icelandic friends, Bjarni, ate a stick full of silk worms which he
said were all right at first but got grosser as he went along.  There
was whole squid, scorpions, cockroaches, lizards, along with more
domestic meats such as venison and ostrich.  There is a young
aboriginal man (native Australian) who didn't seem to have too big of
a problem w/ the stuff-- however another Indian student, who is Hindu
and vegetarian, could barely stay long enough to take a few pictures.
In fact, he was the one who pointed out that the picture of an ostrich
that one vendor was using to advertise his kiosk was actually a World
Wildlife Foundation Poster!!

We had an early wake-up call at 5:30am this morning-- it's now 7am and
we're well on our way to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  This is a
very special trip; not just anybody can get in.  But because of the
Program's great reputation and carefully tended relationships with
higher-ups in the Chinese govt., (this concept is called GUANXI in
Mandarin) we have access to many sites that are off limits to
tourists.  We will meet with Mr. Liu Jieyi this morning, Assistant to
the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Head of the North American

Mr. Liu Jeiyi

This afternoon we will have some free time, and then a Scholar-Led
Open Debate Forum on subjects which we have proposed.  A few students
will host and mediate each of four debates.  The topics range from
Health Care to Global Economy to Human Rights.  After dinner I'll be
joining an optional tour during which we'll visit a local university
to speak English with Chinese students.  Apparently such forums are
popular here, and I've heard that the students will line up just for a
chance to practice their English with us.

We're heading into the Ministry now, so I gotta run!


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