I went for a run with Veronica in the morning and told her about Chanan’s plan to go to Long Qing Xia I heard about last night. We tried recruiting more people but for assorted reasons they weren’t really up for it. It got down to Chanan, veronica, me, Taylor, sarah, and Anya would go. Sarah and Anya had tickets for a ballet at 7, though, so they were going to leave earlier or we were all going to go back earlier. I got down to the lobby ahead of them and began asking the front desk about logistics to make sure our plans were good. The lady at the front desk was incredibly helpful and said that it would take 2.5 hours by car, and longer by bus. It eventually emerged that we could hire a car/driver to take us for 500 RMB round trip per car, which is fairly reasonable considering that allows us to spend the whole day there. We might look into getting a van to take a gaggle of us at once instead of 2 sedans. Maybe it would be more economical… In any case there are plans in the works to do that next weekend, possibly. It sounds like a really interesting location with good scenery and good activities.
After that fell through we retreated to my room for a while to plot our next move. We decided to go to Beihai park, then to a tea house, then back to the hotel for possible swimming. We took the subway there and realized we were hungry so we wandered down a side street and found a really good restaurant. It was a small place that wasn’t too expensive, the food was amazing, and the staff was really nice. We struggled happily through the ordering process, notebooks full of useful characters spread across the table, wild gestures and slaughtered pronunciations blazing. We had some delicious eggplant and fish and some less delicious tofu. Chanan’s friend Chanan (seriously, they were both named Chanan) who he met at temple this weekend met us there and spent the afternoon with us.
From the restaurant we went to Beihai park which, surprise surprise, was essentially another place the emperor built to party at. It has a complex of buildings at the north side and a large lake with a central island and temple in the center. The whole place is attractively landscaped with willow trees and grass and rocks. We rented 2 paddle boats and puttered around on the lake for an hour. The girls’ boat was apparently a dream to paddle while ours make grinding and clumping noises and really didn’t do a great job of moving us so we had a bit of a struggle.
The park was nice and afterward we moved on to the Tea house phase of our plan. We’d heard good things about the Laoshe tea house, so we took a cab from Beihai to there (only 10 RMB! Taxis in China are inexpensive). We got there and it was, indeed, very nice with a relaxed room where you could drink tea and be serenaded by Chinese musicians. Unfortunately a single cup of tea (unless the menu was translated poorly) was 5-11 dollars, which we felt to be a bit absurd. As such we left for the hotel.
Sarah and Anya went to prepare for their ballet show, Chanan’s friend went home, and Veronica, Chanan, and I went and got dinner at “the dumpling place” as it has come to be known. We can’t read anything so we just make up names for places. It usually has to do with the location, type of food, and color/style of decoration of the restaurant. This is a bit of a misnomer though as they do not, as far as I could tell, actually have dumplings. They have steamed buns (Bao1zi包子) which are delicious. It was very inexpensive. 22 kuai for 18 包子 which filled the three of us up nicely. On my way home from dinner I decided to stop by the lab to make sure my worms which I started growing the day before were doing well and just generally make sure my stuff was doing ok. Everything looked great and I got to talk with some of the people in my lab. I tried asking for something in Chinese which set off a whole conversation trying to explain some stuff to me. It seems like the lab is a fun place but they get their work done and save socializing for down time, which is probably for the best.