Some highlights of the sightseeing: We tried to go to the forbidden city, but it was already getting late, so we went to Jingshan park just north of the palace. From the top of the hill, there is a spectacular view of the palace and it's 1000 yellow roofs. We went to Houhai, a lake area that is packed with bars, restaurants, kitchy little shops selling all sorts of souvenirs, and rickshaws. When I said we like walking because you also get exercise, the driver suggested I bike and he ride. Lots of street food was consumed, including bings, little sesame cakes, lamb skewers, potstickers, jian bing, and deep fried pumpkin.
It's a little sad, but I've been less enthused about learning Chinese lately. I've been going to fewer chinese classes with the hope that if I hang around the office more, I can help out in the lab more. (I still haven't actually started lab work yet, 2 months later) I've also been trying to read more articles to learn more about the research being done. But in the meantime, my original drive to learn Chinese has slackened. I guess it's good that I'm going to be doing Environmental Engineering my whole life instead of Chinese.
I've been reading a ton here, so if you have a good book to suggest, let me know and I'll try to track it down.