Sunday, September 14, 2008

Beijing Trip - Beijing Day 2

Since today was Sunday, we went to visit the Beijing International Christian Fellowship (BICF) this morning. They have a lot of different services in different languages but we went to the main service at 11:30am. We met up with some of the DreamArts people at the bus stop and took the bus to the service. The bus fare was RMB1 since I did not have a debit card. When I paid the fare collector (there's one at each door), she asked me where I was going. I pointed at the rest of our group and said, "I don't know... I'm with them."

Their service felt a bit like NewSong with a contemporary band and lots of A/V stuff. However, the congregation was a lot more mixed (age and ethnicity) and most of the people on stage were older. They have three locations in Beijing and we were at the largest site. I think this was the same international fellowship I attended 10 years ago when I in Beijing but the location is different and they've grown a bit. It is still restricted to ex-pats/foreigners only so we had to bring our passports (thought last time I just showed my CA driver's license).

Worship team. There were two keyboard players but no electric guitar. Also the lady on house left looked like she didn't want to be there and appeared not to be singing very much.

Woohoo, the bass player was an old Asian guy!

The auditorium was pretty large and it was mostly full. I heard the attendance was something like 2,000 people. Not sure if it was for just the one service or the entire morning.

Can't visit a church without checking out their sound board (Soundcraft)

After the service, we walked down the street to a "California-style" shopping center to meet up with some people and ended up having lunch in the food court. It was weird walking around the shopping center; it was newly built and we felt we were back in Irvine. The architectural style and layout was eerily similar to The Spectrum or the District back home.

We walked down Lucky Street on the way to lunch

Wait, where are we? Beijing or Irvine?

Starbucks and Coldstone... where is the Chinese food?

Southern California architecture and stores

The food court was new and had lots of food choices. You have to buy a debit card when you walk in and they refund you the balance when you leave. I ended up spending RMB20 on a plate of cashew chicken with rice and a can of soda.

Food court... very clean for China. Of course we were told no photos allowed.

OK, not everything was Irvine-like

After lunch, the group decided to take the subway and find some "authentic" Beijing areas to walk around. A few of us took the taxi to the nearest subway station (because of my bum leg) and waited for the rest to make the 15 minute walk.

Automated ticket machines. I ended up buying an electronic card (RMB20 deposit). Fares are RMB2 to any station except the Airport Express (RMB25).

Checking out the Paralympics while we were waiting

Even though it was a Sunday afternoon, the subway was packed with people. I hate to come back during workday rush hour, especially since the odd/even license restriction on cars is still in effect.

We took the subway to Qianmen (Front Gate) south of Tiananmen Square. I think the was the gate into Beijing when the city was still walled (Mao tore down the walls after the CCP came in power). We had to transfer subway lines twice and each time involved a lot of walking. We semi-dressed-up for church so most of us were in long pants. It was pretty hot and humid in the stations though the newer subway cars were air conditioned.

We're not in Irvine anymore. We walked for about 30 minutes down this lane to the antique/art dealer lane. My team member from CCCSB was almost mugged here 10 years ago during our teaching trip.


Taking a break. It was a lot of walking any my left leg has gone numb on me.


We took taxis (4 taxis since we had 13 people) to the north end of downtown to the back gate and a lake/park. There were people kicking a feathered thingy (kinda like a hacky sack). It didn't look easy but this old guy was crazy awesome. He was kicking it really hard with another guy and would rally forever.

We walked along the lake which was surrounded by upscale restaurants and bars. There were lots of foreign tourists and everything looked expensive. We walked to the other end of the lake and had dinner at a restaurant called nuage (Vietnamese). Since people at our table were not that hungry, we just ordered some drinks and appetizers. The food was pretty mediocre, portions were ridiculously small, and it still cost our group RMB800+. Not going back there again.

You can pay for boat rides on the lake. At one end of the lake, there was a narrow bridge. It seems that Chinese people drive boats like they drive cars. There was a huge jam and boats were bumping each other to get through since no one was yielding. Good thing there are not too many Chinese airline pilots.

Spring rolls and shrimp rolls. Tiny... and about US$1 each (each roll, not each dish)

Pineapple fried rice. There was enough for one spoonful each of us (six) at the table.

Our table was on the second floor. To get up there, you had to climb a set of rickety stairs. After walking all day, my leg and ankle were really sore. So after dinner, I took a long time walking down. There were a group of Americans at the bottom waiting for me to walk down. They make a comment in English about about me taking forever, most likely thinking that I was local. I wonder if they would have made the same comment back in the US. I thought it was pretty rude but I guess I do the same thing when I speak Mandarin to friends/family so other people around us can't understand.

1 comment:

closetmusician said...

oh man, you should've told me. the nuage place by houhai (back sea, or the lake you guys walked around) is in the most touristy/expensive part. well that whole place is pretty expensive. if you wanted some more local experience, you should've gone to the drum tower. are you still in bj or in chengdu now?

the new mall you guys went to is called 'solana', they are trying to build it up as an upscale/expat-ish place for shopping, although it's not been terribly successful. But because of that fortunately, it's nice to shop there and not endure the crowd.