Built during the Qing Dynasty, about 1777 as the private residence of Heshan who had an extremely rapid rise up the Civil Service ladder. He had acquired great wealth, as well as many enemies. When the Qing Emperor Qianlong (1736 – 1796) died his successor Jiaqing (1796-1820) had Heshan executed. The residence passed along to other hands and during the reign of Emperor Xianfeng (1851-1862) ownership was transferred to Prince Gong.
we were invited to be lead through the Castle by a fengshui scholar who was to
describe the design of the space as it followed fengshui principles. Alas, our fengshui scholar only spoke Chinese
and my understanding of his discussion was limited.
accompanied by three bilingual speakers, Chinese/English and none could really
supply me with a comprehensive translation, since the language was
described in the barest detail is that fengshui is the study of creating a
space which can take advantage, or even harness the natural forces, qi, of the universe.
we have is some lovely photos and a nice walk in the lovely gardens.
Stretch your body : Expand your mind. It is the tag. It is my mantra. Keep improving, physically and mentally.
First order on arrival in China are Chinese Lessons with Margaret at Mandarin Zone, her school near the Tuanjiehu station on line 10 in Beijing. It has been more than two years since my first lesson with her. Now about six years of study. What I do not have in intellect I compensate with stubbornness and determination. Can’t say it’s been an easy process, but fortunately people like Margaret and my first teacher Xin, have stuck with me.
Park Plaza Hotel it is two changes and about forty minutes to the school. Line 5 change to line 6 at Dongsi. Line 6 change to Line 10 at Huijialu. Exit at Tuenjiehu. Total cost is 3 yuan, or less than a half a
dollar, US. China has put a priority on
mass transportation. Clean trains, clean,
well-lit stations, trains running very often at an available price for
everyone. Doesn’t America have the will
to serve its people better?
at Exit B, always a critical piece of information in Beijing since there are
many exits and the choosing the correct one saves crossing large streets and
avoiding attack by Beijing’s crazy drivers.
building entrance is in the alley, not on the main street, and a bit
dingy. Two small elevators service a 17
storey building. At busy times, lines
form and it can be two or three elevator cycles before you can get on. At 9:30 most everyone is already at work, so
the line is short.
on the Second Book of the Beijing Language Institute Speak Chinese. My progress is slow since Margaret reminds me
I only have one lesson a week on SKYPE and do miss some. It is true.
My attention to Chinese when I am at home lags.
is wonderfully kind, accepting my progress, or lack, with poise. Always ready with positive comments. What is, is!
During lessons however, she tortures me.
Continual conversation and use of proper grammar. No error is left unmentioned. I work hard.
Start sentences and then get lost somewhere in the middle. Try grammar concepts. Struggle to get it all
straight. Feel happy I completed the
sentence and see her face. “Bu dong,”
she says. “I don’t understand, in
English, she says. Sometimes I try
again, sometimes I just give up. Then
she laughs and tells me to try again. At
the start of the lesson I usually try to tell her something that happened to
me. Work on my conversion skills. After a five minute struggle of confused
grammar she says, OK now tell me the whole story again. Then she giggles as she knows she is
torturing me. But, it does work.
have achieved a valuable plateau. Basic
sentences are ingrained. Vocabulary has
expanded. Grammar concepts are getting
sorted out. While not fluent, I have a functional
level of basic conversation.
good to see her. We speak nearly weekly
via SKYPE, still the personal experience is different. Being out and about in China also allows me
to test my skills with locals. While I
still do not hear and understand the local people, they understand me.
days, three hours a day in the morning.
All that I have available this trip, but she moved side some other
students to make time for me.
begin. We spend three days reviewing all
of the chapters of book two, 16 to 25 in tow and a half days. Then we begin the new stuff. Up to Chapter 28 and “ba” sentences, the last
grammar hurdle in this book. She tells
me that Book 3 focusses on conversation and all difficult grammar has been
confidence has improved and I am willing to speak to people, ask questions and
get directions. Yes, I am stopped by
many people who are curious about this white haired person. They wish to engage, practice their
English. I in turn practice my Chinese.
have a weakness for the children and always offer a “Hello.” I did learn from JoAnn, see an earlier post, “The
Power of Hello.” The parents always encourage
a response. Sometime we can engage more,
and others just say “Hello” or “Ni Hao.”
I do try to engage. Practice
conversation and improve my ear and my speaking.
early. Not going to duplicate
The flight is nearly full, the nearly, fortunately, was the seat adjacent to me.
I quickly realized the effect of the time of departure on my sleep habit on the long flight. Leaving at 6 AM or so from Boston requires early wake up. Sleeping aboard is easy. Leaving after midnight, as I did recently to Hong Kong is a natural time to sleep. At 10 AM departure, I am well rested and alert and not disposed to nap. Well, lots of reading.
Flight time from LA, Dallas Fort Worth, Boston or New York to Beijing are virtually the same time. The flight to a stop across the US, via American is wasted travel time, but the network of carriers with American and United offer better pricing for multi-stop travel and this time I am planning to return through Hong Kong. Although Hainan offers a non-stop between Boston and Beijing, returning from Hong Kong prices this out of reason.
AA flight 181 is on a Boeing
787-900 Dreamliner. This plane seems to
me a bit more upscale than yesterday’s Airbus.
It is serial number 40653, registration number N834AA and was delivered
to American Feb 2018. It was two years
newer than the Airbus of the earlier flight, but a light year ahead in comfort
and appointments. It said it was manufactured in the Charleston
SC factory, which I have recently read has had quality issues. Fortunately, we landed safely so I cannot
A long but uneventful flight. Arrived in Beijing on time. Fast through immigration. No fingerprints requested of me. Not sure if because I have been through
Driver met me at the exit, no problem. Dropped me at the hotel, Park Plaza in Wangfujing. A convenient area. Went for a walk to buy a SIM card and then get some funds at the bank. Purchased 5 gigabytes and 50 minutes of time for about $80 USD. We’ll see if this was a wise purchase?
Found a Food Street and indulged. Not sure, probably octopus tentacles. Two barbecue sticks for 50 yuan. Covered with sauce. Not really high quality, but fast, interesting and cheap. Bought 5 gigabytes and 50 minutes of phone time for $80 USD. We’ll see if there was value in this purchase?
Found a Food Street and
indulged. Not sure, probably octopus
tentacles. Two barbecue sticks for 50
yuan. Covered with sauce. Not really high quality, but fast, interesting