Beijing Olympics Stadium

One of the most amazing things I’ve seen from China, was sadly not through experience but through the 22 inch TV in my living room. I remember being at such awe watching the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony. Everything was extremely beautiful, and everyone in my course was rushing to fly over to Beijing from Seoul back in 2008. What I initially thought was a crazy idea, turned out to be one that I have unfortunately missed and hoped I went for. Actually, even if I could turn back time I know I wouldn’t be able to afford to go because prices to fly over and admission tickets were so hiked up, I could afford a whole other semester in Yonsei.

Coming to Beijing this year in 2013, I decided that even if I missed the ceremony – I still had to see the place for myself. That amazing structure that glowed in the dark from that tv screen, figurines hanging on strings, fireworks all around. The Bird’s Nest was the first place that I looked out for upon the first hour I arrived in Beijing, heading towards the university. I remember asking the cabbie if we would pass by the Olympics Stadium, or if we could. He told me we would, but he wasn’t sure if I’d be able to see it because pollution was extremely bad and we might take another way if there was traffic ahead.

As a travelling paranoid, especially when I am alone, I always make sure to have all my valuables kept tight infront of me in a bag. But I was too excited. Too excited for the fact that I would be able to look at the Bird’s Nest with my own eyes. I whipped out my phone and just waited and waited for the stadium to appear.

It took about 45 minutes.

I didn’t get to see it.

For the past months while I have been in Beijing, I think I passed by the Bird’s Nest a total of 5 times in a cab. Probably two in the day, and 3 at night. Everytime we pass by, I get a similiar feeling to what I always feel when I stare at the Petronas Twin Towers right beneath it. Spectacular, spectacular, spectacular.

However, I never got to go to the Bird’s Nest along my whole semester. I couldn’t find anybody to do it with me, and weather was always so bad I knew I wouldn’t be able to take beautiful photos to do the architecture justice. Soon enough the semester came to an end, and I had to leave in two weeks. There were a list of places that we had to go to, but I secretly really looked forward to the Olympic Stadium the most. Fenny and Cris decided that we could all go together, and so we did.

It was a really bad day, weather was smoggy and grey. Clouds were nowhere to be found, not even the slightest shade of blue peeked out from the skies. I was not too impressed, but I knew I had to do it. Living in Beijing, getting great weather is almost like getting free Dominoes pizza vouchers for being delivered late. It happens, but not too often. couldn’t wait all week and risk not going at all.


Thanks to the local Chinese and their amazing photgraphy skills, we have a perfect photo of our proofshot.


The Bird’s Nest from near.


There were at least 50 people selling these kites all over the Beijing Olympic Park. We were just discussing how people would actually walk pass and go “Hey, I want to get one of those kites”. The we walked a little further and realised, almost every family had it.

Okay, the Chinese maybe.


Some Olympic torch statue that caught my eye. The park was huge, and we were heading towards a Salad Bar at a nearby mall for dinner. We were tired from the walking but I had to walk over to take a photo of it. Also remember inspecting it for a good 5 minutes with Cris, wondering it lights came on at night. At the end of our brilliant inspection, we realised there was no wire attached to it or anything for it to light up.

Smart.


Thanks for coming with us Fenny although you’ve already been here.

We stayed at the underground mall for a couple of hours just enjoying the New York Salad restaurant where the salad bar was only for 48 kuai (if I remember correctly). We were waiting for the lights at the park to come on. Had really long conversations with the girls playing “Kill, Date and Marry”. That took 500 hours and when we headed out, it was already dark.

Man, local Chinese really knows how to do their recreational stuff. We came back up to a whole different environment. There were tons of recreational activities going on in the same park that we walked at. Old people were singing from karaoke boxes, middle aged men were twirling tops, women would be doing rhythmic aerobics and kids would be rollerblading and skateboarding. Music from the old and new was coming from all sorts of directions, and now there were even more kites.

Most importantly, the lights were all lit up by then as it was already 8.00PM. We heard lights go off at 9.30PM so we made sure not to get pass that. It was a really beautiful sight to see, not even bad weather ruined the night. The bright lights pierced through the fog and pollution, and we were just in whoo’s and whoa’s.


All our bags had to be screened before entry. No charges for entrance to the park, but you’d have to pay to get in the stadium. I wanted to check out how much it’d be but we couldn’t find the entrance.


This was the Aquaria


And I like when it changes into blue.


If I could have an idol in the form of a building, this may just be it.


In the midst of taking 600 photos, this man literally jumps in after observing us and asks if we wanted him to take our photo. Man, we’re taking our own photo here mister.

Seriously China, you can try – but you can never take them too seriously. After a few months there, you just have to learn to laugh it off  and look at it positively.  And that marks the end of our my dream destination of Beijing.

Old Summer Palace (圆明园)

Hello!

