Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I went birdwatching with Yan and 30 chinese people one weekend while we were in Beijing. The trip took us to the mouth of the Yellow River where it spills into the East Sea.

It was about a 6 hour ride one way on a public bus. The whole weekend including 2 nights in a hotel with catered food and transportion cost $90.

I've never gone birdwatching before. That was pretty cool. We mostly looked for birds in manmade reservoirs near the ocean and also on the ocean shore. There were mostly swans, geese, ducks, herons, and some hawks and other little birds that forage the shallow areas for shellfish. We also saw some little treebirds as well.

Though Yan and I were having a good time more than anything, the people on the bus with us were way more hardcore. Most of them brought full out telescopes from famous brands like Swarovsky and Zeiss. They had tripods that looked like they belonged as a fixture on the side of the road. Most people (even Yan) had bird books for China and were looking up species and genus names for every bird they came across.

The look on their faces and excitement in the bus was humorous and overwhelming whenever the guide called out that he saw a new bird on the side of the road and loudly asked the driver to please stop or at least lower the engine noise so that the new specimen doesn't fly away.

Another great thing about this trip was that I felt completely Chinese unless I opened my mouth. I enjoyed just pretending like I was one of the locals. Yan helped me quite a bit with translations so that I would wake up at the right time and come down to dinner at the right time and not miss any busses.

The Chinese people were very friendly to me also. They asked me frequently to look into their telescopes once they had located a pretty bird and some of them practiced their English a little bit since I was there and all.

Surprisingly to me, there was a little boy about age 8 on the bus with his dad and he started speaking English to me first. He was really cute and playing around with him reminded me of Eli (my former "little brother" in Seattle). His English was pretty good and he was such a good kid. I could tell that he was going to grow up into a formidable adult.

Food was served in typical banquet style with a lazy susan in the center. Everyone dug in like they were eating at home with family. I loved it because it was so relaxed. One guy was talking with food sticking out of his mouth multiple times. I chuckled to myself watching that.

I can't promise that I would go on a birdwatching trip again, although I did have a good time this time. I know myself: I'd probably be more interested in playing with the different telescopes than actually watching the birds.


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