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Monday, March 15, 2004

(sorry, i didn't get a chance to post yesterday's email from Chris.... so today I'm posting yesterday's email, followed by today's. ~jane)

Since I did not get a chance to write last night as I was in extreme pain and exhausted, I will do so this
morning. I woke up this morning and decided to go explore the city. I waited around the hostel to see if
anyone wanted to go, but the girls had already left for Xian. The Japanese girl was all that remained, and
she had a tour guide. Not wanting to interfere with her tour, I decided to go at it on my own. I grabbed
my backpack and started walking toward the metro. Now, I really like Lonely Planet. It is a very good travel
guide, but I must say that the maps in this book are the most deceptive thing that I have ever seen. What
looks to be a short five minute walk is actually a ten city block jaunt across five major intersections.
This did not bother me as I found a supermarket and bought some snacks. I ate along the way. It was a good walk as well. I got into the subway and bought my ticket. Only thirty cents. I then went to Tienamen
Square. I got off and looked around the square and took some pictures. It is very crowded and pretty in
that Communist Cement architecture sort of way. I was then approached by two girls who wanted to show me their art exhibit at the national gallery, so I followed, and they showed me all of their paintings. They were very beautiful. They were inks done on rice paper or silk. They asked me if I wanted to buy and I said no, but I did get them to do a beautiful calligraphy painting for me. It was a little expensive, but it is truly stunning. It is going to be a gift, so I will not say what it is. I left there and walked around Tienamen some more. The square is alright, but I was happy to leave as I kept getting approached by people who wanted to practice their Chinese with me. The first two people were alright. The next ten were just burdensome, but I practice. I then made it to the Forbidden City. Did a quick jaunt as not to be caught by an would be English students. I walked through the first two gates which are spectacular. Between them is a very large bizarre. Quite unique. I then paid to get into the city then the walking began. I can only describe the forbidden city as the louve of the east. Not because, it is loaded full of paintings and stuff, but because it is simply humongous and it is like a maze. You can get lost around every corner. Some of the gardens and architecture are very neat though. I was in there for most of the day then got out and went to a garden next door and relaxed. It was very peaceful and beautiful. I enjoyed it greatly for the serenity. Unlike the city which was packed to the rim with people. I can not imagine what it is like during the summer when the tourists are there. When I got up, I decided that it was time to go home. My legs simply ached at this point. This is saying a lot as well since my legs are very strong. I wal;ked outside, and
it was quite erry. The army had cleared all of the people out of Tiennamen and everything was roped off.
I really felt a little scared although apparently this is how they clear the crowds. All to happy to leave, I
found my way to the subway and rode to my stop. At which point, I had to walk back the ten city blocks. I
got back to the hotel and rested on the sofa. Talk with an Irish theatre guy. He was on a six week tour
across Asia. He was very excited. After recovering, I then went and got dinner. I ate cheap this night. No
duck for me. The worst part about the duck is when they bring you the whole head to eat. The rest is
carved, but they do the duck. The worst thing on the menu that they has was steamed baby sea turtle. I was horrified. Oh well, I went and ate a shredded Asian like barbecue with rice. I was delicious, and I
could not eat all of it. I then went back and packed then simply crashed on my bed. It was a good but
exhausting day. I was in severe pain when I went to sleep, but I am better now. Christopher

Riding back from Beijing yesterday, I was truly extremely exhausted. I have discovered that it is not too easy waking up at 5:00 A.M. I am not sure how my mother does it almost everyday of the week. Except
hers is 2:00 in the morning. She is the hardest working woman that I know, and she constantly amazes me. I do not know where she gets her drive or ambition from. She is a strong will person that is for sure. Unlike her, I am not sure strong willed. As soon as I got in my Taxi, I was ready to go back to bed, but
unfortunately, driving in china tends to scare the hell of of me. Arriving at the train station, I waited in
the corridor where the trains arrive. Avoiding the melted popsicles and spit, I found me a clean seat.
Eventually, the train arrived, and we departed. I was getting ready to lay down and go to sleep then I was
suddenly approached by a man wanting to speak English with me. Wanting to say no, I agreed anyways as I just do not know how to say no to people. Sitting on the railroad car, we talked and got to know each other. He lives right down the street from me. He had recognized me. Apparently, it a town of five hundred thousand, you tend to stand out when you are the only white guy who lives there. We talked and enjoyed ourselves. He is married and has a wife and child. His wife lives in another city though while she is working on her Masters Degree. His mother and father are raising the child until they are both finished with their studies. He only gets to see them about three or four times a year. I am not sure if I could do that. It sounds so heartbreaking. The mother only gets to see her child on the weekends. What must the child think of the situation. It must be extremely hard on him. The man and I talked, and he kept asking me how to say thins and that, and I told him how to say everything. Then before I knew it, our train had arrived, and I was home. We shared a taxi, and the first thing that I did when I got back was take a very long shower. It felt wonderful. I then went and ate lunch then read the news. I then went and taught my two classes. This weeks assignment was two talk about their favorite games and describe to me how to play them. The first class did not go so well. Many of the students forgot to do the assignment, so I went outside and taught them how to play Red Rover, Duck Duck Goose, and Red Light Green Light Yellow Light Go. The did teach me an interesting string game which little girls play which they jump in and out of and do tricks very interesting looking. I tried but could not do all of them. The second class was simply amazing. They really got into the discussion. The showed me many games the best of which was this awesome dance which they do while they sing their childhood kiddy rhymes. There is about six girls, and they put their left leg behind them and hook it up to someone's else's left leg until all of the legs are hooked together where it looks like a circle. They look a lot like a captains wheel. They then jump on one foot around the circle and sing a song. The song gets faster, and they also go faster. It was simply amazing. I was floored. All of the students had a blast, and I enjoyed myself greatly. It made me reflect on my childhood a lot and many of the games that we used to play. Coming home in a good mood, I tried to access yahoo. An hour later, I said screw it and went to bed. Hope that you are doing alright,

Love,
Christopher

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