Monday, November 29, 2010

China, Day 9 - Forbidden City, Tianamen, Hutong

Day 9, Wednesday, October 28, 2010

We started with our usual 9am breakfast and then MM, KS and I headed to the Forbidden City. We kind of rushed all the way through (from back to front) and then M had to leave; so we went back through towards to climb the hill in the park across the street so we could see into the Forbidden City from above, not to mention over Beijing. The Forbidden City is really pretty and impressively restored. And jampacked full of tourists. Then we walked around the outside to get to Tiannamen Square which we looked at but didn’t intensively explore. We were on the Forbidden City side of major traffic. We headed next to the Pearl Market which was a bargain shopper’s hell or paradise. There were no prices on anything – you had to haggle for your price. If you said you weren’t interested they would drop their price. I was okay until I had to haggle for scarves… I don’t think I got them down low enough because that kind of haggling was stressful to me. Got some great gifts, and all in all, didn’t spend much $... and most of it was still per diem.

Forbidden City


Forbidden City

Forbidden City

Chinese Broom

Forbidden City

Forbidden City

Forbidden City - Beijing

Forbidden City - Beijing


Chinese Musician

Forbidden City - Beijing

Forbidden City - Beijing

We headed back having been out from 10am to 6pm and joined everyone else who was still in town for a dinner in the Golou Hutong. LKL, our Chinese-speaking TD, found us a great local restaurant where there is no English on the menu. We had a great meal and for the 8 of us, it was only 186 RMB. TOTAL. That was with 4 beers. Such good food.

Hutong Reflections

Authentic Amazing Chinese Meal

Authentic Amazing Chinese Meal

Also we found out that it is likely that our crew doesn’t know how to read – so all that translated paperwork was for nothing. Poor S who bravely translated it all.

Look: a Tourist Kitty:

Tourist Kitty

Some interestingly/amusingly translated signs:

Interesting Chinese Sign - Forbidden City

Interesting Chinese Sign - Forbidden City

Interesting Chinese Sign - Forbidden City

Forbidden City - Beijing

Forbidden City

For my best friend, a firefighting tool:

Copper Vats - Ancient Chinese Firefighting

There are TONS more photos in my China Adventure set at flickr. I may have uploaded 200 pictures along from the Forbidden City. Check them out.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

China, Day 8

Day 8, Wednesday, October 27, 2010

KS and I decided to explore Beijing and find the Silk Mall. Except we went the wrong way on the Beijing subway where KS delighted in being a minority for once. Having killed a little too much time, we swung quickly by the Olympic Park and saw the Bird's Nest and Water Cube up close. We made it back in time to change and run to the theatre.

The show went decently - doing a show through translation is a different beast entirely. Also there is no such thing as backstage security in the theatre so we had people wandering through backstage at the oddest times - though thankfully they skirted the stage itself. And pretty much as soon as the curtain hit the deck, it was time to strike. We (stage management) had to pack up the props which was a new and fun adventure. To add to our fun, the government shut the water off at 10pm which mean no water to do laundry, or worse yet, use the facilities. Thankfully, we were done in about an hour and escaped back to the hotel around midnight and collapsed into bed.

These pictures are mostly from our day walking about for a few hours in Beijing. We took the subway (a new thing for us) and ended up in the wrong part of Beijing - meaning no English anywhere and we were definitely out of place.

Chinese Subway


North Beijing

Food Carts

Overloaded Cart

We ended up going back to the Olympic park:

Pagoda Tower

Water Cube

Bird's Nest

Water Cube

Water Cube

Bird's Nest

On many stairs outside of subways, there are these ramps for hand carts or the like:

A Ramp for Handcarts

Here's more life in Beijing:

Taking a Break

Bike City

And remember that building I said to keep an eye on:

Collapsing Building

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

China, Day 7

Day 7, Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday was supposed to be a day off but instead it became a technical rehearsal which was mostly beneficial for lights, spots and projections. We did not have our usual translators but those who stepped up to the challenge and did well.

One of my fav pictures backstage:

A Tangle of Cables

This'd never fly in the US. This isn't in a main path so we didn't fight this battle. Fellow electricians, cringe with me.

