Monday, April 27, 2015

Orange in Beijing

Today the Netherlands celebrates its Kingsday, or Koningsdag, a celebration of the birthday of King Willem-Alexander. In Beijing, we already celebrated his majesty's birthday with a big cake and games last Saturday.

Mini version of the "free market" (which is kind of a flea market where, in the Netherlands on Kingsday, everyone is allowed to sell goods without permit or paying taxes). Our flea market had a lot of used toys. (Usually, as a parent you are so happy to finally get rid of some old junk...only to realize that your kids just used all the money to buy more crap at the same market.)

Water games. OK, I should have walked closer for this picture, but I was busy being a referee at the famous "aardappelrace" (kind of an egg-and-spoon race, but then with potatoes, to stay true to the Dutch heritage.)

Time to relax...

Confucius pondering about the inner virtues of the flea market.
Same expression...across the ages?

In the end, this is what it is all about. (Dutch bitterballen, a rare treat in the Jing.)
Simon discovered that the Dutch national colors are also perfect for highlighting his favorite team: the Washington DC Capitals Ice Hockey Team. Thomas proudly wears his new T-shirt marking the 10th anniversary of "The Red Lion," the Dutch language school in Beijing.

More Thomas, in case you can't get enough of the crazy hair.
In het Nederlands: Veel plezier met Koningsdag allemaal! In Beijing hebben we het zaterdag al gevierd met wat activiteiten georganizeerd door de Nederlandse school.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Follow the Way of Mao!

Yesterday a friend and I "followed the way of Mao Zedong"** all the way up the Chinese Wall at Mutianyu. In a lapse of sanity, we decided it was a good idea to train for our half Great Wall Marathon (coming up in three weeks) by running (read: walking) all the way up the steps to the Wall, then on the Wall for another two kilometers or so, and back.
(And friends in Holland or America or anywhere else relatively flat, if you think: "That's easy, I can run five kilometers," I invite you to come to Beijing and run five kilometers on the Wall with me. The whole thing--maybe six or so kilometers; my phone said 8.01km but the GPS gets confused on the steps--ended up taking us 1 hour and 50 minutes (including some time spent negotiating with the guy who wanted to sell us his 3 Yuan bottle of water for five times that price).
Here is a stellar picture of me, at the ticket window. It's hard to see, but the text above the window says "Slide the ticket," meaning you could perhaps "Slide your ticket" or buy "Tickets for the slide" that brings you back down from the Wall. I am not sure.
About an hour after ticket purchase we reach our end point. The Wall turns into a big bush... no more running. (Phew!) (OK, there was no time to take pictures on the way up!)
Celebrating the good work! - You might notice that summer has arrived in the Jing!
If we had brought a red ribbon, we could have tied it to this tree to show success. The kids are all school children, identified by their blue and white uniforms. (They actually looked remarkably fresh considering they just made the same climb we did.)
Great view over the Mutianyu valley. Beijing is somewhere far in the distance.
What goes up ...
... must come down.
Coming down to a watch tower. Better not to be afraid of heights, stairs, or people.
**Why "the way of Mao Zedong" you wonder? Well...all the way running up, that was our goal: four gigantic Chinese characters painted on the side of a rock saying "follow the way of Mao"! So we did...except, when we got there, in our euphoric state, we forgot to take a picture! I'll leave that for next time...when you, my precious reader, are coming to Beijing to run this track with me!
In het Nederlands: Gegroet familie! Het was natuurlijk een lange radio (Internet) stilte, maar dan hier toch maar een keer weer een nieuw bericht. Gisteren heb ik met een vriendin een flink stuk gelopen- geklommen-gerend om onze arme benen voor te bereiden op de halve marathon over de Chinese muur die we over drie weken gaan rennen. Het is prachtig weer hier opeens. Je kan op de foto's zien dat de zomer is losgebarsten.