Going to the Movies

After a bit of complication, my friend and classmate Avi has finally made it to Tianjin. He arrived really late on the 26th, instead of going to sleep like normal travelers who know about jet lag, we got dressed and made a 3:30am KFC run. After a satisfying meal, we spent the night talking to friends on skype and probably didn’t sleep until 6-6:30am. Nonetheless, I set an alarm for 12 pm and we woke up to do a few errands around Tianjin. We had to open up a bank account with the Communications Bank on campus (a requirement to receive the monthly scholarship allowance), visit offices, and print documents. Around 3pm, Avi and I set out to find the movie theater and finally catch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- Part 2. I first asked the reception desk at the international building, but the lady had no idea where one might be, so I asked if Wal-Mart would have one (strange, but in China they usually do), she confirmed my suspicions and we were off! …Except none of the bus stops are actually called “Wal-Mart”, so Avi and I started asking everyone we met on the street which bus to take, but everyone was clueless. Their reactions were: “Wa-al-ma-rrt??” As if they never heard of this mystical land, then they would give an obscure answer. So I switched tactics and began asking young people, same response but finally I stumbled upon a girl who seemed to know where a movie theater was, even if she didn’t know how to get to Wal-Mart, take bus 643 to BinJiangDao (滨江道). After arriving, I was pleasantly surprised to have found a big shopping center here in Tianjin, it is chock full of shops, restaurants, and mini attractions. Not to be distracted from our prize, though, Avi and I asked everyone how to get to the theaters, the reactions were even crazier. When I asked the people they made me repeat the words “movie theater” over and over, as if they knew this word, but had never experienced it or something. I would just say maybe I was saying it wrong but my tones and pronunciation of the movies is on point, to put it modestly. So I tried saying “movie theater” with a northern Chinese accent instead to others, but same reaction. I actually had a store clerk say, “Well what are you going to do at the theaters?”…My response: “Watch movies (WTF?!)”

So it is just my wild guess, but I would assume watching movies isn’t a great, pastime here in Tianjin. After walking for two hours, our mission was a success, the allusive theater was found. What kind of sucked though was that there was no IMAX option to watch Harry Potter without it also being 3D…and I despise 3D movies. So we bought the normal screening of the film, but they were only showing it at 9:50PM that night, since it was only about 5, Avi and I had time to kill. In the middle of a square, we discovered a special advertising performance for a new cell phone, there were cameras, funny MCs, break dancing, and Avi and I got sucked into a karaoke competition to win the phone. Strange things happen in China when you have nothing to do. We sang an old classic hit, a Chinese song called Pengyou (Friends) by Zhou HuaJian. We sucked but being foreign on staging and singing Chinese has a way of pumping up the crowd, we walked away with free photo frames, even if we didn’t win. At 9:30 we went back to the theaters and waited for the movie to start.

 The funny part of going to the movies in China is that you get to choose you seats, as if it’s an airplane. Avi didn’t know this and was surprised by the row and seat number on our tickets (it was his first time going in China). I got us a bucket of popcorn beforehand, in Asia sweet popcorn is VERY popular, getting salty popcorn is actually hard to find. Luckily, I don’t really mind and we had a grand old time watching Harry save the day~

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