I now have faster internet, and will be alternating in between different image host sites. I still have to show you the (predictable) beauty of China, because there’s just so much more that I have yet to share! Today’s post will be on the Old Summer Palace, also known as Yuan Ming Yuan. The palace is just a street away from Tsinghua, where I studied, so my friends and I just cycled there. It was just a 15 minute ride from the dorm, pretty relaxing – except for the moments when we had to cross a huge intersection. I almost never bike outside campus because I can’t predict the Chinese traffic even after living there for nearly half a year.

I wanted to go to all the tourist landmarks before I left Beijing and this was definitely one of it. However, just to make the trip a little more interesting – the girls and I decided to make it a picnic trip instead of a tourist visit. We brought lots of food, we expected some of the boys to come as well but they almost never make planned activities. Too bad for them, but good for us because we got more food! SPARTAA!!


Had to park our bikes.

Saw a sign saying we had to pay just a couple of mao‘s, but was just thrilled out bikes had a private parking space. Bikes get too easily stolen here.

 

It was only 5 yuan for us with Student Cards to enter, normal tourist price was 10 yuan or 15 yuan I think.

 

Slowly unpacking.

Look at all the yummies for us! Super famous warm Chinese date cakes, Kimbabs, egg rolls, Japanese triangular rice thingies, salad, fruits, and we even had snacks that we were too full to even touch.

Trendiest Fashion in Summer : Exposed belly.

It was really nice to have a picnic here. The rest liked the Old Palace better than the New Summer Palace, simply because this was more of a chilld area – perfect for our picnic. I went to the New Summer Palace just a little before I left Beijing, so that one will be up – sometime soon. I think that place is also good for family outings, but there aren’t alot of shaded area for you to much your snacks on without sweating buckets.

The thing about China is that you are constantly gambling with luck when asking some other passerby to help you take photos of you and your friends. They almost never know how to take photos 🙁 I would be at the Great Wall, asking for a photo of myself. And when they finish taking it, I check and its a full shot of my face ONLY. No background to prove that I was at the Great Wall at all. I just don’t understand!

So we already knew that it would be a bet, but we thought we’d just never let the person go before we review the photo. We picked the youngest person possible, who seemed like he knew a thing or two about photography. Just basic photography. And he took one.

It came out like this.

Sometimes it not about the photography, it’s also about the sensitivity of the other people. They just don’t….get it.

So we got abit tensed and said ” Okay let’s just keep smiling so whenever he clicks it will look like its posed for”.

We just didnt know what to expect from the Chinese

(I’m Chinese, but as foreigners in China we always call the Chinese, Chinese)

Finally a perfect shot. This was one of the better passerby’s I’ve come across.

I just reformat my computer, so I don’t have any photo enhancing applications to beautify my photos. So this photo is extremely raw.

Still beautiful, isn’t it?

Every time I come to such spots (which is extremely common in China), I always imagine string instruments playing in the background. Very calming, albeit a little boring.

So we decided to take paths untaken, and went behind some bushes to find some secret trail. Obviously it is meant for tourists, but it was so hidden under the unmaintained bushes that nobody unadventurous or below 4o would bother finding it.

This man, owned it all.

He was just chilling on the boat, for a really long time, browsing on his phone. True fusion of new age and old age.

Foreigners a little OCD about dirty everythings, getting our hands washed in a random fast food store.

Also wanted to get some ice cream, but it was 15 kuai each – to which we all whailed in misery. We needed something cold to eat because it was scorching hot!! So I  got this instead.

Found some Koreans walking pass so I quickl harrassed them to take a photo for us. Count on the Koreans to take good photos.

WITH sceneries, or without.

I also had a performance there that day, and my fans were going crazy.

Calm down girls, you’ll have a piece of me. Later, later.

Sold out, in within 5 minutes of ticket release. Look at their happy faces.

Don’t you just love how the Chinese gu niang blends in with the flowers?

Was also excited because I thought we would actually be able to see the 12 Zodiac Animal Heads that the Europeans took from China. They are slowly being returned after being taken away during their colonial days, but I never got to see them. I think we got to see the one that were used in the Jackie Chan Film (Chinese Zodiac). Not enough to fullfill my excitement!

Everytime I walk pass these wind chimes I always wanna get them. But I won’t use them, and I hate that.

That is all about Summer Palace, short but took me more than an hour to write because I’m not used to using ImageShack. Photobucket is alot more convenient to take links from. Will be heading to Indonesia in a few hours, after a 5 hour sleep, for my cousin’s engagement ceremony. Borobudur, here I come!

Also very happy because I found a job, almost exactly a week after a touchdown. I just feel extremely blessed with the arrangements that has been laid down for me. I don’t know whats going to come up, but this may possibly my dream job – although nothing extravaganza. Hoping I can contribute to many in the future!

See you!

White Spring in Beijing

Hello!

So here are some photos from the snow, somewhere two to three weeks ago. I already told me Snow Shock tale in the previous post so I’ll not repeat again. It was really nice to experience a full day of snow, but once or twice is enough. Floors get too slippery to cycle on and I don’t fancy walking in the cold. Quite a few must be late to class because their rides were all covered in snow – dirty snow. A friend had to shove all the ice from the bikes one by one (and trust me, there are ALOT of bikes) to locate her bike. You will see! Hope you like them photos!

