An exciting week! I had to interview someone who was my Chinese contemporary for class, and I talked to this girl for over two hours. It was interesting. She basically follows American pop culture, like most Chinese students our age, because the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) destroyed all the old culture and left a vacuum. She did say that she hated Jiang Zemin, but she said, "I can't talk about that." None of them ever openly talk about politics.

I had an early dinner with Anna, Billy and Christina. Then about half the group went to see Beijing opera at an old teahouse. The teahouse was really neat. The opera, well, it was Beijing opera. Anna plugged her ears the entire time. She described it as a circus/opera with Chinese characteristics.

Thursday I taught some people on our trip how to play Mah Jong and then I studied for my test.

Friday, the test; then we had a guest speaker. He was the author of a famous song that summarizes all of Chinese history -- it's in the back of all Chinese textbooks, and all schoolchildren are required to memorize it.

We left Friday night for Qing Dao. The Beijing train station was absolutely gorgeous, especially at night with all the lights on. We were in a Chinese sleeper train; an interesting experience. We were stacked three people high.

We passed by some gorgeous scenery, and when we got to Qing Dao, we passed by the ocean on the way to our hotel. Qing Dao was founded by the Germans in 1897, so it's so unlike Beijing. It's more like a European city: much cleaner, tree-lined streets. I absolutely loved it. The first day, we climbed a hill and were able to view the entire city, and later went to the beach. It was weird thinking about me being on the other side of the Pacific.

The next day, yesterday, we went to the beach in the morning and then to the beer factory. This is where the famous Tsing Tao Beer is brewed and bottled.

After that we went to Lao Shan, a mountain right on the coast. It was astounding. While there, we visited a Daoist Temple. I didn't know what to expect, but I was definitely expecting something older looking ... it had been rebuilt after the Cultural Revolution. Nevertheless, it was still a working temple, and there were 27 monks there. They wouldn't let me take a picture of them. Afterwards we took a walk further up the mountain and saw this beautiful waterfall.

After dinner we got back on the train and took another night train back to Beijing. We left Qing Dao at 9pm, and got into Beijing at 10:30 am. Long long train ride.

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