Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Back to School... Week 2

Monday, being tired from Shanghai, wasn't a very exciting day but school was good fun. We were given our Chinese names, chosen by our Speaking teacher after spending the weekend and consulting her friends:

Asia = Ai Sha, meaning lovely girl
Iolo = Ai Lou, meaning nice smelling plant
Colin = Ke Lin, meaning forest of science

  After getting lunch from the noodle restaurant and picking up my laundry...

(which, it appeared, I had succeeded in getting dry-cleaned)

...I spent most of the afternoon in my room writing up the blog etc. Now, amongst the other things that Beijing is famous for, is duck (Peking Duck). I was determined to have some authentic duck before I left and managed to recruit Carmen and Jennifer in my quest to find a restaurant. I'd sought the advice of my tutors earlier in the day but unfortunately we never found the restaurant (opposite WU-Mart) that they had spoken of. So we ended up at a Hainan restaurant with me as the only Westerner in the restaurant (C and J are both Australian-Cantonese ladies). The food and the company was good so I had no complaints!

The day after was interesting since we were joined by a couple of Kazakhstan students, replacing the Russian girl whose 'visa couldn't be renewed' but she really didn't seem too enthusiastic to learn Chinese! These guys had the added difficulty of learning Mandarin in an already foreign language but thankfully one of them spoke enough English to translate commands to the other two.

We had a good couple of lessons, learning a lot of the words for food including frog, dog, donkey, scorpion etc... Also I learnt how to order meat Bouzi, which are steamed stuffed buns with a meatball and some tasty sauce inside. Definitely my favourite snack so far!

In the afternoon, having used my newfound skills on the way to order some Bouzi and then getting the sauce everywhere, and having to use some other newly learnt words but mostly sign language to find out where I could find some tissues, I walked to Beihang University again to meet up with a PhD student called Wang Wenhu - also known as Frank! We had a very good discussion about the Aeronautics University and its work, especially the hopes of its students. Really interesting stuff - most importantly was how obvious it is that Chinese industry is growing so much faster than anywhere else in the work, and funding just keeps going up and up, making it an exciting time to be in the country.

We then went out for dinner. Everyone else from the school was going out for Hot Pot, so I did the same, accompanied by Frank, Wang Yiwei and her friend Ping Yue. Hot Pot is similar to Fondue, but the cooking fluid is a tasty water-based soup on the boil on the table, and it cooks meat, veg, bundles of noodles etc which are then dipped in a peanut sauce before being eaten.

Frank adds some meat (thinly sliced mutton) to the pot

Seeing as it was almost Mid-Autumn Festival, Wang Yiwei also gave me a delicious mooncake to pique my appetite:

One of the side dishes was a collction of beans so, while waiting for the pot to cook, Frank was due a bean-eating challenge, one at a time using chopsticks. First to eat ten wins. Now it was a dangerous game, playing the Chinese at who-can-eat-best-with-chopsticks but I think I only won because he blatently paused before picking up the final bean. What a gent!

Aided by a couple of shot glasses of rice wine, also quite tasty but INCREDIBLY strong, we also got onto the subject of names. Now, I have my Chinese name Ke Lin, and Wang Wenhu has his name Frank (he spent a year in the USA and they didn't like calling him Wenhu which just sounds like two questions, he chose Frank because it can be shouted loudly), but Wang Yiwei and Ping Yue didn't have English names yet! So, after a little bit of thought, Yiwei was christened Eva (after the Wall-E character) and Ping Yue named, predictably, Pingu. I needed to show her the cartoon penguin first but of course it was perfect that she was also wearing a black cardigan over a white shirt!

We headed back to my hotel, this time on the right bus, which was direct and din't even go through Wudaokou! Back in my room, we got onto the subject of Aerospace Engineering (of course) and also they spotted my compendium of flying novels. One thing lead to another and I ended up reading them the (two-page) story of Icarus and Daedalus. I think the girls understood enough to know what was going on and I changed a few words to avoid some of the more archaic phrases. But it was a good, moral story of ensuring that Engineers do a good job and most importantly - fully brief the end-user as to the design envelope limits!
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1 comment:

  1. Hi Ke Lin,
    Mum got me unto your blog.Just read from July till here in China.
    Loving the stories - great experiences - super photos. Looking forward to reading the rest in due course.
    Happy travelling.
    Trudi ( from golf/ sauna)