Bald trees not so bald anymore.

This is the road right opposite my apartment’s exit, just go straight ahead at the end of the road is where my classes are.

Everyone was just taking photos and not heading to class! This was about 5 minutes till class in the morning. It only takes me 2-3 minute to bike there so I don’t usually get too late. But I like to be there early, though its getting harder and harder now that temperature’s colder and colder.

All the way down!

I took my bike out and halfway down the slope towards the intersection, I had a great feeling I was going to slip riding on ice. Took a U-turn and put it back in the parking lot. After the long way down the road, we have to cross a huge football field before we arrive at my school. This is the football field.

Fresh blanket of ice on the football field!

Poor bike, poor owner.

It was also Andee’s birthday, such coincidence – snow was definitely there for her.

Both my deskmates Danny and Ji Yea. We sometimes wear the same colour to class so I always like to take photos. It doesn’t look like it in this photo but we were wearing shades of grey.

Orange cake from the supermarket beneath our classes. The lady got the name wrong and wrote Happy Birthday Shella, instead of Andee because Shella was the one who got the cake. Big mistake!

Last but not least, a better view of the bicycles. It’s not so congested at this side of the campus, some area’s so packed the snow just falls flat as one single blanket above the rides.

So that was my one day snowy journey in Beijing! Not bad, I got to ride in falling snow and woke up to a white campus. The next day I everything melted and the football field was as green as ever. It’s like it never happened. Till then! 

Cold Crazy Chinese, Beijing.

Hello!

So I am feeling really motivated and productive today, going to make use of this to finish everything that I have put back. I usually get like this when I’m nervous or excited about something. It helps clean up my mind or makes me feel great to start fresh. So here’s going to be a post of my Beijing life. Many have been asking if I’m happy, or if I’m used to it. Frankly, apart from staying alone and being able to go to everywhere I want since transportation is so much more convenient for me – everything else is pretty much the same. I’m not another person here so I don’t see why any drastic change would occur since I’ve only been here for about 5 weeks. Coming here to Beijing, I’ve seen people just letting themselves go and do whatever they want. It’s obvious they’ve never lived this life until they set foot in Beijing – hardcore partying acting like a douche.

I also don’t get to speak too much Chinese here because the community here in my building of international backgrounds and Chinese is definitely not their favorite tool of communication. We do speak it to each other sometimes though, especially to classmates because you tend to get used to the language with them. However, once you step outside the class it’s a different story altogether because you meet your new friends with English. I’m also surprised to have not met any Malaysians yet (I know theres 1 or 2 around) but I was expecting quite a community to be here. Not that I was expecting to be with Malaysians because that’s the last thing I want to do when I go overseas, I love my fellow Malaysians but I’m here for the international experience. I do get to hear the heartwarming Malaysian/Singaporean accent sometimes on the streets and I get a funny fuzzy feeling. I’ve gone up to 3-4 people just to say hello upon hearing the lah‘s.

I don’t know where should I start because I have been so far behind the journal. But I think I should just show you abit of this and that through the photos in my phone.

This was the line at the beginning of the term when everyone wanted to change classes (from afternoon to morning sessions, and from this level to that level). This is also the classroom corridor of my uni. I skipped 2 hours of class to stay in line! Good thing I did, because the line got SO long when classes dismissed. I was going to apply to upgrade my level by one stage and I was hearing all these horrible stories about the interviewers making the applicants read from the textbooks to pass the application. That’s horrible news because I couldn’t read anything besides 你 (you),我(me), 他 (him),事 (case), 是(is), 很(very(,对不起(s9rry) etc. I sat down and panicked so I just blabbered everything in my mind, leaving her no space to let me read. To my surprise, she really didn’t – and let me through the application! What a relief!

Alot of them are not allowed to switch if they dont have a valid reason, and even if you really want to – you’ll have to look for somebody from the other session to switch. And some people just took advantage of that to earn a few more bucks.

During my first week, Yui also sent me all these AWESOME stuff that I’ve been using even up until now. Heatpacks and many other basic lifestyle things like plugs and such. I bought one a bag of 20 heatpacks and was trying to save on it because I heard weather wasn’t going to be warm that soon. Ah, brings me another topic to discuss about – I was all prepared for spring when I felt that the temperature was getting warmer. My phone app was showing me all these predictions of 15-17 degree . Indeed, one day it was so warm (not in the context of lovely Malaysia) I finally got to wear my sleeveless tops and cycle around with it. There was still abit of breeze so it was such a nice ride out – I cycled around campus for 3 hours at least!

From Japan!

The thing about Beijing weather is, it sometimes gets too polluted and when it does – there will be this huge sandstorm once a week where we’ll have really strong wind that moves things and slows us down from bike speeding. It sucks, because it gets SO cold but there will always be  clear and blue sky the next day because the pollution would have all gone away with the wind. One day it got so cold again, and I predicted that there was going to be a sandstorm again (hoping for clear skies everyday) so I hopped in my room from the afternoon (I usually stay out and study till dinner) trying to get warm until the night when I have acapella (yes I joined the Tsinghua Acapella team!).

