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Day 14 Friends of Nature Part 2 自然之友

Please see the post from Max





I wake up at 6:53 with a sore throat. I have some warm soy milk, yogurt and red tea (sacrilegiously with honey) at breakfast in an attempt to bring it some relief. We're set to be ready to leave at 8:15 in the lobby so it takes us 15 minutes before we exit, using our metro cards to board our first public bus in Beijing. Half of us have EarPods in, all are in various stages of acknowledging that we are indeed awake. There's a drab peacefulness to the city as we pass it, a perpetually moving lull.

50 minutes and 1 transfer later we meet our guides from Friends of Nature who escort us to a mall referred to by the Wal-Mart housed inside it to relieve ourselves of the fluids that, try as they might, couldn't do the same for my throat. We reunite with the Chinese students by the river and a van sufficiently inconspicuous so as to arouse suspicion. After 2 hours of collecting data along 清河 we reconvene at our starting point where a middle-aged woman is getting her hair cut while a man who is presumably her husband with a well-dressed bottom half and T-shirt smokes with solemn mirth as he watches her.

Lunch had more vegetarian dishes than not; a Chinese miracle if there ever was one. A bitter battle was waged between the two tables over the last remaining 雪碧, ending, after much quarrel and turmoil, in the defeated table ordering a new bottle for themselves to guzzle.

Flower Boy by Tyler, The Creator seems tailor made for late-afternoon biking in 北京. For those minutes heading from classes at 民族大学 to the nearest 地铁站 the whole city, as seen from atop the ofo 小黄车, becomes as clear as the California daze going by it finds itself cast in.

The mall is a long road positing the virtue of a thoroughly modernist meta-narrative of industrialized and commercialized globalization. The catholic church we gather by housed inside it announces it as a place of government-approved worship.

My group looks for dinner at the APM Mall, eventually (and inefficiently) deciding on a Japanese restaurant whose only (and newly added) vegetarian ramen I order, generously supplement with the provided hot peppers and garlic, and consume by the time my companions' meals arrive. I (politely as I can afford to) leave to explore the amiably overpriced shops on the lower floors before making the trek to the six-floor bookstore we passed on our way in. After some confusion as to the contents of each floor I find the 蓝光 I have no business looking for, yet alone buying, in this country. After keenly perusing a gorgeous steelbook of Tim Burton's Big Fish I reluctantly settle for an inspired double feature of Jeff Nichols' Midnight Special and Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick's A.I.: Artificial Intelligence for the same price and rejoin our group in front of the clock tower with a Big Ben complex.

After giving a summary of what you're reading at the hotel lobby debriefing I stop by the convenience store to pick up some 润喉糖 for my throat, which has gotten worse. I head up to the 12th floor with a docile satisfaction at the day's events that's mostly exhaustion. I prepare to shower, fulfill my dental duties and get some (REDACTED) sleep.