The Beaver Radio Network

Kunlun Hockey Journey: Stephanie Anderson’s Blog Post #3

Today has been the nicest day since we have been in Beijing. It’s Sunday the 17th, there was minimal smog, clear blue sky, and HOT! It was close to 92 degrees today. This is where it gets weird. While your reading how hot I just said it was, I’m sure your picturing yourself at a lake somewhere soaking in all the sun possible. Well, not in Beijing. I’m not referring to the fact that there are minimal lakes around here; I’m talking about the Chinese culture and how they deal with the heat. It will be 92 degrees outside and you see most everyone in long sleeve shirts and pants. Even the women wear as much clothing as possible. It is a bizarre image to see everyone dressed so warm when its so hot out, but they don’t like the heat and being hot. So if you can imagine a group of 5 American girls walking around outside in tank tops and shorts with sandals, you can guess the kind of looks we get from people. When I think about it, I’m sure we look just as weird to them as they do to us just from the way we dress on a hot day. Culture shock 101.

My bike riding skills have really been brought up to speed since being here. There are bikes everywhere!!! There are mobile apps which allow you to unlock and rent a bike to get anywhere you need to go, once your there you simply lock it back up and continue on with your day. I would say I rent a bike once a day, and feeling more confident each time. Although, getting on a bike sometimes is scary, just knowing I have to cross a busy intersection scares me. Pedestrians do not have the right of way here. You need to watch for cars and buses turning and they will not stop. We see so many accidents everyday because people don’t slow down to get out of the way for others. So it’s always a gamble crossing the street and I at least scream 2 times before making it!

As I’m sitting here writing this, we got a message that tomorrow we will be moving to another rink for the next week. There are still many things that need fixing. We are still finding out the best option as far as skating goes out in Beijing. Like I’ve said before, this program is new and with 2 teams and a full staff, there are many moving parts to get 60+ people in an area in Beijing where we can train and skate at a great facility. So tomorrow we are going to another rink to be there for 4 days. This is also a huge week coming up because next Sunday we leave for Vancouver, which means North American Soil. I have a feeling most girls will be in a better mood as this week goes on.

During the week, we don’t have a whole lot of time to go out and do much because we are at the rink for 6 hours and by the time we get back to the hotel, we’re just so exhausted to go out and explore. When the weekend hits and Friday rolls around, we get to play our scrimmage Friday morning and then we get weekends off. This is where the stories come from, this is when the culture shock hits. On the weekend you try new food, you go to new places, you meet people from all over the world and you see things that make you stop and stare a little. On Saturday a few girls and myself went to a place called Silk Street Mall. This was a place where you go and bargain on clothing or anything else you’re interested in getting. We spent 5 hours walking through this 7-floor mall. I got some pretty cool new things, like a GoPro, new headphones and a few pairs of shoes. This day was relatively normal, until we tried to get home. We stood outside on the street for 40 minutes trying to wave down a taxi, but they usually don’t stop for Americans unless you’re really aggressive about them giving you a ride, maybe its because they cant speak English so it would be difficult to communicate with us? Not too sure but we gave up on trying to get a taxi and opted for the subway station. Out of the 4 of us, no one had been on the subway in Beijing yet, which seemed like a fantastic idea. So here we go. First trying to figure out where we were, and where we needed to go to end up near our hotel. I think we stood looking at this map for 15 minutes before I took a few steps back and yelled “does anyone speak English?” Sure enough this lady stopped and helped us figure it out. We got our tickets and felt confident going down to get on the train; until it pulled up. My mouth dropped and I was in awe of what I was looking at. The train was so full that everyone was packed in there like little sardines, no one could move and I looked at the girls and said “nope, absolutely not” so we waited for the next train and got onto one that looked less crowded. A couple stops went by and we made it to ours, or so we thought. Once we were outside, we noticed how far away from the hotel we were and needed to rent bikes to get back. On the ride back one of the bikes breaks. Go figure, could anything go smooth tonight? Her pedals weren’t turning so here she is holding on to a strap from my backpack and I had to pull her all the way back. So many laughs on this trip and lessons about the subway station, I definitely want to try it again.

Back to the nicest day since being here… its Sunday, two friends and myself went to HouHai Back Lakes. It is more of a tourist spot but we enjoyed it to the fullest extent. While we were walking through town on our way to the water, we heard someone say, “Do you speak English?” which was music to our ears. Her name was Loois and she was from Perth, Australia. She needed help finding the lake so we invited her to walk with us and she was just visiting Beijing for a week on Vacation. Such a nice lady and loved talking about hockey. I enjoy meeting people from all over. Hearing a little about their story and what brings them here. We got her to the water and after a quick picture we said goodbye. First thing we did was rent a boat. It was battery operated and you pay hourly, not the fastest of boats but it was a nice stroll to ride around and look at everything. Until the boat stopped working and we were stranded. We didn’t quite know what to do and I didn’t know how to say, “help” in Chinese. But I do know how to say “hello” which is Ni Hao. So if you can imagine, a blonde tall American standing at the front of a boat waving her arms carelessly in the air yelling Ni Hao, you can see why I was so embarrassed. I ended up getting the attention of a worker from the boat rental and he came out to help us. The funniest part was looking at people on shore or in other boats staring at me as I’m yelling for help. No one felt the need to help, staring was enough for them apparently. We walked around and enjoyed the area for a while, until my heart broke a little. We came across a stray puppy laying on the sidewalk and I tried to give it water, thinking the pup would really appreciate a little H2O it looked at me, got up, and walked about 5 feet to the right and laid down facing away from me. Well excuse me for wanting to help you, so my pride was broke for a little bit. The pup was really cute but I failed miserably.

For dinner we went to a place called Fella’s. It was more of an American restaurant, and speaking of American we met 4 people there. They were all from California and one had a home near Minneapolis. It is just crazy to me to run into people half way across the world and someone knows where North St. Paul, Minnesota is. They offered us to join their slow pitch softball league but that wouldn’t be a good idea during hockey. We learned they were over here teaching at an international school, which is amazing.

Until next time, good luck to Bemidji girls on their game against Korean National Team this week!

~ Steph

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