It was my first day trying to locate the place with Theresa, one of the members, who was trying to bring me to the practice room. I still remember that night, it was SO cold and it was raining for the first time ever since my arrival in Beijing. Cycling to the practice room was a dread because I didn’t know where it was and we were under the rain, and my hands were frozen and numb while trying to control my bike. I just had to shake the whole torture off by believing that there was going to be great weather tomorrow! Rain,wind and coldness – referring to the previous experiences, it always means good weather as I mentioned.

Acapella takes about 2 hours, so we quickly went into the building after parking our bikes to get warm. After the session, I was hoping that the rain would have stopped by then. Rain makes everything so dirty because the pollution’s so bad. After the rain that morning I found my bike in super brown water stains, looks like someone poured Milo on my bike. That was the case for the rest of the hundreds of bikes parked around me. Anyway, I went out of the studio after acapella that night to find that it was snowing! I was beyond shocked because I remember being in that sleeveless top not too long ago. Then I thought probably it was because it was too cold, so it snowed. The ride back was worst than my way there because I was cycling in falling snow, but it was also nice because I was cycling home with both my acapella friends and we all sang Disney songs together one the way back to our dorms on the bike. Feels like a movie! It was also secretly fun to have snow dropping on top of your nose. I didn’t like the cold, but I knew I wouldn’t have many opportunities to be cycling in snow once I get back to KL from Beijing. None, actually. As much as I hated it, I was secretly thanking God to have blessed me with such happy little moments that I could keep, remember and to share!

The next morning when I woke up for class, I could see the sun shine SO brightly and the sunrays were just peeking out from my curtains. AHH! Good weather today, I thought. So unlike the usual sleepy mornings when I feel so unmotivated because its cold, I jumped straight from bed and got so fresh immediately. Warmth, come to MAMA! Quickly I went to open up my curtains, I even had a giddy smile just waiting to come out when I see the sun.

When I did, I saw this.

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT? Are you kidding me! This is literaly the view out my window. The branch with FULL OF SNOW. And everything out there was bleach white. I immediately wanted to jump back into my blankets. Then I realised the warmth I felt was all only imaginary, and it wasn’t warm at all. It dropped to such low temperatures the following days – up till today.

Beijing is a world of mystery.

This was also one of the better meals we had in the early weeks in Sanlitun. Sanlitun is a place of better food, and is also the place where alot of people go to club. There are half naked women dancing on tables, and people who walk pass these pubs can always just look into these places. Amanda first pointed it out to me when we walked pass. Such charity, I thought. Should show you more photos of Sanlitun the next time I go. Despite the fancy pancy things there, there’s this silk Market where you cut down prices 60% to 70%. It’s where all the fake stuff is – so if you ever want to get anything you can always go there.

Orientation hall before we started the semester to brief us on yadayada. Not everyone here is from the program, its just orientation for all the foreign students in Tsinghua University for all courses. I had such a hard time finding this place because this was so early in the semester and I had no idea where Building A,B,C or D was. I thought orientation was on this day so I spent about an hour looking for it and was rushing it so much because Orientation was supposed to be at 2.00 and when I realised it was time for me to leave the room,  it was already 2.30! So I rushed and got so unsettled because I couldn’t find it and the people around didn’t know what I want because I had no idea what the Main Building’s name is called in Chinese.

Spent an hour looking for it in the huge campus (but it turned out to be only a 5 minute away cycle) and when I finally got there, nobody was able to tell me where the orientation was in that building. I looked for the place up and down in the building for another 15 minutes trying to call everyone I knew but nobody was picking up. When I was going to give up and head back home, I received calls from all them and they all told me the same thing – “Orientation isn’t today!”

Life of Natalie, but no surprise. I made it to the real orientation the next day, on time. And it only took 5 minutes at the back of Marian’s bike – because I still dint have any yet (which explains my hour-long search for the building)

I’ve been trying to keep up with all the vocabs that I’m learning so here’s a glimpse of my chart. I haven’t been updating it for so long because words get harder, I think by now I should have about 500-600 words that I should know. Not characters, but vocabs. Left the middle column blank so I can test myself. Even getting the slightest glimpse will help me cheat myself.

Here’s a peek of what happens in class. This one was when our teacher gave us a real menu off a real restaurant and our homework was to go through it and pick two dishes each. After that she’ll ask us why we chose those dishes and its so funny cause most of us chose the ones that’s easiest to read and write. Some also chose their dishes because they couldn’t read any character at all, so they were just giving it a shot.

When it came to my dish, she circles it and said “Hmm, this person must be a guy! All meat! Who wrote this?”

“Me!”

