Beijing Beijing

Finally I’m home.  Hello from Ohio!

I love my home, sweet home.  It’s so nice to have the running water 24 x 7, and I can take a shower whenever I like to.  How cool it is to have the room temperature stable all the hours.

The lovely snow was still on the ground when I returned.  It rained the last couple of days.  At my mom’s place for over 100 days, it never rained or snowed.  The air over there was very dry daily, and unclean sometimes.

The biggest thing is that, I got my freedom and privacy back.  I didn’t realize its preciousness until I lost it.  No more nagging, no more uninvited visitor-drop-in, and no more those nonsense.

When the airplane took me into the blue sky in Beijing, I felt a huge relief, if you know what I mean …

It is simply a joy to be at home, again, safe and sound.  Thank God.

After leaving my mom’s place, I stayed in Beijing for 4 days.  It was a wonderful time.  Today I’d like to talk about my experience in Beijing.

Having fun with my college buddies:

It was great to hang out with my friend.  She and I visited the Olympic Forest Park, and drove by the signature stadiums used for the 2008 Olympic Games.

One day, we went back to our alma mater.  Walking on the familiar campus, we were trying to trace back the 4-year college life, with a lot of laughter, and some sadness.  Who doesn’t miss the time of being young?

On the west side of the campus, there was a mail drop box.  It looked like a regular one, but the stories behind were magnificent.  In the early 1980s, all our outgoing mails (hand-written letters) went through that box.  Whom did we write to?  Parents, friends, relatives, and the boyfriends/girlfriends.  The box was a messenger of love.

There was a story.  One day, a boy in my class wrote a super-thick love letter to a girl.  He tried to squeeze it through that tiny hole into that drop box, but failed.  Why?  The letter was too thick.  Disappointing, huh?

It was very exciting to see some of my college buddies.  We had delicious lunch together, and did a lot of catch up.  Thank you very much, my friends.  It was a great joy being with you, hearing your lovely voice, and seeing your big smiles.

Chatting online is nice.  But to a dinosaur like me, nothing could replace the real gathering.  Sitting together on one table like a family is priceless.  You all take care, and I’ll see you next time.

Visiting my high school physics teacher:

My high school physics teacher (abbreviated as Teacher Q) is living in Beijing now.  He also taught physics to my brother’s class.  The last time I saw him was the year 2002.  Luckily I was able to see him this time.

Embarrassingly I was 35 minutes late for the appointment.  It took a long time to find that place.  From the map it looks his place is not that far from the metro station.  I was wrong.  It was at least 40-minute walk.

I was also looking for a flower shop on the way, in order to bring some fresh flowers as a gift.  It was much harder to find one for an outsider like me.  At the end, I had to give up the flower idea:  rushed to a grocery store, and grabbed some fruits instead.

At the checkout, the cashier told me that, I had to go back to the shelves to get those weighted.  No scale at the checkout.

After checkout, I asked the cashier if I could get another big plastic bag, as it’s too much and too heavy to fit into one.  The cashier started helping the next customer, and just ignored me.

After waiting for a minute or two, another cashier came over, handed me a smaller bag, and said to me: “30 cents”.  I have to pay for a bag?  Why don’t you include the bag into the grocery price?  Ha ha, I had left Beijing for too long.

With the heavy fruits at hand, I had a tough time finding that apartment.  Different people pointed me to totally different directions, as there are two entrances for that super long apartment complex.  I went to the wrong one.  Okay, back to where I came from.  I had to call Teacher Q’s son for directions.  Thankfully his son came out, and met me on the street.

I was sweating a lot.  I was also concerned my teacher would give me a Fail on my punctuality.

Finally I saw my teacher.  We were so happy to see each other.

At first I was wondering if my teacher remembered much about me, as he got so many students over the years.

The moment I met Teacher Q, all my doubts were gone.  His memories are stunning.  He remembers tons of people like me, my classmates, my brother, people and things that are related to our high school.  For many of the details, I even don’t have any clue.  I’m very impressed.

During the 2-year high school, Teacher Q gave me tremendous help academically.  He was such an excellent teacher.  I told him this time that, without his help, I would be still living in that remote village in China, and farming the land.  No dreams, no life in Beijing, and of course, no life in US.  He is one of those beloved teachers who changed my life forever.

