Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cuandixia, Revisited

On the Monday of May 1st holiday, i visited Cuandixia again. This time i went with Alicia, Tao, and YJ, who is new to this blog. YJ is a Singaporean, recently transplanted to Beijing, plays ultimate, and also has a car. She was thrilled to drive there, which was much nicer than our 3 hour journey last time. Everyone, this is YJ; Yj, Everyone.

Also, since Tao was on board and he's a journalist, he wrote a story about it for Beijing Today, and used my photos for the article. I love when Tao writes my posts for me.

Having already been there i was also able to steer the group to places i had not already been. It's a really tiny village, but there were still a few new things to check out. Like this here Guandi temple on the hill. Nothing remarkable, but a nice temple nonetheless.

And a playground. Look how happy Tao is! Weee!

And these here quaint sittin' chairs.

We also did a new hike this time. Instead of taking the long road up and behind the village, we hiked the mountain directly across from it. This offered panoramic views of the village itself, as well as opportunity for off-trail exploring. It was a shorter hike, but no less enjoyable than the other one.

Strolling down the main road, we just chatted and enjoyed the near perfect weather. Really, it's just nice to get out of Beijing, even just for half a day.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Chinese Wedding

On May 8th, 2011, Edward Wang and Sophia Song were wed in Chinese matrimony. More specifically, they had been wed several days earlier in a florescent lit, aging court house. But this time, it was outside and their friends were invited. I know Edward from frisbee. He is the longtime captain of Tianjin Speed, a local frisbee team we've played against (and partied with) many times.

A group of six made the pilgrimage to Tanggu, a place none of us had ever heard of, and rightfully so. An expat who had been living there for 4 years, upon being asked "What is there to do here?" replied, "Nothing. But now we have two bars and a recently got a McDonalds." That right there is the definition of western civilization in China.

Here's the story of our trip, told in several short bursts.

The Fast Train and Tao's Suit
I awoke at 5:45 am, but i suspect the others were up well before me. Groggy and unmotivated, i managed to cover my body with a suit, brush my hair, toss back a coffee and smoothie, and head out. I met the others at the Beijing south station, which is from where the high speed train departs. The trip from Beijing to Tanggu, a drive of approximately 3.5 hours by car, would take us a cool 50 minutes by train. The train arrived around 8:20, allowing plenty of time to see the Tanggu sights before the 10am wedding. Turns out there were none to see, and we visited the McDonald's twice (for coffee and a clean bathroom).

In the morning light, we could clearly differentiate the morning people. Joe and Baby Girl were dashing. Even without a suit jacket (he claims to have been misinformed by Jim), BG managed to look respectable. Barbie was a queen among princesses. Alicia turned even the grooms head. I needed a haircut badly and my suit was too big (off-the-rack at Kohl's), but i smelled nice and was chipper. And then there was Tao.

Tao wakes up no earlier than 11 am, ever, unless we're playing frisbee. He's not a morning person. On this momentous occasion, he rolled up in a suit which, from all outward appearances, appeared to have been wrestled away from his cats that very morning. Stained, wrinkled and covered with hair, it resembled what a migrant worker might wear to a wedding, if he were also sleeping in the gutter. But Tao's a writer, and writers couldn't care less about your fancy "dry cleaning", or your "ironing board", or your "habit of not letting your cats sleep and frolic within your nice clothing."

The Wedding
... was a little underwhelming. We expected a traditional Chinese wedding. What we got was a mostly a western wedding, with all the vows and speech translated into English as well. It was held outdoors, on the turf soccer field of an international school, and the minister was the principal. By the power vested in him by, let's say the janitor, he "was proud to introduce them" as husband and wife, at the end of a 15-minute long ceremony.

They did do a tea ceremony at the end, where the bride and groom present their parents with tea, and everyone is thrilled about it. Later, we took some pictures with our Tianjin friends.

The See Saw a.k.a. Teeter Totter a.k.a.
Kevin and Joe's Guide to Looking Awesome

With the short ceremony done and pictures taken, we had some time to kill. Joe and I made a bee-line for the playground and a quick photo shoot.

Lauren took a stroll while a groundskeeper leered on.

And Tao longed for someone to play with. He waited a very long time.

The Banquet and The Train Home
... were also uneventful. Lunch was served in the school cafeteria. We didn't have assigned seats for the train back, so we took control of the dining cart. We bought all the beer that had (all three cans) and relaxed. We were sleepy and restless, but we entertained ourselves through the power of friendship. Awwww.