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Scrubs in Beijing Fourth year medical student from Houston, traveling to Beijing to study Chinese medicine and Chinese beer

Saturday: Aggie Muster

CHINA | Saturday, 19 April 2008 | Views [1492]

Saturday morning, we intended to leave very early, but we didn't quite make it. Arising by 7:45, we decided to eat group (ie, free) breakfast before leaving. Now, our breakfasts consist of fried eggs, white bread, jam, coffee, and hot milk. I've been supplying my own wheat bread instead of white, and insisting on two fried eggs, because the first couple of days I was really hungry afterward. It's getting better. I also brought some bananas (leftover from the Massive Banana Lifting at Friendship Hospital on Wednesday) in the hopes that people would share them, as they are now quite ripe (but delicious).

Finally, we were ready to head to Panjiayuan, or the weekend antique market. We caught a cab and soon arrived at a gate through a bare grey wall with tons of people and pushcarts around. We fought our way inside to find basically a massive flea market. Vendors had small stalls, cube/cage like spaces, or spots on the ground from which to hawk their wares. We looked at artwork, cheap jewelry, some not-so-cheap jewelry, furniture, rugs, porcelain plates, cloisonne Christmas decorations, and the fun part: the junk. My friend almost bought a broken piccolo, but unfortunately the vendor wanted $100 American for it. We argued and argued that it was broken, and had no case, but he stuck firm, so we did not buy the piccolo. I did play taps on his tiny cornet (which was in much better shape than the piccolo--I didn't dare ask the price). We saw empty clips for machine guns (possibly AK-47), bullets, canteens, bugles, and other army paraphernalia. Anything truly antique has either been bought or destroyed long ago in China, so most of what was there was junk. Still, it was fun to look.

Afterward, we walked east on Panjiayuan to the Third Ring Road, turned north for half a block, and came to a mecca of optometrist and eyeglasses shops. My friend bought a pair of prescription sunglasses for 280 RMB, and I had a spare pair of eyeglasses made (by taking the prescription off my current glasses) for 160 RMB, or around $22 American. Our glasses were done within 45 minutes and we came home just in time for lunch.

After lunch at the dorm, we met up with another friend and did some frenzied shopping. First to Liulichang Xiejie, a small street/hutong with antique shops, artwork, and tea shops. I had my beautiful silk paintings mounted on silk paper for the journey home. Then, we caught the subway to Hongxiao Pearl Market, where I bought "Brain Age" for my Nintendo DS, pearl necklaces for our teacher's female relatives (he'd asked me to do this--he doesn't like shopping), and pearl earrings for me. Thank God I think I'm done buying pashminas--I've acquired 5 on this trip and have 2 at home. Then I took a cab home in order to shower before Muster, while the other ladies went to Silk Street to exchange some jeans.

We all met up at 6 and went with a group of 9 to Tim's Texas Barbecue in the Jianguomen Embassy District. Apparently, Texas Tim went to A&M, and then came to Beijing and opened a bbq restaurant. We were greeted at the door by a Chinese man wearing a shirt colored like a Texas flag, saying "Howdy, podner" in the most hilarious accent. I almost fell over laughing. Up the stairs and 100 RMB later, I had a large stein of Tsingtao beer in hand and was doing the old Aggie meet and greet. Most of the people there were living and working in Beijing, some in oil, some in business, others teaching English. We had a delicious barbecue dinner, complete with brisket, barbecued chicken, pork ribs, beans, cole slaw, and potato salad (made with mustard like my mother's). It was unbelievably delicious. It was a very nice reminder of home. The room we were in was decorated with Texas memorabilia and Aggie flags, as well as a Twelfth Man jersey on the wall.

Eventually the Muster began. We stood and sang the Aggie War Hymn (badly, as many of us had forgotten a few words), then listened to some poems about Muster, and had a roll call for the dead. Only one name was on the official Beijing list, so I added my grandfather's to the list. Even though he died two years ago, I'd been unable to attend his Muster, so I figured I'd make up for it here in Beijing. No one minded. Then, we concluded with another poem and singing "The Spirit of Aggieland", took group photos, drank a bunch of beer (and margaritas for some), and hung out. Some of the group went on to Sanlitun to go salsa dancing, but I headed back with 4 others toward the dorm. I was able to Skype for a little bit with my husband (although not in a good fashion, as my headset microphone is not working, so he talks and I type on IM). All in all, a good and successful day. I have big plans for tomorrow: Drum and Bell Towers, Yonghedong Lama Temple, and maybe some hutong walking.

Tags: aggie muster, pearl market, shopping, third week

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