My teacher is full of curiosities.  He asked about my life in US, my dad and mom (he knows my parents), the school in my mom’s village with 6 teachers and 4 students, the impacts of US government shutdown, how the US citizens are involved in voting for/against the government officials and policies, etc.  The conversations were very pleasant, and thoughtful.

Originally I thought the visit would last 30 minutes, maximum one hour.  It turned out, before we both noticed it, four and half hours passed away.  Thank you, my teacher, for everything you did for me.  I wish you the best.

The food in Beijing:

I love the food in Beijing.  I can never have enough dim sums, noodles, hot pots, roast ducks, pancakes, vegetables, on and on.  Losing weight while living in Beijing would be more challenging to me.

One day I was walking on the familiar streets in Xin Jie Kou and Xi Si.  The food displayed was looking so good: pot stickers, stuffed buns, etc.

Then I stopped at my favorite place, the Big Food Court at Wang Fu Jing.  There is a Dairy Queen close by.  Both are located at the basement of the Oriental New World.

I had a big bowl of knife-chopped hand-made noodles with vegetables, pie with pork and cabbage, and a big bowl of eight-treasure rice soup.  I couldn’t finish the soup, and felt guilty for wasting the great food.  The whole meal cost less than $5.

Summary:

I love Beijing.  The metro covers the whole city very well, and is very convenient using the all-in-one card.  The road traffic is very crowded, and I tried to avoid it.  The drawback of metro is that, many stations are not accessible for the handicapped.  Dealing with stairs is hard when I traveled with one huge suitcase, and two carry-on bags.  Hey, good exercise to me.

Dear readers, have you ever been to Beijing?  What do you like or dislike it?

Are you still connecting with your teachers or students?  If yes, how do you feel when you see them?  Please share your thoughts with us.

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8 Responses

  1. The Beijing food sounds very good to me too. I love noodles and dumplings, but I’ve only had the Americanized versions I suppose. Would I be surprised at the difference? Except maybe when I have visited big North American cities China towns like Chicago and Toronto. Tom

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi Tom, for the noodles and dumplings, they are very similar to the ones we eat here. In China, there are more varieties available. You can have the noodle soup, chow mein, or pan-fried Cantonese style, with different vegetables or meat. I prefer the hand-made noodles, as they taste better.

  2. Joe says:

    Your teacher sounds like a great educator and role model. You’re lucky to have one.
    We visited Beijing about 15 years ago. It was a great trip. We had Beijing duck, dumplings, and all sort of good food.
    I imagine it’s a lot more modern now. I’d love to visit China again. Next time we’ll take a more extensive trip.

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Yeah, my teacher is great. I’m very happy to be able to see him this time.

      The food in Beijing is very good. During the last 10 years, the prices for food and hotels went up quite a lot. And the road traffic is getting more crowded, and I’m always worried about being late. The metro is convenient, and time is more guaranteed.

  3. GYM says:

    I went to Beijing before the 2008 Olympics and I hear it is completely different now. There weren’t very many cars and I don’t think there was a metro.

    That’s nice that you connected with your teacher- he sounds like a nice individual.

    The big question is, Helen, did you have Beijing Kao Ya when you were there??? That’s my favourite dish I love it and I would want it as my last meal, lol!

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi GYM, definitely there are much more cars on the road right now. It needs a lot of patience on the road.

      Yeah, I’m so lucky to have such a great teacher. So glad I visited him this time.

      The Beijing Kao Ya, roast duck, is very delicious. No, I didn’t have it this time. We have the mutton hot pot. I love the roast duck, too. The duck skins are very tasty. Wow, you really plan ahead, ha ha.

  4. Caroline says:

    Hi Helen, it must be so nice to be home;)

    I have never been to Beijing but would love to visit one day.

    As far as keeping in touch with teachers or students, I have never been good at it. I envy people who do keep in touch, even with old co-workers. I guess I just don’t have it in me.

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi Caroline, welcome back. Yeah, it’s great to be home.

      I don’t keep in touch with my teachers much either. The last time I saw my high school physics teacher was 17 years ago. This time while in Beijing, I gave it a try to see if my teacher was available, and he was. It was a wonderful time.

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