I have finally exceeded someone's expectations

So while nearly everybody in the PiB program spent their Saturday taking advantage of the program's first organized weekend activity, going to see the Great Wall, I opted out. A large factor in that decision was the departure time of 7:30 AM. I hadn't gotten more than 6 hours of sleep all week, and I'd already seen the Wall, so I was antisocial and spent the day on my own.

After sleeping in and getting some delicious Beijing-style breakfast, I set off. With the help of the ever-useful receptionist at the front desk of my dorm building, I learned which bus to get on to take me to one of the biggest shopping centers in Beijing. (In an attempt to reduce congestion, the government has lowered public transport costs; a bus ride costs about 0.15USD). Even though I don't love shopping, it was a fun experience. I didn't see a single other non-East Asian person, and so I felt like I was immersing myself in something truly local. As I was asking for directions, a lady asked me, in English “Where are you from?”. I replied in Chinese, “I don't speak English, I'm from Spain”. And so I got to keep on practicing my Chinese with her, but I denied her the opportunity of practicing her English with me. Sucks for her.

After successfully acquiring some socks and boxers, I opened up my trusty guide book, “The Search for a Vanishing Beijing”. It told me I was near what it called the Five Pagodas Temple, but is today actually called the Zhēnjué Temple, which translates to True Feeling Temple or something similar. It was really nice being in a quiet, beautiful place after walking down the noisy, busy, polluted streets between the Temple and the shopping center. I suppose the air was still polluted in the temple, but the placebo effect of not seeing cars whizzing by made it feel cleaner. If you want to read about the temple, go to the Zhenjue Temple Wikipedia article, which I'll try and update today if I have time. UPDATE: it appears that it's not possible to edit wikipedia from mainland China. I'll just put the highlights of what I was going to write:

The temple was built in the mid 1400's. It was built according to a model that a monk brought from India, except the Chinese architects added a Chinese style circular roof. It now also serves as a museum of stone sculptures and inscriptions.

Upon leaving the temple, I had a truly wonderful experience. Knowing that closing time would bring an exodus of visitors (most of them Chinese) from the temple, some street vendors had set up outside the exit. I approached one of the vendors and started to visually inspect his wares. I must have appeared very puzzled, because the vendor felt it necessary to make a grunting noise to get my attention, point to his food items, open his mouth, then point to his mouth several times. I laughed at his pantomime effort to explain to me that he was selling food, and said in Mandarin, “It's food, I know. What's in it?” 

Meat,” he replied. 

Pork?” I asked.

Yes, and also chicken.” Perhaps because the fact that I understood a little bit of Mandrin hadn't sunk in, or perhaps just to be on the safe side, as he said "chicken" he brought his hands close to his arm-pits and began to flap his “wings”. For this performance alone I would have paid the $1.50 that I eventually paid for one of the little meat packets. Not only was his pantomime supremely entertaining, but it also felt good that my Chinese was at least better than this street vendor expected.

To be fair, I could understand a Westerner not knowing that the little greenish bundles contained food. Wrapping food in non-edible leaves is not something that's done very often in Western cuisine. Here're pictures of what the little things (I think they're called xiāng bǎo ròu, but I'm not sure) look like: