things that happened in the past few weeks
So my parents came and left Beijing and this along with the increasing intensity of my dance rehearsals have made it difficult for me to update.
First I will update on the dance....
1) we got tap shoes for our riverdancing segment oh joy
2) I think they cut out this really long and intense part where we walk on and under a slippery silk blue cloth and I had duet...this cuts the dance in about half
3) we all have to make a short speech which has been given to us..its more like a few sentences but its pretty hard to get the pronunciation right not to mention how mortifying it is going to be to say it in front of everyone...emily has been given basically a novel to read about stealing her host dad's bike and riding through tian an men square....its quite an awkward story to tell
4) no one in the show is allowed to wear glasses so I' m kinda a little screwed...I have been practicing pretty much blind for the past few rehearsals but I'm thinking of wearing some weak contacts I brought to the real shows
5) I'm kind of a big deal
6) Last friday was parent's night to check out the rehearsals and my (American) parents happened to in the neighborhood so they came and watched the performance...unfortunately I hadn't practiced the dance for two weeks since I kept missing rehearsals. So, I looked like a fool in front of the parents. On the bright side, my parents filmed the show and i will try and post it here asap or on youtube or something.
7) We are getting costumes for the dance and they BETTER be awesome. We have seen the costumes for the calligraphy dance and they have these sick skin tight full body suits. And this army dance is getting swat jackets. All I ask for from these people is a sick costume to be an airplane in.
That's all for the dance for now. Now I will tell everyone about my day. I beat Mi Wa in rock paper scissors. I watched a very strange talent show for the school (which i just spelled scole, go me) involving both a highschool musical dance and a greenday cover, I could not keep up with the Chinese kids during a listening exercise in English class, I broke three nails playing basketball, and I bought a Sprite and opened it on my bed only to witness one of the largest fizz explosions I have ever seen. It sprayed all over my bed uniform and floor for about a minute (I was too shocked at first to do anything). I cleaned this up with toilet paper and finally felt as though I could drink the much-longed for soda. The sprite smelled funny and then it also tasted funny. I supposed it was tweaked slightly for sale in China, but finally had to look at the bottle when the strange taste became overwhelming. It in fact said sprite and then in smaller letters +茶味 (tea flavor). I then wanted to scream and punch China in the face. I discarded the Sprite into my rejected snack bag, things that I would offer to my friends the next day. I also put a can of coffee in the bag. My host grandma decided it was appropriate to give to me the can. I never have had coffee around them for them to assume I like it and it was also 8pm when she gave it to me. Usually she gives me a juice box or coconut milk. Very strange.
And now I will talk briefly about the past few weeks more generally.
I went to Xi An the day after my parents arrived. I didn't really like Xi An but it was an interesting trip as a whole. We were swindled into getting a tour guide for the terra cotta warriors who rushed us through the tombs, reciting info in poor english that was all on nearby plaques, and leading us into countless giftshops, the final one containing a man of about 40 who was introduced as the farmer who discovered the warriors. He was all by himself and would sign a terra cotta warrior book if we bought one. We did not buy one, but we did leave. We went walking around Xi An trying to figure out how to walk up the wall to bike it. In the process, we found a merchant street which was pretty cool. We waited to bike the wall the next day which was awesome. Weird floats were on the wall deserted and disintegrating, mostly of animals and Chinese things but some different countries things like new england trees with orange and red leaves. We saw the Xi An bell tower and the drum tower and they looked the same.