“Oh…that’s odd”

The first two people I met when I came into the class. This wasn’t supposed to be my class so when I sat in to try out I sat next to them. Angel and Shella are from Indonesia and they always get identical things when it comes to their posessions because its cheaper to get them that way. Its funny how they also wear it on the same day. They have the same pair of shoes, same bag, same bottle etc. Twins of our class.

Getting a cab to Nan Luo Gu Xiang.

I haven’t been to alot of places in Beijing, but so far this place (Nan Luo Gu Xiang) is my favorite of all. Mainly because of how it has so much food and quaint shops, it’s almost like Insadong of Beijing but this with more food. There were heaps of people on the day I went, but that didn’t stop me from hopping from one shop to another. I was so hungry! I think I probably spent about ¥ 100 on food alone in this place, too expensive for one meal but super worth it to try all the different things on the street! They even had churros with ice cream. Only ¥ 20 for 5 sticks of churros with a glob of ice cream – cheaper than the ones we got in Bukit Bintang for a ripoff.

Beijing has a lot of alleys, and they call it hutong (photo above). The one above is not Nan Luo Gu Xiang but one of the other hutongs that we went for breakfast before NLGX, which looks like the photos below. It isn’s exactly a traditional hutong, but still a kind of hutong – just very modernised.

 

Aaah! I have about 8 photos more and I will type so much more in one post, and you will not read everything if its a long one, right!

So far that’s Beijing (not really, I have quite a number more of stories to tell) for me if you have been wondering.I’ll move the rest up to the next one with photos of the snow from that horrible Sunny Curtain Disappointment Day. I’m rushing to get dinner now so I’ll update again soon (I hope I mean this!)

 

Snow and Noodles

Well, I have to admit I’ve not been trying my best to update this page. But thanks to my dorm’s constant no supply of hot water this week, I have decided to just take my shower and bunk in for the rest of the day. It snowed pretty hard last night so now my feet is as cold as ice. But I am seated infront of my laptop with a cup of boiling hot noodles and that makes life sounds so much better. But no. Because Chinese instant noodles makes me nauseous.

Almost ten years back I came to China with my family. We were here for quite some time (probably a week or two?) so we stocked up in cup noodles. I remember having them and they made me feel sick each time I had them that very scent of uncooked instant noodles made me feel like throwing up. I forgot about that, and stocked up on some instant noodles here again. Theory is proven. Chinese noodles have some weird taste to it. Such a turnoff. One of my favorite things in life (usually unhealthy). Good thing Mcdonalds here isn’t failing me. Else I’ll pack my bags and take the next flight back to KL.

Just kidding, Mom.

My cycling has now improved I can cycle in between two people, but still can’t multitask very well. Some people are cycling while reading (This Is China), some couples cycling while holding hands (This is China) while others just cycle with both their hands in the pocket (This is China). But while I was super super slow and bad, I was too excited with my new founded skill that I just cycled around campus for 2 hours just to redeem what I’ve been missing for the past years during mini getwaways back home when friends and family would cycle and I would just sit aside and watch. Took some photos while I was at it so here are some photos of my campus. I can’t wait for the real spring to come, when trees wouldn’t be so bald anymore. Campus would look lovely by then.

They have many many bicycle stores in campus so you’re really just got to do your research if you’d want to get one. I got my bike for 220 yuan. My other friends got a different one for 20 yuan less. But mine says “Magic”.

I’ll pay 20 yuan extra for some magical ride, no problem.

Playgrounds are not only for children here. In fact, they are mainly utilised by senior age groups. Most of them come to do light exercises. The uni is pretty much like a tourist spot, so people do come and visit or spend a day with their families. Pretty bizarre.

Everybody takes a photo with their bike. I’m not the only one.

Right?

I get more and more confident cycling week by week so every fortnight I go to this guy to put my seat a little higher than before. I had it fixed at its lowest point because I couldn’t stand not having to touch the ground, but now the higher it gets the easier it is for me ride comfortably. I’ve been there thrice so far, and now when I ask to fix it higher he was like “You think you’re so lihai now huh?” I have no translation of that, it just kind of means he thinks I think I’m getting so good at cycling.

Yeah sure, yeah I could take that as a compliment.

He also asked where I was from so I told him Malaysia. Then he’s said “Oh, Malaysian girls are always pretty“. So I was like “Oh come on, 那里那里 8) (but all ready to take the compliment)”. Then this other uncle breaks the bubble by saying “Nah, Korean girls are prettier!!”

Apek. Xie xie, uncle.

Chinese are their direct way of speech are hilarious. I mean, let the man do his business sugar talk! Hahaha!

These are the local dorms, far different from the international dorms. They only get one period of hot water supply – only at night.

Well, I wanted to show you more of what I’ve been doing but my phone is syncing at an absurd speed right now. I’ve just been taking photos with my phone these days cause I don’t know when I’d need my camera. It’s a bad idea, cause I’d prefer my photos to be super clear and no phone can replace the quality of my camera (or can it?). So to make up for it, here’s a video of my super bumpy ride during my first week of cycling. My mom saw it and she was like “BORING” (tsk) so if you have time for something boring, or possibly entertainingly boring – then here’s a video of me cycling and struggling to really talk and concentrate at the same time. I was looking for the Bicycle Man for the first time on my own so I documented my first solo tour of the campus.

