Last week, Alex and I took our Chinese wedding studio photos. It was quite an experience. And a long one at that. We arrived at 7:30am, a bit earlier than our 8am appointment. Other couples started arriving around that time as well (along with the employees to clock in for the day), and we counted around 15 other couples as we waited in the morning. This place is no ordinary studio. It’s sort of like its own movie lot. There are indoor and outdoor sets, and the outdoor sets are on the same lot, which makes it easier because we don’t have to drive outside of Beijing to take the outdoor photos. Granted, that meant that our outdoor nature shots were all fake, but I was okay with that.
There are many definitions of success. Last Sunday, success for me was defined as making it through my first Bikram Yoga (or Hot Yoga) class without passing out. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect, so I imagined it was something like doing yoga in a sauna. To be even more honest, I’m not a huge fan of yoga. I think mostly because I lack the patience to do the same moves repeatedly in very, very slow motion (so it seems to me). To me, exercising and burning calories means running on a basketball court or riding a bike uphill, not posing my body to look like a tree or a cobra. But…the idea of hot yoga was somewhat interesting to me, so I decided “What the heck…it’s worth a try.”
I got my friend to agree to attend the 90-minute Bikram yoga class with me. I’ve learned that when I plan to work out with others, I’m more likely to show up because I don’t want to flake out on them. I’m much more flaky when it’s just myself. Here’s a tip for those of you who find it hard to motivate yourself to work out: Find a workout buddy! It’s good for accountability as well. We went to the 5pm class on Sunday at the Pacific Century Club near Sanlitun. Drop-ins cost 150RMB and include two large towels, a locker, and a yoga mat which is provided in the studio. I’d suggest you bring an extra hand towel (to soak up your sweat) and a large bottle of water, which you’ll need to replenish your fluids.
Last night I attended my first ever Chinese concert…..the amazingly talented (and super hot) Wang Lee Hom. Alex and I went to Wang Lee Hom’s Music Man II concert at the Bird’s Nest in Beijing. It was a beautiful night, warm with a slight breeze. The top of the Bird’s Nest was open, and we enjoyed a great “outdoor” concert. As the sky grew darker, the glowing light sticks of the audience grew brighter, illuminating the stadium. Before we entered the stadium, we had been bombarded by vendors selling giant glow sticks that flashed repeatedly, preventing all epileptics from fully enjoying the concert.
The stadium quieted in anticipation. As we waited in suspense, the stage flashed a fiery red, revealing a dragon pattern around its border. Smoke crept in from both sides of the stage, and through the smoke, I could just make out the outline of…..a tank. Not just any tank, but a colorful and brightly lit tank moving slowly, emerging, taking place at the center of the stage. As it stopped, the entire stadium was filled with voices chanting “Lee Hom! Lee Hom! Lee Hom!” A red figure appeared standing atop the tank. It was Wang Lee Hom, standing and ready to blow us away with his music.
Sometimes you just need a break from Beijing. It’s inevitable. Although I love this city, sometimes the sheer amount of people ramming their elbows into you while you ride the subway, or the “fog” that you’re breathing in and is shortening your life, can be a little too much for extended lengths of time. Ideally, my break from Beijing would be to go back home, where LA’s skies are considered “blue,” my mom makes me steak and potatoes, and I lie out sunbathing by my pool. Unfortunately, being unemployed kind of limits how far I can travel.
Last week, Alex and I decided to take our own break from Beijing and head to Shenzhen for several days to visit my dad, who was in town. Although Beijing’s weather has been getting nicer, it’s still dry as a desert. As soon as we stepped off the plane, we felt a stickiness on our faces that was almost foreign. I had forgotten what it was like to be in a humid environment. Though slightly uncomfortable, it was definitely a welcome change. I’ve been to Shenzhen numerous times, and there are many similarities to Beijing in the sense that Shenzhen is also a good-sized city. However, sometimes “taking a break” just means taking a break from a familiar environment. The subways in Shenzhen aren’t as crowded. People actually wait for passengers to get off the train before getting on, and cars and buses actually stop behind the crosswalk. I loved having to look at a subway map to figure out how to get to certain places. And I actually really like staying in hotels.