The next week my sister came. I ate dinner with my family after school and rehearsal and sometimes slept at their very fancy hotel on WangFuJing pedestrian street (the wangfujingGRANDhotel). My sister tried to own the Chinese kids at basketball and I would say she was as successful as she could have been for having not played in so long. The next weekend my whole family went to Suzhou and Shanghai. Suzhou (despite being known as the Chinese Venice) had hardly any water. We did take a boat down a canal which was reminiscent of Venice, but that was pretty much the only water we saw. We climbed a pagoda and looked out from the top (where no canals were in sight) and went to a few gardens. The gardens were very cool. The first one was connected to the pagoda and a temple and had lots of turtles and strange colored duck-birds in a pond. The second, "the minsters humble garden" or something, was pretty big and was extremely crowded, being one of the main attractions of Suzhou, but was beautiful nonetheless. It had a bonsai collection which my family loved. The next garden, shizilin (or lion forest) was the coolest thing ever with all these rock caves to climb through and over. It was like a huge beautiful playground. After we returned we went to Shanghai and looked around the Bundt at night. My sister went back to Providence on Sun. morning and due to a holiday in China, grave-sweeping day, there was a three day weekend. I stayed in Shanghai with my parents for another day and went to the Bundt again as well as a huge commercial street. This year's world Expo (whatever that is) is in Shanghai and it's starting soon. Everywhere there was something about the expo, usually the mascot, basically gumbi, but blue and with a little hair curl on his head: http://www.i-chinastyle.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/haibao.jpg . On the commercial street my mom found a world expo store selling many gumbi( the mascot's name is haibao) items. There was stuffed tennis haibao, popular with my parents, traditional chinese clothed haibao, child haibao, and many more. It all depended on which version you like. I think this character is ridiculous for two reasons. One it is unnecessary to have a mascot for a world expo, but China just needs cute little figures for everything. It was basically something made up by the Chinese government for the sole purpose of getting suckers to buy it, which has been pretty successful. I think the government figured that if they but haibao in enough places maybe people would forget how unnecessary it is and would start to believe it was a truly significant symbol of something. My second reason is that if they were going to try and force an unnecessary mascot on people they could at least make it cool and original. Hai bao is a blue blob with two eyes and a mouth with what little form it has taken from Gumbi. Gumbi may not be the most complicated dude but at least he was original. Basically the Chinese government threw up a blue blob and declared it an important and adorable symbol for everyone to love. So everyone loves it. My mom bought even bought some haibao stuff. I didn't mean to go on such a long rant about hai bao, and I don't even feel very passionately about it's popularity and overwhelming presence in Shanghai. However, by my second night in Shanghai I was quite weary of the little guy (or sometimes big guy as he was known to appear in the form of large statues on streets and in buildings). The huge pedestrian had a few flaws, one relating to haibao. Firstly, as some of the few foreigners on the street, my parents and I were targeted by all the sketchy harrassing venders. There where the dudes with the lazer pointer things who chased you down and made weird light patterns in front of your path for a few minutes in an attempt to show how cool their item was, the guys with the pictures of watches and other goods they were trying to sell, the people with the remote control toy helicopters and the guys who tried to sell these wheels you could attach to your shoes. They were by far the worst because once you were targeted they could easily maneuver next to you and try to sell you wheels. No matter how many times I refused they kept on right by my side. It was easy for them to stay with me with their stupid wheel shoes and there were SO many of them like one every four steps. It took a few awkward minutes for one to leave you alone then the next would come. Did they really think I would want one two seconds after finally getting rid of the previous vendor? The helicopters were a little scary at times as they seemed to almost fly into. The watch sellers were also quite persistent and numerous as were the lazer dudes. It was the funniest though to see the guys on wheels swerve around all the asians to get to the ignorant foreigners.
After the stores closed these people remained and the real plague of vendors, those selling bootlegged haibao merchandise came out. They had haibao stuffed animals in all different shades of blue and with all different shaped eyes, piles and piles of haibao. For every block I would say there was at least five people walking with their hands full of haibao goods to sell. Quite annoying. We ended up leaving the pedestrian street at a late hour and went to a food street which all the guidebooks said were opened late. This street was quite western and was made in preparation for the Expo (where people from all over would have booths for their country in Shanghai). There were clubs and bars and western restaurants, an godiva chocolate, a coldstone. Most of the people were white. We ended up going to this chain restaurant that had been written about in the ny times and had restaurants in LA, Australia, and all over Asia. We returned to Beijing the next day, but I had a pretty good impression of Shanghai. It was extremely built up and had a lot of tall western buildings. Beijing has some nice buildings, some tall, but this is amongst many rubble piles. Even the tall buildings don't look as modern as Shanghai's skyscrapers. It reminded me much more of the West and it seemed very international. I think it would be a great place to study in college.
The next week I again struggled to balance time with my parent, my host family, my rehearsals and my school. Tuesday was my Mom's birthday and we went to a korean bbq place. We said we were vegetarians and the waitress had trouble believe this and then was convinced the the dish we ordered should be without egg because of our vegetarianism. We made it clear that we wanted egger, as she called it, but it did not arrive. She went on saying "Ohhh I thought no egger you are vegetarians!" Finally the egger was recieved. On friday Mi Wa and her parents went out to dinner with my parents and I. It was a great vegetarian meal in a siheyuan( a traditional Chinese house with a courtyard in it). The food was all very well done, flavorful, and sometimes a little too convincing, mock meat. There was even a vegetarian peking duck, the most famous dish in Beijing. On Saturday I went to Beihai park which was large and confusing, but somewhat pretty. At night Michelle, Celina, Emily, and I attempted to swim in the Grand hotel but were denied because we lacked swim caps. If i think of anything else to say I will add it but right now I am tired and shall head to bed.