Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The 21st Century is Kind of Awesome

This was supposed to go into the author's note for the latest chapter of The Prince and Me but then it began to feel like it's going to get longer than the fic itself.  

The name of the chapter (The 21st Century is Kind of Awesome) is basically the summary of a Twilight fanfic that is currently on my favourite list (yes, I do have Twilight fics in my fav list, and often they are better than the books). That fic, called going nowhere, going somewhere by Estora revolves around an Edward who actually has a personality. This fic has very little to do with the chapter of my fic, but I liked the phrase hehe.

First of all, I have to say the chapter The 21st Century is Kind of Awesome is partly a result of my attempt at Nanowrimo this year (which I failed spectacularly, all efforts considered). Part of Nano includes a lot of procrastination time whereby I dig up all these character building quizzes. You now, quizzes that have you pretend to be your character and answer questions about each and every one of their likes and dislike. 

And so The 21st Century is Kind of Awesome is a sort of an exploration of some of Xiao Yan's (and to a certain extent, Yong Qi's) likes and dislikes, but then somehow goes into a sort of reflection of my own rather odd love affair with Zhao Wei. 

On the subject of some of Yong Qi's likes, in reality, Tottenham Hotspurs are not doing so badly in the Premier League as I imply in the chapter. Not that I actually follow Premier League football.

In case you did not recognise the movie that Xiao Yan and Yong Qi went to see in this chapter, it is, of course, A Time to Love, starring Zhao Wei and Lu Yi.

I just wanted to share the whole idea behind the scene where Xiao Yan and Yong Qi went to the hotpot restaurant, which on the surface seems like a pretty useless scene. Well, it is pretty useless, but it's 100% based on my experience at Hai Di Lao Hotpot. 

Bei Wa Lu is a real street in Beijing (at least, I think I remembered it right), where near there is a real Hai Di Lao Hotpot restaurant. I ate there when I was recently (read, a month ago) in Beijing and I swear, it was one of the best service experiences of my life, if not the best. In Vietnamese we have a saying, "The customer is the emperor" and boy, did I feel like an emperor there. 

My friend and I didn’t actually have to wait for a table when we went there, but there war a waiting area that looked pretty cool and I have heard you do actually get a manicure and a shoe shine as you wait. 

Regarding the bathroom of this restaurant, it might seem strange for me to gush about a bathroom. But I swear everything I described in that scene in the fic is true. Except that, unlike Xiao Yan, I couldn't ask a waiter for direction to the bathroom from my table (because I speak no Chinese), it took me several near wrong turns to get to the bathroom. Yes, there were signs but still it was like a maze. I nearly got lost getting back to the table, which of course has no sign to direct me. But the bathroom was pretty awesome, especially compared to normal Beijing public toilets, but I won't go into that. 

Of course, whether this restaurant existed in 2005 when The Prince and Me was set, I don't know and if it did, whether it looked like it does now in 2010 is debatable. And for all my awe about this restaurant, I was disappointed when I got home and realised I had taken no photo of it. I think my friend and I were too busy eating. 

By the way, while I'm on the topic of my trip to Beijing, I have to say I did pass Gong Zhu Fen or the place that inspired HZGG. Well, it's a subway station.'s pretty unepic. But I did get a photo of the sign that said Gong Zhu Fen.

My friend and I were planning to go to the set where they shot HZGG but that plan fell through the roof. That place is supposed to be quite a way outside the city so we were actually ready to spend a whole day to get there and back. Unfortunately the day before we planned to go, we decided to go to the Ba Da Ling Great Wall near the Olympic One World One Dream sign. On a Sunday in the Chinese National Day weekend. 

Well, needless to say, the combination of the destination and the date made traffic...a nightmare. We left the house at 7am and got the Great Wall at 12 noon. Yeah, I spent 5 hours standing squished on a bus. Anyway, we knew that to go to the place where they shot HZGG, we'd have to pretty much make that same bus trip, only go for even longer. After that bus trip from hell, not even the prospect of seeing Shu Fang Zhai (if it's still there, which is doubtful) could draw two massive HZGG fans to get on that bus again. 

And I actually had hoped to see Jing Yang Gong when I visited the Palace Museum. That didn't happen either. Again, it was Chinese National Day holidays, so the Palace Museum was packed. I don't think it would be even that packed when people actually lived there. So basically by the time we made it from the Imperial Garden out to Qian Qing Gong, we were basically too eager to get out of the crowd (by that time, all we could actually see was people and practically nothing else.) to even want to go find Jing Yang Gong which was somewhere off to the sides. We didn't even bother to fight our way in to see Tai Hua Dian which is arguably one of the main attractions of the place. 

 View from Wu Men

Boy, after visiting the Palace Museum, did I feel for Xiao Yan Zi. Now I totally understand why she needed the Easy Kneeling. And now I also so understand why getting in was hard, getting out of the palace was even harder.   

We sat on the steps of Yang Xin Dian, eating ice cream. I'm pretty sure Qian Long would have loved us for it if he ever knew. Then again, I'm pretty sure if ice cream existed in China in those days, Xiao Yan Zi would not be above eating it while sitting on the steps of Yang Xin Dian either.

No, I didn't make it to Heng Dian Studios in Zhejiang to check out the set of the New HZGG. But that's probably for the best. Though speaking of New HZGG, walking around the market, or the Palace Museum, or the Great Wall, there were a lot of stalls selling the Manchurian princess hats as souvenir or toys. Please tell me this is normal in Beijing regardless of the new HZGG being made. But even then, I suspect these princess hats are a result of the New HZGG since along with Manchurian princess hats, there were exact replica of the new Sai Ya's (Tibetan princess) hat as shown in released stills of HZGG. Well, looks like the drama isn't even out yet and it's already making money. 

Panda Ge ge