The highlight of the day was having dinner in old Beijing in a hutong (the Chinese word for neighborhood). It was a great little resturant called The Source. It was one of those resturants who prepared food based on the number of people and it was chef’s choice. We had SO much good food and a lot of beer. I ate SO much food. We walked through the rest of the hutong to a bar and had more drinks. It was a wonderful night off where we did not talk about work much.

A Very Delicious Chinese Meal

A Very Delicious Chinese Meal

A Very Delicious Chinese Meal

A Very Delicious Chinese Meal

A Very Delicious Chinese Meal

As always, check out my flickr photostream for many many more pictures than are included here.

Also, a photo to track:

Neighboring Building

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

China, Days 5 and 6

Day 5, Sunday, October 24, 2010

I woke up early and got a pleasant surprise, it was sunny!

Sunday was long and stressful, and made worse that our theatre was used for a church service that morning. We were told they needed a grand piano and we weren't thrilled about that rolling over our very expensive and damageable Marley floor. Well, we were certainly surprised to show up at the theatre to find a) they weren't done and b) they had loaded a HUGE set up in, took tables from backstage and just set our things on the floor (luckily, nothing was broken) and made the backstage even more chaotic. And of course, took forever to load out.

We started our afternoon rehearsal late but we managed to get everything done that we needed to. The language barrier with the crew is steep, but our translators are a big help, as is our bi-lingual Technical Director, LKL.

We were still missing several elements of the show, but did as well as we could without them.

One thing that is just amazing is that everyone has a cell phone on it and they are on it constantly. I thought American teenagers were bad, but Chinese will put them to shame. Crew, adult chorus, kids - all alike. A chorus member walked offstage in the middle of the evening rehearsal to answer her phone. I'm not kidding. Via the translators, we told them that cell phones are banned from the stage and they must be kept in their dressing rooms or they will be confiscated for the duration of the rehearsal.

I have to say, this isn't the first time I've seen cell phone usage inappropriately during rehearsals, but usually singers are more stealth about it. And properly shamefaced when caught. Usually if someone is expecting an important phone call they will leave word or they will leave their cellphones with someone like company management or stage management.

Another little cultural barrier, albeit an unexpected one.

Day 6, Monday, October 25, 2010


I went for a walk this morning because of the beautiful blue sky. It's still chilly but there's sun… and it's for the second day running. It's looking like we'll have sun for our days off and there is no complaining there. Today will be a long day with flying rehearsal, orchestra run through and orchestra final dress.

Again, I cannot stress enough… Cars are everywhere, there are no traffic rules and they’re awfully fond of a) using their horn and liberally so, and driving wherever they damn please including parking on sidewalks. Police cars don’t use their sirens (we have heard them once) and the military look to be the firefighters… or else they wear dress uniforms all the time. Fascinating. I don’t dare get close enough to take pictures. In many government areas, there is a gate (not very high) and a guard who stands in a plexi box (that only goes up to his shins) and has a little velvet rope in front of him. Kind of like the guards at Buckingham Palace except a little less stony. Also haven’t dared to take their picture either. Yet.

Blocking the Sidewalk

Pedestrians never have the right of way and crossing streets is occasionally like playing Frogger. It is amazing. I hate cars when I am a pedestrian and Beijing endears me to them even less. Plus cars follow their own rules. It’s worse than New York.

Red Cab Driver/Red Cab

Across the street from the theatre is Lucky Street with a bunch of food places that are international. Thai. Japanese. Korean. German. Nashville (read: American), Indian. Italian. KS and I had Italian yesterday, having had enough Chinese/Asian food for awhile.

Four of the children’s chorus cornered me yesterday and asked me in chorus if I was Korean. When I confirmed, they chorused “Anyonghaseo!” I had to tell them that not only did I not speak Chinese, I did not speak Korean. Thankfully their English is good enough.

My being mistaken for Chinese is now a big in-joke now amongst our American group. Amazing. Crew, chorus, etc always try to speak Chinese to me.

Street Cleaners

Asleep on the Job


Grocery Run

Neighboring Building


Chinese Grocery

Don't forget to check out Flickr for more pictures. I'm not even posting a 1/5th of what I've taken on this blog. For once, I'm being wordy.