Tuesday, November 21, 2006


These are some pictures from my bike-ride this Sunday. Some Chinese may have been a bit perturbed by my drive-by photography, but I got some good pictures. Here's a look at some of the everyday things which are very common, but you won't see in the US of A.


Migrant Workers

Young communists

Chinese Pickup Truck

Cotton Market:

Cotton Market:

Feels (and Tastes) Like Home

This week, work has been very, very busy (tai mang.) Our supervisors have been really pushing for this section of the project to be finished so that a sub-contractor can come in and start doing their thing. Three work days out of five have been fourteen hours, I don't want to, and I don't think that there will be a justifiable reason to work over that late again for the remainder of my seven months here.

My fifth month in Beijing started on Friday; it feels like a long time, but at the same time not so long. I have almost spent a half year here, but that seems hard to believe – feels more like I just arrived here a month ago.

Just so you know, Tim Hilbert is God's culinary gift to Beijing and all of the Texans living here. He has brought the finest of fine Texas cuisine to the Far East. One of my friends who has been here for 324 days put it best when he said, "This' the first place tha's made me feels' if I's at home." Tim's Bar-B-Q is as authentic as it gets, with wood floors and paneling, a stuffed armadillo, Budweiser beer, good BBQ sauce, and even the plastic red-checkered table spreads. This place's atmosphere and its food would rank it among the great BBQ restaurants back home in College Station. I have been twice now, yesterday evening and Friday. On a side note, Tim said that if his restaurant is successful, the next step is to open up a Texas bar and dance establishment. It won't be a reality by the end of my contract, but maybe by the time I come back to Beijing... Whoop!

Yesterday was Tim's "Grand Opening" even though he has been serving food for two weeks and some of our guys have eaten there six times already. The place was packed with westerners because all of the food and beer was free. We left very full and happy, and some of us had more trouble with the stairs than others.

Change of gears now: An Aggie who graduated last Spring, stumbled upon a girlfriend here. Now lots of guys pick up girlfriends here, but this one is different. Sara is American, not of the Mongolian hooker variety, who has lived in China for a very long time. She has a very different, but good perspective on life – and I think he is head over heels crazy about her. They have been hanging out a lot for the past month, but only "officially" started dating yesterday, her birthday. Being a witness to this one "good" dating relationship is a refreshing contrast with the scores of one-night-stands that I see and hear of every week. Anything is possible with God, even in Beijing. : )

That intro segways into my last story about last night. After Tim's, I went back to the hotel and walked to "Club Nu" which I have never been to but is right around the corner from our hotel. Sara's dad organized a charity benefit for his orphanage there and invited two local artists to perform: Beijing's most renowned mandarin hip-hop artist and DJ. It was quite a party, the pictures will speak for themselves, but you can take whatever preconceptions you may have about charity events back home, and toss those out the window. This was quite a party.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Cold for a Texan

Beijing is going to get very cold this winter. There have already been several days which the temperature has fallen below freezing. The wind is what can really make outside work miserable, though. When the wind here picks up, it tears right through the layers of clothing I have on and makes me feel like I am in shorts and a t-shirt. Fortunately, there have not been many days like this yet, but it is only November.

On to better news: I will be vacationing outside of China from December 26th to January 13th. I will be spending the harshest part of the winter in Israel and in Greece with my family! Only 44 more days, but who's counting? I can't wait!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Don't Eat the Fish!

After Monday, I swore never again to eat seafood in this country. To make a long and painful story short, I ate some bad fish when I was in Tongzhuo and paid dearly for it. From about 10:00 PM Sunday evening until 4:00 AM Monday morning, I experienced the worse vomiting and diarrhea than I knew was possible. I checked myself into the Beijing United International Hospital at 5:00 AM where I rehydrated, recuperated, and rested for almost 12 hours. It was a humbling experience; I have never felt so physically weak and spent, and now I feel more grateful for life and good health than I have in quite a while. Don't worry Mom, I'm better now!

Tongzhou & The Lama Temple

I have not posted in a while because I am having trouble logging on to blogger.com again. China may be blocking me again, or maybe my internet is just acting finicky again - a lot has happened since my last blog posting...

Took another marathon bike ride to Tongzhuo last Sunday, October 29th, to go touring with Cici, a random friend I made while getting lost last time I headed out that way. She's a lot of fun to hang out with. Like most Chinese students, she has learned a lot of English, but has little casual conversational practice with "native" English speakers. I think my Texan accent throws her off also. Some things are lost in translation, but we talked about a wide range of subjects: family, work, history, and politics, etc.
Last Sunday we spent the afternoon seeing the sights around the town, the coolest of which was the Lama temple. Some of Cici's explanation was lost in translation, but I gathered that a Dali-Lama died there and they built a large tower in his honor with a big stone statue inside and hundreds of thousands of bells under the eaves of the roof. The structure was interesting, and observing the superstitious rituals associated with it was even more fascinating.

Most Chinese I have run across profess to be atheist, but they are still very, very superstitious. There are lucky days, lucky names, lucky foods, lucky numbers, lucky stars (though probably fewer in smoggy Beijing than in other parts of China) and lucky rituals. One of these rituals revolves around the Lama tower. A pious pilgrim may have all of his (or her) wishes granted if they circle the tower and bow eight times (kinda wish getting that new Beemer was really that easy.) It seems strange to me that everyone does it, but so few claim to believe in a God.

Religion was one subject which Cici did not have an ounce of vocabulary for. She did not even understand the English words "religion," "Christian," "Bible," or "Jesus."

On the whole, we had a fabulous time! Cici treated me to dinner at a we went to dinner at a Chinese restaurant. The food was good, but this 20 Quai all-you-can-eat seafood meal turned into a 120 US$ nightmare the following morning...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Spooky Americans

Yes, the Chinese do celebrate Halloween - I saw Chinese children running around with little paper bags all night, but no one does costumes like Americans. These are a few photos of the best costumes at the Zachry party – mammogram man was my favorite! I'll let the rest speak for themselves.