Beijing 2, San Diego
September 23 - Beijing
I split ways with my family who had a different itinerary than I did. I took another train back to Beijing. This was at the brand new station that we saw displayed at the World Expo exhibiting the new train system in china.
I stayed with my host family that I stayed with in the summer of 2002. A lot has changed in 8 years. They still live in the same apartment, but almost everything is renovated. I didn't have to turn on/off the hot water anymore. They had wireless Internet too.
For most of the time, I hung out with my host brother Alan who had other friends visiting too. We went to a small lake that's a fraction of the size of Lake Hefner, but has shops and bars all around it. We rented bikes and rode around for an hour. You know how they say things are like riding a bike? Well I didn't fall, per se, but I definitely remember it being a lot easier in my childhood.
Alan also took us to the biggest arts district. This community took over an abandoned microchip factory and occupied the buildings around it too. It's a few times bigger than the Paseo in Oklahoma. This is very modern art as well. The kind of art you would expect to find in New York, not communist China. (As a side note, the communist influence isn't very obvious. The only time I noticed it was when I tried to connect to Facebook or YouTube which are banned. It's just stupid politics that I'm sure many Chinese people could care less about. I hate politics.)
That evening we went back to the lake to hang out at one of the many bars. This place is vastly different at nighttime. I won't get into details, but we were offered "services". Alan knew the owners of a bar that's very classy compared to the rest, and we just relaxed and had some drinks. I had a piña colada. It was really just chilled piña colada mix.
The next morning I left to go back to see my sister's family. We ate, hung out, and went to a Cubs/Padres game. Nice topper to another great trip.