It really is just a video of me almost not talking at all. Usually when I don’t talk on rides, I’m screaming inside! HAHA.

But good news is, I am alot better now!! (Necessary disclaimer)

The Forbidden City

Hello.

It’s been about two weeks since I’m in China. Safe to say I’m good and well, my liver’s still with me and (touchwood) not feeling anywhere under the weather with the pollution. Temperature is getting warmer, I think we’re getting to spring really quickly. Can’t wait till the trees get their hair back again. Classes have been great. Switched classes because I felt that I could do a little bit more than my allocated class, and I find it to be almost perfect now. Would’ve hoped for it to be a level higher, but that’s just being too ambitious for my reading and writing capabilities.

Just before classes commenced, we made a trip to Tiananmen’s Forbidden City. Pollution was quite bad that day so photos didn’t really turn out that great so I filtered the skies with a hint of blue so it doesn’t look so depressing to look at. Also because I feel like I reside here now, I don’t take as many photos as a foreigner would when walking in the Forbidden City. Taking things for granted for sure. I took more photos in the Petronas Twin Towers than when I was here. Then again, it was also so cold that day it just felt too tiring to lift up a finger and have photos of each corner of the place. I love palaces and such, especially when we get to listen or read stories about what happened in the place. So bizarre to have had royalties living the life in this huge square, from room to room, pavilion to pavilion  I love reading about how concubines were put into which room for review, where the King had his meals, how people were sentenced.

It was a weekend so there were loads of people. Thought we could skip the queue if we arrived early, but there were also groups who were even earlier. Reminds me of the times when I joined tour groups and we were forced to wake up at 5.00 in the morning. Dreadful.

“1,2,1,2,1,2”

Henry, Marian, Keshav, Nat, Amanda, Andrew, Mike.

They’re kind of like my early family in Beijing now since we met even before the semester started. Really thankful and I can’t stop telling people how I feel really blessed just being here. It really means something to me, how people from different parts of the world just happen to come as one. Its one thing to be in a class together, but another to actually come together from different circumstances and incidents. China may be hell for some, but I think with the right people it will potentially be one of the most memorable place to be and to remember for a lifetime. 

Entrance fees was only 20 yuan for us students. We all were so new so there wasn’t any ID. Anyhow we just went to the counter and said “Student” and we were given student price. Sweet.

Would have been alot prettier with leaves on the trees, but I guess this could do.  Blues skies would have helped too but pollution that day was just bad.

To top things off, it was also a really cold day to be out. Look at Henry freezing his bones out. (tears)

Fei mui chais in in winter clothes. So nice to be back with Amanda actually. Miss the years without her in school – but it’s like we never grew apart. Love that!

This is the room for when the King brings in a new wife.

It then got quite cold so some of us when in here to get food or to defrost. I got some “Ri Gou” (literal translation for hotdogs) to fuzzy up my insides. There’s an art gallery inside that has its doors closed. I read too many stories about Chinese scammers I just had to get out the moment the closed the door. I don’t want to be stripped off my clothes in this cold weather haha!

Us again. I like how we all met in different circumstances but everybody just came into one.

Look at the my cute Amanda. Haha so small and vulnerable looking with her mask on. Looking intellectual.

 

Are you bored of group photos yet? Hahaha.

Till the next time.

Beijing : Settling Down

Hello everybody!

Been such a crazy month. I’m finally settling down in Beijing. Met some nice people on my third day already. I haven’t got the chance to take many photos because it’s still winter here and it’s too cold for me to just reach out and take a shot. I’ve uploaded a few on my Instagram but that’s like a super quick one. Took my placement test today – all in Chinese. Most of the class were just blanking out, which is quite hilarious to see. Adapting to the Beijing people very quickly though.

I came to this place with extremely bad expectations of the place. I’ve heard too many stories to actually get on the flight hoping to land on cotton and rainbows. However, third day here – just been meeting nice people. A few of us are wondering if the ‘mean’ Chinese are all back in their hometowns for Chinese New Year – but I personally think it’s probably just they talk that people can’t really accept? I mean, there are cultural differences and I’ve learnt to accept these petty things. They don’t hold doors, they don’t smile at you in elevators, they speak a little loud. But I think it’s just because its their culture and I don’t think its because they’re so full of themselves that they make many people feel offended?

Yeah, there are a few sour people here and there but I’m not going to generalise it. It may be the Law of Attraction. Probably I’m really just seeing nice things (and when I mean nice things, I mean just people being normal people – apologising when they need to, saying their excuse me’s) and I’m expecting to see more of it. In fact, when we apologize to somebody when bumping to them on the streets in KL – people just usually walk away or sulk. Here there are alot of them that responds and tells me “Its okay” or “Don’t worry about it”.

