since yesterday was Sunday and there's no church to be found here I decided to go exploring some more. I went and saw the Bird's Nest at the Olympics Center. It was amazing. They've cleaned that part of the city up way more than anywhere else.
The Bird's Nest is awesome! It is way bigger than I had imagined.
They have brought in tons of flowers and beautiful plants on the major roadways. On the right you see how they hide the ugly parts- giant Olympic banners hiding what it would normally look like.
Bird's Nest left and swimming cube right.
I have no idea what this is, but it looked cool.
It's so easy to get around by bike and subway that most people do. Crazy looking park.
More Olympic statues. A cool bridge...
After the Olympics I headed further downtown and walked my feet to blisters almost. I took mostly side roads and what not through these little alleys and courtyard neighborhoods. It was really neat. I didn't see another tourist for almost 2 hours I think.
Finally I arrived at some museum for some famous Opera person and a few tourists appeared again.
By the time I'd reached the Silver Ingot bridge it was full on tourist mania. I don't know why they call it Silver Ingot bridge, but probably because you need silver to pay for anything nearby. It's really a very ritzy nice part of town. It had chic little diners and very posh tea houses all sitting right next to a lake. I saw more Germans than I could count. They even had a Bavarian Beergarten right there!
Then I headed to BeiHai park. This is right near the Forbidden city and it has a giant white tower which overlooks a lot of the city.
Killer views of course.
And photogenic vistas.
You can see many of the towers from the palace of the Forbidden City on the right.
Finally I headed downtown and just saw the fancy shopping areas. 20 gazillion people.
Check out this HUGE spider I found! Bigger than a half dollar, easily, and yellow as could be! And this old man was writing fancy characters with glorified mop brushes. I accidentally walked on a few when I wasn't looking down.
A great day- I headed home so tired I was barely walking. I ate some dinner and was just settling in to go to bed early when my dorm phone rang. Chunlei had forgotten to tell me that since it was the Mid-Autumn Festival for the Moon Dr. Pan was taking the whole research group out to dinner, and I had just eaten! I went anyway, surviving a second dinner is a little trick I learned on the mission- eating way gross food with a huge smile and perhaps somewhat false eagerness. The restaurant was very fancy. Dr. Pan had reserved a big private room for us. Ther was only one table and it was gigantic and round with a big revolving glass circle centered on it with all of the food placed there in dishes. You just rotated the table til a plate came by that you liked. Problem was it was all sea food which in America I'm OK with... but here it was really weird sea food! For example there were the top halves of squids in one bowl... and the bottom half (the tentacles) in another. There were octopus all over. There were these weird sea creatures that I can't put a name to that were 3/4 inch in diameter and rubbery as bike tubes. They were like giant veins. There was fried fish (with a million little bones) and sea weed, lots of sea weed. There was all sorts of things I didn't recognize at all. Dr. Pan was so excited to have me try it all. You all would be so proud of me! I just smiled a big smile and chomped right through squid, sea weed, octopus, fish, weird vein thingys... It was something else. I won't lie, it wasn't my favorite, but it wasn't that gross either. There were 16 of us sitting around the big table though and it seemed like everybody was watching me to see if I'd eat everything. they kept spinning the glass around and say "oh hey, try this!"
I also found when I got there they had 3 cups by my plate. 1 was a tea cup filled with totally awesoem chrysanthemum tea (of which I must have drank like 20 little cups full by the nights end) another was a water glass, and then a third small clear shot glass filled with some mysterious liquid. Dr. Pan insisted I try the small cup. When I asked what it was he said "Special Chinese Liquor" to which I responded in my best chinese "Wo bu he jiu" (I don't drink alcohol) Everybody was shocked! Both that I could speak some chinese (with the correct tones) and moreso that I didn't drink alcohol. Dr. Pan insisted I try it and I ended up explaining to most of the 16 there about why I don't drink alcohol, coffee or non-herbal tea. He was amazed, he was pretty friendly though. He kept asking questions about being LDS. It was great. Since I was right next to him we talked about it all night. It was funny, starting with the guy next to me he would fill his shot glass with the liquor and fill the students and those two would toast. Then he'd do the same with the next student and the next. There were 14 other drinking people at the table to toast to- and then when he reached the end he started over again! I don't know what they were drinking but it had to be stronger than beer and even that much beer would have a person totally drunk. I don't know how he was standing at the end of the night. He did get friendlier as the night wore on though! It was rad. He knew of Ceramatec and seemed impressed that I had worked there. The students told me he goes and sings karaoke with his students occasionally. Wow- I can't for the life of me imagine Dr. Clarke going and singing karoake with us. what a different culture in china! I wish I could have taken some pictures of it all but it was too fancy a restaurant.