My student Jack and I agreed that it was a touch surreal to be standing together on the opposite side of the world. He is spending a month staying with his Aunt and Uncle in a suburb of Beijing. They took a bus to come and see me. We met at my hotel and then took a taxi to an area of town that seemed more traditional and kind of reminded my of the high streets in Germany with aside plaza and then streets branching off. Along the way we met up with a couple cousins. Jack said he was related to everyone in China, so he was always running into people.
They were very nice, and as my George Mason handlers had told me, seemed to look on me as the revered teacher and in addition to a meal (8 courses and a duck) bought me a gift and had a sugar rabbit and a blown sugar horse made for me by street vendors. I was tasked with helping with the blown sugar horse and clearly was not up to standard because he had to start over.
Jack was really funny because he would give me asides in English like, “watch out, there’s more food coming,” and when I asked if they were buying me a present when there was some negotiation about my favorite color he said, “Oh yeah, just go with it.” He’s a great kid and I enjoyed hearing his perspective on China. He says Beijing is very modern, but the rural areas are more traditional. Also, you can only drive a car in Beijing if you live here, and even then, only every other day. It was a really fun night. They were very fun and clearly ready to show me a good time.
So now on to the tour. Sara, our Beijing guide, told me to be ready for a lot of walking today. My feet are delicate creatures and given my blisters and the selection of shoes I have I think I’ve decided, no matter how much a doofus I look like I am wearing socks with sandals tomorrow. I am also wearing black pants with a navy top, as I am sending a wash to the hotel laundry. Stand aside people. American tourist, coming through! I’m at breakfast and have spotted a table of older British couples that I hope very much are on the tour, since I had so much fun with a similar group last summer!