It’s all really petty petty things, but you know – I really came here expecting trucks of people to be shouting to me at my face or ignoring me when I talk. I’ve got Beijing friends but I know they’re not like that – and I didn’t want to generalise so I just really came thinking Oh God. You know, China is just…China. Language is something you have to understand with its culture to be able to understand why they’re speaking in that tone, voice level, and that expression. It’s a whole package and not just words that you hear. I’m no linguist but one very important thing that I’ve learnt while understanding foreign languages is that loud voices don’t always equal to anybody being rude. It’s just how people communicate with people in between their culture.

Anyhow here are some photos from the phone and the camera (only when I’m indoors) from the first few days in Tsinghua. Alot are on Instagram already so I’m just leeching off from there.


Couldn’t get any sleep on the place actually. So I just fidgeted here and there. Don’t normally do this on flights but because I know my skin is going to be crazily cracked since I never use moisturisers my whole life. Coming to this dry and cold weather’s gonna kill me. So I tried putting on a moisturising mask just half an hour before I landed.

 photo IMG_0728_zpsf4c474ff.jpgOriental welcoming thing. It was the first Chinese artsy thing I saw upon arrival so I just had to take a photo.

It took me about an hour after touch down to finally walk into my room at the Zijing Apartments at Tsinghua University. Cabbie was very nice, he talked to me about various things and about Beijing. I love meeting chatty cabbies. It was about 30 minutes away from the airport and costed below 100 yuan. Very reasonable as compared to KL.

This is actually pretty good already, but I wanted a little bit of my own flavor. I want to be by the window when I wake up. It’s almost like a dream because my room back home has no sunlight coming in at all so this was a good change. I now know what does it feel like to be waken up by the sun. Well, almost. So I shifted things around a little. Brought the closet at the entrance into the living area, took off the tv cabinet and made it my bedside table, turned the bed otherway. Now my room looks like this. Probably going to get a few more stuff to make it more complete, but this actually does it for me.

I was a little lucky because the receptionist actually bothered asking if I want sun coming in my room. I thought I’m gonna be here for so many months and its probably going to be winter most of the time so it was a DEFINITE yes. I get pretty good view of this side of the campus streets.

I took a little long walk around campus alone because I hadn’t met anybody upon arrival. The campus is really huge, and I don’t know if its because of the weather. Probably also because I didn’t know where I was heading to, so things felt really far away. Everybody usually bikes around – but the problem is I can’t cycle. I’ll probably learn it when the weather isn’t so cold anymore. Would do me great good.


Beijing is not dirty, but it feels like they never wash their vehicles.

On my second day Amanda arrived back in Beijing so we met up for dinner at Sanlitun. Really been meaning to go there because so many Beijing hashtags are photos of this place. It’s a 20 minute cab ride from our side of the campus and costs 50 yuan, max. Just before we met up I went to get my cell done because I couldn’t get in touch with the people I met and it just feels like you’re hanging out of nowhere.

Just before I started using my data (total newbie of mobile data) I just had to sit at this coffee shop to leech of its wifi and do all my updates so I don’t need to use my data to do it. Only got 720mb per month.

So at night Amanda and I went to Sanlitun and had some good dinner. Proper dinner, I would call it since it was in a restaurant and all that. I felt like hot soup so we went to a Chinese restaurant and just headed back after dinner. Wanted to do rounds but I was rushing back for my hot water curfew (yes) before 12:00AM.

Dining in campus is pretty cheap. We get stuff for about 5-10 yuans. I’ve been eating noodles, baozi, and noodles. Anything that keeps me warm. We get canteen cards just like in primary school and just gets credit cut off. Pretty interesting. I like it because that means I don’t need to bring much cash just to go out and have meals.

Have a lot of days more in future so till then! Zai Jian!

Wo Lai Le!

Hello everybody.

So today is the announcement of Plan 2013. It’s probably not a biggy for anybody else, but it is for me!

I’m going to Beijing for a Chinese course in approximately 48 days.

This post will probably be posted in January when I finally have everything laid out.

I didn’t do it for when I went to Seoul and ended up forgetting most of the things when many of you asked. So for this post I’m thinking of putting down my application process and etc so that more of you can get the most of it. I’m quite lost looking up for information but sites like the Chinese-Forums.com did help a bit with testimonials from different people all over the world.

I really don’t like sharing plans that are not ‘set’ because I don’t want to be asked for updates or feel obligated to explain possible plan changes. Frankly, it gets quite strenuous if you’re trying hard to wish for the best and people are like “So how?” and some people tend to insert irrelevant and unnecessary comments about wherever you’re going.

Now waiting for the day people will say I’m heading to China because I’m crazy for Chinese Pop (sarcasm intended, only for those who pulled the whole Korean Pop thing on me then). Have always been thinking of brushing up on my Chinese because I’ve never been good at it. My speaking and listening improved tremendously when I was in Seoul because I hung out mainly with Cinaboy and I think the amount of Chinese I spoke there probably summed up to more than what I have spoken my whole life before Seoul. I then came back and stopped speaking altogether. The last time I really used Chinese in a proper conversation was when a Chinese women got lost in Taylors. I’ve planned to get there right after I came back from Seoul – since I was still riding the wave. Then I took up my Diploma course and ended up being here today, four years later, with a Degree in Media Management.

