Day 55 - Festive Crowded Park

Saturday, April 2nd, 2016
Smog Level: 3/3 Mountains

Today is a beautiful day, and the first day of the long weekend. Silvia and Co. are inside the park where everyone seems to want to go. She also has our tickets.

Standing near the gate, waiting for our friends to find us, I can tell we’re in an area without many foreigners. A quick glance tells me that ~10 people are staring at me. We move closer to the gate. I hear someone hock up a loogie. I look. It’s an older woman, standing with the standard “old person” posture - forward hunch, hands clasped together behind her back. She spits with disregard. I grimace and make a sound of disgust, forgetting for a moment that some things aren’t protected by the language barrier. 4 or 5 people are looking at me, with more as they pass.

Can you spot the person openly staring at me?
There's also (at least) one in the Main picture up there.
Silvia arrives, and passes us the tickets. Inside, we meet GuGaGa, another of their high school friends. Silvia’s Grandma and Grandma’s friend are also there. They’re cute and move quite slowly. We walk into the park, sifting through the crowds and stands. There are a number of picturesque spots, and Shimou wants to stop for a picture.

And that’s how we got separated.

A moment later, that boy near the left tree will whip out his... y'know..
and start taking a piss. Don't assume it's normal - a lot of people reacted.
I don’t mind big crowds anymore, even though people will stare at me as they pass. Shimou does. Strange, considering she’s from a (this) crowded city, and I’m from a small town. I decided to start writing down what people’s shirts say. I keep telling people back home that they say nonsensical things often, but have no examples. Now there’s Proof! Worst one today: “rib rave trooped sdgcb sa bertn.” Yeah, I don’t think that’s any real language. She caught me writing it down when I was on the last “word.” It got a little awkward. 

Dat Bridge
We pass some shops. They sell sweets, but only in amounts of 1/2kg or more. Not looking for that much, only one or two. There’s a stand with video game figurines, and I see one of a Mario character, Toad. “duǒ shǎo qián?(“how much?” [do-uh sh-ow ch-yen]). “¥20” he says. “taì guì le(“too expensive” [tie gwey le]) I respond, placing the figurine down. He immediately drops the price by 50%. ¥10? Deal! And thus concludes the first barter of this trip.

Some crowd battling later, we leave the park to meet back up with the group. Bebe has also arrived, and they’re ready to fly a Doraemon kite. First couple attempts result in failure, one of which gets the kite caught in a tree. Tall guy to the rescue!

Other side of Dat Bridge
While the girls run around with the kite, I chatted with GuGaGa. He’s smoking, and I’m breaking in a new pair of shoes, so neither is interested in running around. He works as a screenwriter from home, living in his parents house while they galavant elsewhere. He tells me that he has a “hole in the brain.” This sounds like a bad thing, as a lot of mandarin-to-english metaphors seem to, but means that he has endless ideas/creativity. I guess “portal to another dimension in the brain” just doesn’t have the same conciseness to it.

The guy with the pole was too short,
So I beat him up and took it from him.
We talked about the US (he studied in Arizona), China, Canada, and Mexico. He pointed out that the air is always clear in Beijing whenever there’s a festival, implying that it might be some sort of economic reasons why the government hasn’t fixed the issue. Curious. I joke that China is just waiting for solar power to reach a certain point, then snap their fingers and power everywhere with it. He laughingly agrees.

The group says goodbye to the elderly ladies, and catch a cab to a restaurant. It’s another one thats in the style of traditional Beijing. Sean meets us there. The translations on the menu are.. funny. Examples: “hutong (laneway) explodes the lamb,” “knot in one’s heart of seafood soup,” and the simply put “piece of tofu.” How appetizing! A sign next to the table says “please take valuables,” which can be interpreted a few ways. My favorite is the one that’s telling you to rob them.

Like I said, when Chinese people go out to eat, they order a bunch of things and share them all. “You have to be quick when you eat with Chinese people,” Shimou semi-jokes. 

We finish dinner, and I have them over to my place. We play cards while drinking beer, tea, coffee and… yogurt. Silvia gets upset when trying I teach them the game asshole,” or “president,” whatever you prefer to call it. She loses the first round and declares that the game sucks and we should change it. We play a couple more rounds before Bebe has to pick up her brother, opening the opportunity to switch to golf. They had suggested Mah Jong, but I neither know how to play, nor own the game. Gotta get on that.

Eventually, everyone goes home, and we call it a night.

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
With today's words, you can see that tones really can matter! Context is always king, however.
spicy chicken - là jī [lah jee]
garbage - lā jī [lah jee]

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