Monday, June 29, 2009

Week 4

After a month in China, even though the novelty of being in Beijing has not wear off, I was starting to get a little home sick. I sort of miss not having to bring toilet paper with me at all times (i.e. not every restrooms have toilet papers), as well as not having to eat Chinese food every day, even though I love Chinese food.

In Beijing, there are western food chains such as Outback Steakhouse, TGI Fridays, McDonalds, and KFC, but I have to say that I was super excited to discover an area called The Village, which is located near an area equivalent to D.C.’s embassy row. The Village is essentially a giant shopping area that reminds me of the U.S. that consists of stores like North Face, Nike, and Puma, and Italian and Mexican restaurants…etc. Thus, The Village is frequent by lots of “foreigners”, and I increasingly find myself there when I miss the States.

This week’s field trip was to the rural area of Beijing. As we drove further away from the city, plantation of agricultural crops begins to replace modern commercial and residential high rises. The stark contrast between the city and the rural areas of Beijing was obvious.

First of all, the air was generally cleaner and there were less traffic on the road. Secondly, the city folks live in high rise apartment complexes with access to basic amenities similar to what we have in the U.S. and guards at their front gates, where as the farmers live in traditional Chinese style houses (generally called “Si he yuan). These are compounds featuring thick roofs and walls with a wide courtyard, no western styled toilets, but just hole in the ground type bathrooms. Lastly, the disparities in income and education level between the city folks and the farmers were evident based on the differences in their living conditions and mannerism.

Overall, I think the field trip was very educational and relaxing as we were able to witness the differences between the new (city) and old (rural) Beijing.

- Jenny Lin

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