September 20 – Out and about

I got up at 7:30 since we have taiji practice this weekend. Taiji was fine, we did half on the first movement. (we’ve been doing strength building and stances, now we’re working on a movement.) Many of my classmates looked tired, probably having been out too late last night.

After class I went to breakfast with sarah and alice. We went to the place advertising noodles. I got an egg and three small baozi (steamed buns / dumplings with some sort of pork filling.) and a cup of soy milk. Breakfast was quite decent.

I went back to my dorm, took a look at my map and decided to start biking east and see If I’d hit a lake. First though I stopped by the bike mechanic, and paid him two kuai to get the back break out of the way of the front wheel. He hit various pieces of the bike with a hammer until things weren’t getting in other things way. The bike ride was relaxing, and I got out to see a different part of beijing than before. I never really saw a main gate to either of the parks I was looking for, but definitely rode along the edges of a couple of them for quite a while. The bike threatened to fall apart on the way back, but all that happened was one of the metal poles connecting the back axle to the mud guard came off, and hooked into the wheel. I was able to bend it out of the way without any serious issues.

I came back to the dorm at about noon, looked over words a bit more, and then walked down to zhongguancun at about two with sergio and matt. zhongguancun is the major technology area just south of the college, and also a major general purpose shopping area.

We went through the main shopping mall, past a band that was setting up to play and already had a crowded audience in one lobby, and eventually found a pizza place. Sergio had been talking about pizza on the way down, so we decided to go there for lunch. The pizza was in general pretty westernized, as were the prices. I think really most of the mall was probably that way, as it all looked quite upscale. That’s not to say the food wasn’t good, it was, it’s just that it wasn’t anything you wouldn’t expect.

Afterward we walked over to the technology area. I directed us into a very skinny building that had cartoon characters all over the outside. There was an escalator on the outside that took us to the third floor, which was practically deserted, with psp shop near the entrance, and the rest of the floor blocked off. We walked up a floor, and found a typical although small marketplace. It also seemed pretty slow, with many empty store fronts, and not that many people. On the fifth floor were comic book shops, cosplay outfits, and various anime accessories. The sixth floor which was where all the people on the stairwell were heading turned out to be a cosplay restaurant, with the waitresses in various costumes. Since we’d already had lunch we made our exit.

We walked across the street to one of the larger electronic megastores. There wasn’t a specific purpose beyond reveling in the massive quantities of electronics available. I ended up talking for a while to a salesman at a shop hocking edifier speakers. He offered me their R1900 for between 560 and 750 kuai. (the first being under the price offered online, the second over; He had two different models that were both R1900, and I couldn’t quite tell the difference.) I ended up not getting anything, but sergio got a cheaper speaker system from the same shop. (A 2.1 for $160 that sounds decent)

On the way out I noticed a Hi-vi shop, and looking it up online, it turns out that hi-vi is a reasonably respected brand for upscale sound equipment. I’m thinking of going back there and seeing how much they want for monitors. (Then I looked at shipping and realized it would probably cost way more than the speakers to ship anything back to the states. – I guess I can bring one more bag back then I came here with)

We got back at 6-ish, actually I came back about 10 minutes before they did because I was walking faster than them, and got across one of the major intersections while they got stuck at it for a while, and decided to just head back.

I felt like I was getting a cold, so I took a shower and drank some tea, and fiddled around on the internet. I found some more interesting information on the campus network, it turns out that there are lots of easy sources of access to movies and music here, probably much more open than in the US. There are several big ftp servers that provide access to the campus, and the cs department actually has developed it’s own P2P network called maze that it encourages students to use. (sadly windows only.) They’ve actually published studies about network dynamics and user statistics because they are able to keep tabs on the network.

nobody else seemed to be doing much this evening either, although there’s talk of seeing a movie tomorrow. There’s taiji again tomorrow morning, and I’ve got some homework to get through this weekend that I didn’t really get done today. It was good to get out though.