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Dre J.’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 18 Oct 2009

Location: Beijing

MapNi Hao. So my field trip was cool. it was to hohai which i've told you all about before. its really pretty and stuff. We got to see some of the traditional buildings that have been around for 200+ years. the highlight was that we got to go into a traditional chinese courtyard house. it was really pretty, like you see in all the movies. these houses are very expensive and are limited. actually you can't buy one, the gov owns them, but you can buy a permit to live there, were you then pay rent. this one in particular was given by the state to a member of the military. there is a picture of him and his wife under this shrine to Mao in their house. he is really old and actually is a survivor of the long march with mao zedong. quick history bit, during WWII china was invaded by the japanese, but were also in the mists of a civil war. you had the nationalist who were in charge fighting the communists. well the communists were getting their asses kicked until mao took over command. but in order to avoid complete annihilation he lead his troops on whats called the long march. it took them over two years from southern china to the north, through the Himalayas and in winter. they started with like 80,000 and arrived with like 5 or 6,000. something crazy like that. the numbers might not be quite right but the difference was still the same. so to be in this guys house who survived this march was insane. colin and i then went to look of this outdoor shop that might rent equipment for our trip coming up. actually i don't think i've mentioned it before. we have a week coming up where we can do independent travel. colin and i were thinking about going backpacking through the chinese mountains and woods. but this place doesn't rent equipment so we now have to rethink our plan. i'll keep ya all updated on what we decide to do.
today was my first waterpolo practice!!!! it was intense. i knew it was a physical sport but it is a really physical sport. much more then i had anticipated. colin got a bloody nose lol. he had to sit out of most the practice. from all the treading water and stuff my knee (right knee) popped a few times and is pretty sore right now. its actually not as tiring as one might think (but then again we didn't do toooo much swimming), but your legs get real tired, because if your not swimming your treading water. and when your treading water you have to try and keep your hands out of the water so that you can catch and throw the ball. and when you catch and throw the ball you want to have basically our entire upper body out of the water. so you are treading water while trying to push, and keep your body out of the water. intense. my legs were not ready for it. i mean its only been 2 and a half months since i had surgery on both knees. and besides running and doing laps my knees haven't been put to the test like they were today. but the good news to those of you who are shaking your heads right now going "don't be stupid andre, stop going if its going to hurt your knees" or something like that is that there is a more efficient way to tread in waterpolo then what i am doing and those ways don't require you to move in a sideways motion which is how i popped my knee. but this should be really fun. i'm looking forward to going again and learning more and getting better. i think i could be really good. the other kool part, which i was half looking forward to, was meeting new peeps, especially foreigners. some of you may be thinking, "but andre, why would you want to meet foreigners? shouldn't you want to meet chinese people." well yes i do want to meet chinese people, but foreigners have the connections i will want if i am going to come back and work here. i also was hoping to find some new friends my age. and i found both there. most of the team were older people, professionals from around the world who live and work in beijing. most of them are very successful. i also met some cool college students who go to my university, or live right around my university. actually colin and i went out to eat with a few of them after practice today. one is from england, one from australia, and one from the states. pretty cool. i'm wiped out now tho. again, my conditioning wasn't the factor, it was the strength of my legs, do directly to my surgeries and lack of muscle build due to the injuries. but colin and i are going to ramp up our leg work outs from now on so that we can get these bad boys in shape.
well thats about it. i gatta get some work done. i'll post a few pics for you all of my trip. this week i have another field trip for sociology, a test on friday for language and my econ mid-term. so big week for school.