I'm now down to three days away from home and, staying true to form, I haven't packed anything yet. I have a small pile in the living room of things I've accumulated to bring back, but that's as far as I've gotten!
Loren and I made the trek to Ancient Culture Street and Silk Alley today with a mission. We failed the mission, but still brought back some cool stuff. Our first stop was the Hepingmen subway stop, where there are two stores that sell like-minded Chinese art. They'll customize scrolls with any passage you want and they sell carved nativities and some really beautiful things. We didn't buy anything from the first store, but the owner's toddler kept saying "Yesu ai ni" to us over and over. So cute! His Mom gave Loren and I some ribbon bookmarks on our way out. I bought a silver charm for a necklace from the other place. It has "恩典" (en dian) hanging vertically in silver Chinese characters, which means "grace."
We grabbed some lunch from Subway, then started to look for what we had come for - glass globes. The water is made out of china and each country is formed out of a precious stone. The labels are in both Chinese and English. We thought we could get them for about 200 yuan, but unfortunately only one store was selling them. They knew they had a monopoly on the globe market and refused to come down lower than 600 yuan, which is almost $100. We decided to try Jin Wu Xin, another market, some other time. There aren't too many foreigners there, so it's easier to bargain and get a better deal... they don't try to rip you off nearly so badly as Silk Alley. I picked up a chain for the silver charm and we headed back home.
A junior student stopped by for a little while to play cards with us. Can you guess which game? Uno, of course! Kevin left me the first two seasons of Prison Break and I've been getting into it since I have free time until my flight on Tuesday. I watched a couple episodes after the students left this afternoon, then we all ate chicken wraps (cheapest dinner ever - 3.5 yuan, or $0.50) and fruit at Joel and Mary's apartment. By all, I mean the six of us remaining. The boys entertained us with their mad mosquito-murdering skills during dinner. Killing them the old fashioned way with their hands eventually gave way to busting out the wen zi racquet (see the You Tube clip on the sidebar). We walked to see the new Pierce Brosnan movie (which is called 24 hours in Chinese, for some reason... not even close to the English title) but the two theaters we tried were only showing it in Chinese with English subtitles. Disappointing, but we ate Cold Stone to make up for it, then walked back under our umbrellas. Today marks the fifth day in a row of rain and lightning, which must set some kind of record for Beijing. It usually rains as many times in a month.
If you lived away from Western culture for ten months, what's the first thing you would do when you came back? So far, each returning team mate has hit up Taco Bell on the way home from the airport.