Eating Snake, Summer Palaces, Independence Day Beijing Style

Crystal Mak
July 11, 2016
Boating at the Summer Palace

The time spent here is rapidly slipping through my hands and sadly we just passed the halfway mark here in Beijing.  So much has happened from celebrating birthdays to going on class field trips that it’s been difficult to keep track of it all!

Night Market Shenanigans

So I ate a snake, and surprisingly it was pretty good.  It came in a cross between a fish and eel with a chewy texture that was oddly satisfying.  I’m not really sure how I convinced myself to eat that, and I feel like that was probably one of the craziest things I have ever eaten in my life.  Other than the snake, the night market at Wangfujing was filled with some classic tasty snacks like dumplings, fruit, and noodles, and it was also stocked with some unconventional snacks like starfish, spiders, scorpions, squid, bug larvae, and you guessed it, dog meat!  While part of me wants to be understanding of China’s culture for selling these unusual foods, the other part of me kept on asking “Why would people ever in their right mind feel the need to eat a scorpion if it could kill you?”  I suppose that’s the magic of being a tourist destination.  People are more willing sell unconventional things and tourists are more willing to try, and I totally bought into it.

Visiting the Old and New Summer Palace

Both of these places were incredibly beautiful amidst the concrete city.  We went to both parks with our history professor Jeremiah and learned that the first one was burned to the ground.  Despite that, the parks were both so lush and green.


Salon Day

I’d never really cared to pay for beauty services back in the states mainly because I felt that I could just cut my own hair and paint my own nails.  However, I found a growing trend of Asian people getting eyelash extensions.  Some of my Chinese friends have their eyelashes done too, and since I always wanted to have longer, fuller lashes and the prices in China were significantly cheaper, I convinced myself to try out this curious Asian beauty trend.  It’s a very cool beauty trick, but I have to admit that I’m still not used to it!

What is it: The process is relatively simple.  You first choose how many lashes you want on each eye and then you choose the length.  Then they have you lie on your back and place some special tape over your lower lashes to separate the bottom lashes from the top.  The specialist then picks up an individual false lash, dips it into special black adhesive, and glues the lash onto each of my individual eyelashes.  The process in total took about an hour and lasts for about a month.

Feeling love from home when you're far away

Before I flew over to Beijing, I was nervous that I would have trouble finding people to confide in, but as I told more individuals about my summer plans, more referred me to people they knew and some even told me that they were going there to visit.  Even though China is on the other side of the world, my connection as a Chinese person revealed that I can’t really be too far from loved ones at home. 

I had the opportunity to meet with my family friends one day and the mom introduced me to her favorite spots as a child growing up in Beijing and we ate some hot pot at Xidan.  I also had a chance to meet with one of my mom’s good friends in Beijing for lunch.  Although I didn’t know her that well, we had a great conversation and she took great care of me.  The combination of poor Internet connection, time difference and sometimes my lack of enthusiasm to connect back home makes it difficult to keep in contact with people at home.  However, I’m really thankful for these opportunities to meet with people and it really made me feel at home again.

Independence Day Beijing Style

IES Abroad took us to an outdoor waterpark in Sanlitun to celebrate the anniversary of our nation’s day of independence.  It was a pretty comical experience since there were families with young children, and there was us college-aged Americans.  As we blasted a 4th of July playlist and sang along, everyone around us stared.  We finished off our quaint celebration by hanging up an American flag bandana in our kitchen and cooking up some hot dogs for dinner.  Unfortunately, we had to end the celebration early to study for the next day.

Crystal Mak

<p>I'm a senior studying Media and Communications &amp; Chinese at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. I enjoy traveling, hiking, and delicious food. I am so excited to share all my new experiences in China with you all! Join me as I journey to find the tastiest dumplings, peking duck and noodles that Beijing has to offer while I balance my studies.</p>

2016 Summer 1, 2016 Summer 2
Home University:
University of Maryland+ Baltimore County
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