It’s an ultimately delayed plan to implement. I’ve wanted to do it right after my degree but folded the idea again because I thought I’ll be missing registration already anyways. My course was ending in November, and my following internship would end Mid Jan. I read up somewhere that the course starts June July and I wasn’t willing to wait a few more months (and spend time not getting a proper job) just for the course. So I decided I’d end my internship and go job hunting.

It was then when Amanda dropped a note asking if I was going over (because we talked about going there together awhile ago) because she decided to stay in Beijing for a while more. I talked things out with her and got to know that I am actually NOT late for application – and I only had about a month to be doing nothing after my internship until the course starts.

This was 25th of September 2012. The moment I finished talking to her, I started my research and proposed it to my family – to which they kind of happily accepted, which I am grateful for. It’s always nice to have people who support what you like to do, and you don’t get that too often. I don’t know what I want to be, but this is what I like to do. Sent off to explore, meet people, sightsee, fall and learn.

I started emailing people from China from broker sites to land myself a good place to stay because I heard the Tsing Hua dorm is sort of dodgy – and most importantly co-ed. I wouldn’t mind co-ed apartments or anything but dorms do sound a little intimidating. They don’t go off too cheap too, but definitely a great cost lifter if compared to other houses in Beijing. However, probably about 3-4 days of emailing tenths and tenths of people – I only got one final answer.

Accommodation in China, especially those for rent – can only be discussed the month or most preferably TWO weeks BEFORE you fly over.

I almost flipped at all their responses. I can’t be flying to an unknown country not knowing where to stay 🙁 But you gotta live by the country’s code of living – so I’ll try again after getting my dates certain etc. So anyway, for those who are here for the procedures – or those who’re curious about the application process, here goes!

 I’m doing this because I’ve only got so much information online from the experienced and they were all quite backdated so probably processes have changed – I don’t know. So this post is not for the text-weaklings because there’s going to be a WHOLE lot of text. Unless you are waiting for your cake to bake, or you are hiding from the world and have absolutely nothing to spend for the next 15 minutes.

Timeline for my application for the Chinese Course in Tsing Hua University for the Spring semester in 2013.

 

15th October 2012

Today’s application recruitment day!

I went to my uni early in the morning and rushed straight to the computer lab to sign up! The Online Application System that wasn’t there in the website is now finally there (http://is.tsinghua.edu.cn/EN/navigator.php).

I ended up being Applicant Number 2.

 

25th October 2012
My documents were finally acknowledged. They asked for me to pay the application fee which was about RMB 400, which converts to about RM 200. One thing worrisome about this is that paying for the application fee does not guarantee your admission. Normally language courses will take you in, but there is still that sense of anxiety in you. They take credit card payment, but I suspect they charged me a little bit more. Not sure if it was the conversion or surcharge.

 

8th  November 2012

Checked my application status today.

Have been having a couple of problems logging in the Online Application System to check my status because instead of showing the login form – the site keeps telling me there is a system error because I am not logged in. Problem is, I couldn’t even log in.

But good news is I tried logging in with Mozilla (Both Google Chrome & Safari gave me the same error), and I’m finally admitted! The administrator left a note at the top of the application system above my form with a long note.

Apparently registration of the course is on the 18th of February 2013 which means I have to be there to register and pay. Probably would have to be in Beijing before the 18th – and that’s gonna be a tight call. Would have a short family trip for CNY to Tanjung Jara on the 11th of February and coming back on the 14th. Probably would have to fly off on the 15th of 16th of February 2013.

Should be my first experience getting on a plane to different destinations in a span of one week!

 

18th December 2012

It has been a long pause since I last started doing anything. But I started clicking on the air tickets and they were running out. I still haven’t got my package yet. It’s been more than a month – but my application package’s status is still unknown. But amidst all the hoohaa, I’ve finally bought my air ticket today. It was quite a rush, because I didn’t know prices were hiking up slowly.

So yes. got my airplane ticket today.

Probably gonna break news in a while. Maybe in January.

I’m not prepared.

Is this funny?

 

19th December 2012.

AHHHH! For those who caught this message few weeks ago.

Screw this. Haha secret is not so secretive anymore. It’s been published for a day – but i never knew 🙁

Going to keep it back again 🙁 Hope nobody saw . But my blog stats are not suggesting so.

#failedsyoksendirisurprise.

 

31st December 2012

Haha reading back on the previous logs above.

18th December says I’m not ready. But 31st December be is fully geared up to be in Beijing!

Truly excited about the journey, can’t wait to go already! And I have finally decided to be staying in the dorms (which Amanda will highly disapprove of) because it’s so much more convenient. The problem now is that I won’t be able to confirm 100% that I’ll get a spot, but I think I probably will!

Wee!