Wednesday, August 22, 2007

China: Last day in Beijing

Yesterday was my last day in Beijing. In the morning, we had our closing ceremonies at the China National Institute of Cultural Property. I was asked to give a speech in behalf of all Asian countries present and blurted out a few Chinese lines I practiced the night before. They gave us our certificates and really nice tokens. A lunch banquet followed and it would not be complete without the traditional Chinese toast "Gan bei!" which means "Bottoms up!"

In the afternoon, I met up with my SSEAYP batchmates Pam and Edwin who were in Beijing for the 2nd China-ASEAN Youth Camp (I was a delegate during the 1st CAYC last year). What a coincidence that my schedule coincided with this year's camp.

We met at the Beijing Olypics Countdown Clock in Tian'anmen Square and proceeded to Houhai/Shichahai from there. Houhai is famous for its nightlife and chic bars and restaurants by the lake. I joined them back to their hotel because I wanted to meet Wu Wei of the All-China Youth Federation.

He invited me for drinks so we went back to Houhai. We took a cab since Wu Wei said he could not drink with me if he brought his car. Now that is being responsible!

Even on weekdays, the place is teeming with people. Nightlife is indeed alive in Houhai! And there were so many choices. We finally went to Lotus Blue Bar & Restaurant, downed half a case of Carlsberg there and played a dice game popular in bars to determine who drinks. It was all fun for my last night in Beijing! Photos are in Multiply.


So where's the apology?
While I was in China, an article by Malu Fernandez was e-mailed to me. When I got back, I realized the issue had been raging in the Internet for days. As a travel writer, I am unimpressed with her article. It does not give readers a sense of place of where she's been. Who cares if you used gold, open-toed sandals to climb the Acropolis? It's pathetic that the Hellenic attractions were only mentioned in passing. As a Filipino, I am appalled. How dare you call this country God-forsaken! You've even insulted your own countrymen.

If you want to read reactions to Malu's articles, simply type "Malu Fernandez" in Google. Trust me, they can get really nasty and I'm sure they'd give any reader a good laugh. I hope she learned her lesson. But everyone is waiting for her apology. And until she gives it, I don't think we will hear the last of this Malu Fernandez fiasco. I join the blogging community in expressing my indignation.

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