Day 7: Ao Shan, Olympic Park, and The Acrobats
I took a trip to the ole college grounds and consequentially, have experienced yet another delay. This will never end.
Onward I go to my 7th day in China–the odious halfway point. As you know from my previous entries, I tried to mold a trip to China out of every authentic piece I could find. If I was doing something such as the Great Wall that I simply could not miss out on, I needed it to be what the Chinese would experience, not what the classic American sees. Today however, pushed and pulled me into every corner of Beijing that I had avoided and yet, I found myself realizing that every now and again, the tourist experience is part of the fun. And there was absolutely no denying that no matter how fluent I could be in Chinese or how quietly I slipped into their culture, I would always and forever be a foreigner. No clothing can hide the differences between me and Mr. Wong. (The classy driver who took us places when we weren’t subjected to the cruel standing torture of the subway.)
The adventurous duo of myself and Mari was accompanied by her mother, sister, and sister’s friend that morn. We set off in what I learned is a universal euphoria experienced by all shopping women, regardless of time zone. From what I saw, there is a significantly less amount of classic Western style department stores. Perhaps I saw only the portions that my friends chose me to saw, but it seemed as though most people purchased clothing through the markets as opposed to an air-conditioned extravaganza of options.
The destination was a place called Ao Shan which had fused Walmart and Kohl’s together to create this sort of department store. We initially went to the clothing section where I purchased my dear sister some of her precious Asian style clothing, complete with ruffles, polka dots, and pastel colors. She had given me money for me to spend on her and this was great fun at this place. Chinese fashion involves treating one’s body as a collage; colors are fluid and clashing prints live in peace. Women are bolder and seem to follow more of their own impulses in their clothing, although perhaps there is a Chinese Vogue telling everyone what impulses they should have and I just don’t know about it.
The duo then separated from the group and we slipped away on an escalator which took us down to the grocery store portion of Ao Shan.
This was probably more fun than any Chinese person could have possibly imagined for me! Something about seeing a place that looked exactly like Albertson’s or Smith’s that had almost NOTHING that I recognized on the shelves. The shelves were lined with soy sauces, oils, noodles as far as the eye could see down the aisle, and countless strange packages that resembled nothing that I was accustomed to. I did encounter some Pocky, Oreos, and Jell-O Pudding, all of course with some intriguing flavors. I bought some Oreos that were half mango and half orange, and some that were half raspberry and half blueberry in the center. I was thoroughly diverted. They had an amusing section of the home product section where they had a bin of hats that adequately represented the headgear of Beijing.
We then headed off, just me and Mari, to the Olympic Park which are probably the images you will recognize best besides the Great Wall and the Forbidden City (thanks to Mulan). As it was a park composed of concrete, there was not much to keep me there for long so it was a brief hello and goodbye moment.
The evening closed itself on the Beijing Acrobats, which had an audience built together out of school groups and the French, who are surprisingly the primary group of Caucasian looking folk. I was excessively delighted by the circus antics and wished for an increase in flexibility myself.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, was Day 7.