Got back late last night from my trip with 我的男朋友 Masa. Amazing trip. We saw near abandoned villages, hiked around mountains, drew under peach trees, ate good (but basic) food, used hideous hole-in-the-ground country bathrooms, didn't shower and basically lived outdoors for four days. Wow. Back to Beijing reality...

Random village view from the bus.

爨底下(Cuandixia village)

Temple at 爨底下.

The owner of this home made a delicious stew with frozen tofu. She had one of the cleanest kitchens I've seen in China.

Brushing my teeth outside of my landlord's home. (She's on the right.) The owners of the house next door raise bees, so they were constantly buzzing around this area. (I bought very inexpensive honey.)

Home at 白玉 (Baiyu)

Abandoned home at 白玉. This room had some cultural revolution memorabilia on the dressers. Everything was dusty and untouched.


Peach blossoms in the mountains.

This woman, like many local villagers, has opened her home to tourists and provides a place to sleep for 10RMB a night (around $1.40)

Dinner at a home restaurant in 爨底下. Mantou, corn cakes, Cucumbers with vinegar and sesame oil, spicy donkey with peppers and whole little fish. (which were sweet and salty)

Very curious boy. He ran around with my camera taking pictures.

Mother of our landlord with her grandson.

Mountain lake by 珍珠湖. Masa and I found an abandoned paddleboat.

金鑫 (Masa) wading in a river.

Mountain view near 珍珠湖.

Train to 西直门, a subway stop in Beijing. Everyone else boarding this train were fishermen.


learning guitar

Dinner at Ruby's

warm feet

hutong nap

Today is the warmest it has been yet in Beijing; 83F. The sun is as bright as it is in Miami during summer, and everyone is out in short sleeve shirts and the Korean girls are in hotpants. It's literally 10 degrees hotter today than it was yesterday.

Tomorrow I'm finally leaving the city for a few days with my friend Masa, so no e-mail or posts until Monday. We're going to a small village built entirely by one family in the Ming dynasty called Cuandixia (爨底下) then some mountains, pretty things... Pictures will follow.

I've got proofreading work today. I have to check some exhibition notes for a show on Chinese shadow puppets that will be up during the Olympics.

Also: Thanks Isa! I got your package yesterday complete with coffee paraphernalia and apple butter.


I'm sitting on Silvia's bed grading papers thinking about getting ready to meet a potential student for lunch. It's a bright day today with lots of various allergens dancing in the air. Yesterday I bought a very tiny azalea with small, bright pink flowers... it's nice to really be able to feel the seasons. (This is fairly literal, since my chest is congested and I'm allergic to nearly everything outside, I think.)

A few nights ago Masa and I saw the movie 东 ("Dong") by贾樟柯 (Jia Zhang Ke) at the Italian Embassy and also sat through messy translations of the director's responses to questions from the audience. Zhang Ke is possibly the most acclaimed mainland director among a more arthouse crowd, and has made movies such as "Xiao Wu," "The World" and "Unknown Pleasures." 东 follows the travels of an artist, 刘小东 (Liu Xiao Dong) as he paints migrant workers and prostitutes while he tries to defend the idea of the artist understanding "common people." Dong seems to trap himself in this classic, stereotypical artist dilemma: an attempt to understand which eventually leads to self-delusion. Worth seeing.
Beijing is literally blanketed in pollen. (Video from Silvia)


Toby making comics

Toby's battery-powered fan



My apartment building

Saw traditional Mongolian music Sunday night at 愚公移山 (Yu Gong Yi Shan) that was quite incredible. I've never heard throat singing in person before, and it literally sounded like this guy's voice was bouncing off of every corner of the room, complete with flute-like voice inflections, melody and complexities that I couldn't imagine coming from a single voice. I really want to go to Mongolia. Also heard some very tender, rather melodic indie-folk from this musician Ramona Cordova.

I'm planning a trip with Silvia and two friends and we'll leave in a week or two. Just a weekend trip, but I'd like to go to some secluded mountain village with some abandoned temples scattered about.


Thank you mom, dad, Billie, Grandma and Aunt Linda for all your incredibly sweet cards, letters and gifts. It makes me feel very loved. Also, thanks for the posts and e-mails!



Exhaustive portrait painting at 798

Kites in 地坛公园

rose, maple and pear on my balcony


I had a great weekend; we've been spending a lot of time with this group of friends. We flew kites in 地坛公园 (Ditan park), saw a Chinese rock band at a smoky club, ate at several restaurants, watched a Spanish movie on our avocado green couch...

Tomorrow I'm meeting with a friend who I might hire to tutor me a few days a week. He speaks perfect English, which helps, and will hopefully boost my 普通话.

Pictures will follow. It's bedtime for me.



This is my new class and my first non-tutoring job. I'll be working with these kids for an hour and twenty minutes every Thursday. I'm Mr. Ross, sometimes teacher, sometimes 老师。。。


stunt bike

Silvy and 妈妈

Lix and Ruby and yummy noodles

Some pictures from a couple nights ago...

Went to a temporary local market yesterday, which is large and is sort of like a cheaper dollar store, like a 25 cent store.

I've been drinking a lot of tea and buy it from this same lady who has a booth in the Agricultural school near the Dazhongsi subway station. She has incredible pu'er, which is aged, fermented tea, usually at least 20 years old. She sold me the best oolong I've ever had, with a taste and smell that is impossible to describe. She also has pictures of her family and farm in Yunnan and is as tall I am! (really)

I start teaching a high school class later today, and I'm terribly nervous about it. It's a large class too, over 40 students...

Off to teach Michael. Lately, we've just been talking about his baby and this book he wants to write about pursuing happiness. Entertaing guy.


Off to tutor Michael, but wanted to make a quick post... Last night Silvia and I met up with friends at this unicycle, juggling, Chinese toy event put together by this Italian guy. A couple of them just bring a bunch of equipment, and you can try anything you'd like. You basically play around, although I stuck to this Chinese top that moves very fast and whistles extremely loud.

Not so busy the last few days. I might start a Chinese class today; Silvia signed up and had her first class yesterday and like it. Pronounciation drills, over and over again, which is really what I need.


Yesterday I was very busy; two classes and then an interview at a far off subway stop. Toby (my 10 year old) was very bored, mostly because his book is far too easy for him, so we watched a DVD of his trip to Hong Kong Disney and just talked for the last half hour. He showed me his pet hermit crab also, and his mom drove me home since I had to cab there to avoid being late. It feels great to tutor, especially at someone's house, because Chinese can be so accommodating and friendly.

I got another job; two classes every Thursday at a high school. The class is nearly 50 students, so who knows how I'll do it... Exciting and nerve wracking. It'll be the first time actually teaching a class...

Saturday night, Silvia and I met up with a bunch of Chinese (and one Korean) Silvia had met and basically drank and played foozeball and played outside with traditional Chinese toys that they'd bought at a temple. Fun!