Good weekend: Saturday Anna, Ariel and I went walking around the 鼓楼 (gulou, the ancient bell and drum towers of Beijing) and found a great, tiny coffeeshop with good prices, coconut cake and comfy couches among all the royal ruins and heavy traffic. I also made lunch at home and splurged on a bottle of wine from my favorite new slightly less overpriced foreign market, 'Ole, with it's unfortunate name.
Yesterday Ariel and I woke up early and went out to 苹果园 （pingguoyuan, literally "Apple Park" in Chinese) which is the very last stop far west of the city. After standing for quite some time on a packed train, then transferring at the last station, we ended up at a bend on a hill. To our right was our intended destination, 法海寺, （fahai temple) a 15th century temple known for it's detailed interior painting. The painting is in good, original condition and is therefore protected by having the windows shuttered. There is no light at all inside and you are given a flashlight upon entrance. Paintings of buddhas riding on golden elephants, erhats circling ahead on wild clouds... unfortunately we saw none of these as it was closed and under repair, possibly for another year or so, with no clear date of reopening posted. Regardless, we found a small antique shop in a quaint village and got a few great little things for the house at a small fraction of what they'd charge outside of the boondocks.
I'm starting to use a Cambridge edition book to teach a business English class on Thursday nights. It's stuffy and boring, but only one night a week. Not only that, but I need to understand and eventually teach our phonetic pronounciation system in English which I, honestly, don't know how to read. Lowercase "a"s and "e"s back to back with curly cues on the sides... Don't get it.
Silvia updates: Silvy got a new, adorable lil' apartment by 积水潭 (jishuitan) that is 15 minutes away from my place, super cute, cozy, large balcony and a great view. She has a wonderful, very Chinese neighborhood with small shops selling typically Chinese medicine, steamed dumplings, pillows, corner shelves, possibly bootleg cleaning products, DVDs, meat-on-a-stick, etc. etc.