Wednesday, July 9, 2008


I am currently avoiding studying for my mid-term, so I thought maybe I should write something. Especially since tomorrow evening CET is taking us to Xi'an (西安), home of these guys:

Terracotta Army

Also, tonight my roommate, Liang Ke (良科) made a soup with 3 things I had never eaten/heard of before. It was sweet and very good. It was made with:

Longan -


Snow fungus

These pictures are not mine, so they don't connect to my Flickr. The snow fungus was my favorite part. It has a great texture. The jujube was very similar to a date, and reminded me that Ramadan is coming soon! The longan was also good. All in all, I liked learning about the food just as much as eating it! I wonder if the ingredients are readily available in the US? Ok, now I really gotta study. Wish me luck! Check back soon for Xi'an pics!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Artsy fartsy

Yesterday CET took us to an emerging artist community in Caochangdi (草场地). We started off in the The Three Shadows Photagraphy Art Centre (三影堂摄影艺术中心)Our tour guide described it as a centre "by artists for artists" and said that it differs in this way from the more well known and nearby artist community of 798, which she describes as becoming more commercial as of late. I was afraid to take pictures of any of their exhibits, because their space is essentially a non-profit and as I think that the work the are doing there is really inspiring as well as important, I thought it best to let people go and experience it themselves. Here is a link to their web site (mostly in Chinese):

Here is a direct link the current exibit showing there, "Moving Rainbow" (流动的彩虹):

Here are some images of the property and its unique building designed (inspired by Ai Wei Wei's belly) as well as their library, which along with all their deveolpic and computer editing/design equipment is open daily to the public. Their library offers what I'm told is the largest collection of photography books in China, as well as a super modern state of the art digital photography lab and traditional darkroom. They even give classes on how to use both! As always you can click on any of these pictures to be directed to the rest of my photos on my Flickr page,




After a tour of their property we went on to walk around the rest of the village. It has an interesting contrast of modern (and often expensive) art galleries strewn among decades old stores and restaurants that cater to the people who live their (mostly taxi drivers, as noted by the dozens of them parked around the town as their operaters enjoy some well earned time off)


We had lunch at a delicious Szechuan (四川) style restaurant。 My roommate, Liang Ke (良科) is from there, so he ordered everything, and it was outstanding. The best part was 9 people ate for like 108 kuai, which is about $14.50. After lunch people were getting restless and wanted to also see 798, so we left sooner than I'd have liked. If you look at my pictures, they are posted in reverse chronological order so the 798 photos are earlier, and everything after this:
is Three Shadows and the surrounding neighborhood. 798 was also beautiful, but it had way more tourists (earlier we were the only ones) and also a strong Disney-like atmosphere, since everything was so new and expensive. I think both places are very exciting, however, and would love to go back.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Week 3

Okay so, we went to the Great Wall(长城)at Mutianyu (慕田峪). It was pretty awesome. I am going to attempt to put some of the pictures on here:
Great Wall 080
No, that is not a backdrop. I was actually there. Unfortunately it was quite cloudy and we were on a mountain (several mountains I beleive).

Also, the previous weekend I went to a part of Beijing called Hou Hai (后海). It is touristy, but really pretty:

If you want to see more of my picture you can click on those and snoop around my flickr.

This weekend we are going to a bohemian artsy time area whose name I can't remember. I'll write mroe about it later. Also I finish my text book this week which means I will no longer be in the 150 level class, but the 200. This also means I have a mid-term next Thursday. I can't even imagine where to begin studying for it. Wish me luck!

Friday, June 20, 2008

After my first test.

Ok so, I realize this blog sucks. I really do not have a lot of free time, because I have to learn between 40 and 60 new Chinese characters a day. I am going to try to put up some of my photos as soon as I figure out how to. So far what I've learned about China is:

The food is awesome.

Everything is really cheap.

The bathrooms are kind of gross (more on this later)

The people are extremely nice.

Chinese is hard.

I wish I had brought a spare pair of shoes, because my sneakers got wet and it took me a while to get them dry. I am still to afraid to go anywhere by myself, because my Chinese is not that good, and I have no idea where I am. I tried to go wander around the city today, but I forgot where the metro was, so I just went to a store I had already been to, and then walked home. I firmly resolve to see new and interesting things this weekend.
Last week during our orientation we were privileged enough to have performers come to BIE (Beijing Institute of Education. where CET is hosted in Beijing) and perform traditional Beijing street performances. they were all very interesting:
This guy played something like a Chinese version of castanets. He spoke/sang very quickly at the same time.
This man made small sculptures out of dough (yes, like play-doh but much cooler) Pictured here is one of the mascots for the Olympics which will be here this summer.
This woman performed magic tricks completely silently. They were low tech but I still don't know how she did them.
This guy was so chill. he sat at the other end of the room and painted kites that look like this:
By hand people! Amazing!
This girl was doing amazing feats on that yo-yo you see. I don't know if it has a special name, but it was very exciting to watch.
Ok so all the performers were pretty amazing, but this guy I think was the most popular, just because none of us had ever seen anything like it. He takes sugar and melts it into caramel and then blows it up with air and paints it to create beautiful animals. Beautiful EDIBLE animals (I know, they're so pretty why eat them, but they are made of sugar and melt, so its better not to waste it) Did I mention he does this in a matter of seconds. Here you can see the finished product:
Amazing, right?? if you want to see more of the stuff he or any of the performers did you can just click on one of the pictures and browse through my Beijing set.

All and all it was an amazing night, and each one of the performers made an effort to include us in their craft. Even with the language barrier we all learned a lot. And there was free food. Need I say more? Also if anybody wants to give me new adjectives so I can stop saying "amazing!", feel free.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Day 1ish

So this is my first post, and it should be longer but I am in kind of a hurry. My name, for those of you who don't know, is Matt. I am a graduating senior at the Univeristy of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB for those who know). Go Blazers! I am currently studying with Boston University and CET Academic Programs this summer in Beijing, China. I flew out of Boston on Tuesday, June 10th and arrived in Beijing on Wednesday, June 11th. I had to change planes in Chicago, and we were delayed there for like 90 minutes because "a pump was pumping when it should be off". I fully intend to write more later, perhaps I can come back and add to this entry, I am not much of a blgger so I'm not sure.