Monday, January 14, 2013

First real weekend!

Despite forgetting to utilize the 70块 (about 11 dollars) reimbursement we could have gotten if we had gone to historical sites, this weekend was fantastic! I would describe it as a "eating my way through Beijing" weekend, though there is still so much more to try/eat! (I promise I am eating mom!)

Of course I have been running a lot- here is a scene from the park on Saturday morning.. hmm just kidding, my video can't upload. It was a large performance in the middle of the park of traditional "red songs" and all the older people walking around were joining in singing as they walked by,  as in the past they were mandated to have sung them, which made for a vibrant/immersive listening experience. This sort of stuff happens all the time in the parks, especially the bigger ones like the one I run in. There are always older people up to something in the park- taiqi, dancing (and I meaning ballroom type dancing, anyone can join in and everyone gets really into it), this sport that has a racket like tennis, but the ball is really heavy and the goal is to balance it, Chinese yo-yo, various martial arts, some sort of exercise that involves loud shouts every once in a while, and using the "exercise machines" which can be found in parks (I'll take a picture for you guys soon :) But here is a picture of part of the park! I was the only white person in the park as far as I could tell, and it was pretty full and it's a pretty big park. But not at all touristy I think, which means people aren't used to seeing white people I guess, because I always get a lot of stares, though it's been getting better- I think I'm becoming a normal sight there.

And.. I'm a terrible photo taker, I think that's my glove on the top right..

Though admittedly not today or yesterday, as the air pollution has apparently been "beyond classification" (?!) Here is picture from around 15:00 today. I don't think it looks that bad, but you can't see the sky at all/ there is no sun and there are no shadows.

But back to the good part- Food!

So I'm pretty sure the food/snack/dessert featured above is my new favorite food ever. 高琳 (my super fantastic roommate) bought it for me, it's sort of like a not so sweet pudding- the majority is steamed milk+egg whites, and then there are red beans and yellow beans on top!

I'm in China for real! Look at those lions! And jeans (Bridgette : ) )

That wasn't a food picture.. We went to 后海, or behind the sea, (yes, there is a 前海, in front of the sea), which is super touristy. And yes, there is no real sea, it's just a pretty big lake, but that's its name. There were more foreign people there then I've seen in a long time, as well as so many coffee places- there are 0 in my neighborhood, so everything was super expensive. But we did visit the first post office in China, which was gorgeous. I want to live there, even though it is tiny. I guess the most interesting thing was that you can tell Chinese people apart from foreigners by how we behave- I still haven't adopted the slightly aggressive way of standing in a line so common here, nor have I gotten used to people not paying heed to cars, and cars not paying heed to people. I'm sure I will though.

Yummm 麻辣烫
We were going to get hot pot but the lines were too long, so we went here instead. All that soup for 12块 (about 2 dollars). So the way it works is you pick out the veggies etc you want and put them on a tray, then you go to the counter, get confused by the waiter's Beijing accent, attempt to reinforce you do not want spicey food, get questioned about whether you'll need a fork, get your spoon and chopsticks, pay, be questioned for exact change (which I almost never seem to have) and then return to your seat to wait for the food. Oh! You can also see the roasted hazelnuts we bought here- there are alot of roasted nuts here, even chestnuts! So good.

Fancy roofs!
That's from.. not 后海 but someplace nearby- we wandered around before eventually taking the subway back home.

木耳+鸡蛋 and .. I forgot. But it was super good!
On to the next day! Sunday! So despite 木耳's terrible english name (edible fungus) it is actually one of my favorite things to eat- it's also a feature in many veg dishes, so this is indeed pretty fortuitous. This is at 高琳's university's cafeteria- it's the only open over break, she says other ones are more like a classic buffet cafeteria, but this one is more like fast food court. Even though we were eating pretty late, 14ish, it was pretty packed. When you come in, you pick up chopsticks and a stick to balance the eating side on, and then you lay them down where you're going to sit, and no one will take that spot.

A sandwich, I kid you not. It has bread on the outside,
 and inside there is more cakey bread, and some dried meat. 

The above gem was found in 高琳's student shop, though now that I know to look for them, they're everywhere! Other before unseen food items I have now seem include, pea ice cream and a pre-made sandwich with red bean in the middle. That last one was pretty good actually, it's what I ate for breakfast today.

Chinese McDonalds!
So in China, foreign brands are considered better, so even though there are McDonalds, KFC, Sketchers and other name brands here, regardless of how expensive there are in America, because they are American they are considered better/classier. But since we are in China, these brands have been heavily influenced by China, so some McDonalds are actually quite classy, with a little dessert and coffee bar, dark woods and nice paint colors (or so it looked from the outside).

You might not be able to see it, but an option is "Refreshing Black Funguses"
as well as Egg Tarts 
I was told KFC's egg tarts are really good, and that I should use them as a baseline to compare others against, so my roommate and I ventured to KFC to get some. She says some of her guy friends will get the 6 pieces option, so they'll eat 5 egg tarts and she'll eat one. They are pretty good, but not as good is that 双皮奶. :) 

Other than eating, we also went to get some calligraphy supplies for me, which was quite successful, and window shopped for a while. When we got back we both were feeling like we had a cold, and we had work to do, so we stopped for a dinner of soup, which I should have taken a picture of because they were both so Chinese! We got one sweet and one salty one, both were veg because 高琳 is so nice, the sweet one had all sorts of beans and dried fruit (called 8 tastes or something?) and the salty one had cucumber and rice. We also got a stir-fried lotus root dish and some noodles. So good. 

One last thing- I am working really hard to improve my tones, so I went to my teachers office hours today and asked them to correct my pronunciation, and my teacher said I had the 8th best pronunciation (not tones! definitely not including tones!) of anyone he'd met. This is probably an exaggeration, but I remain pleased. 

That's it for now! Got to practice some characters!



  1. So jealous of all the good looking (and cheap)food! Also you should write some anthropological blogs on the behavioural differences of foreigners vs Beijing natives and get some extra credits as well as entertaining all of us =) AND, DON'T RUN IN THE POLLUTION... pls... we don't want you coming back with some weird lung emphysema or something... we couldn't go climbing then. =( Take care and have a fun week!

  2. :) I should indeed- it would probably be more amusing in movie form, because a lot of the super funny parts involve hacking coughs and their tendency to add a "rrrr" noise to the end of many words :) OK Mr. maybe future Doctor, I won't :) But it's killing meeee ... Can't believe how quickly the time is going here/how much class+work there is! :) Have a great week yourself! I hear it's cold in CA, don't freeze!

    1. We WERE Freezing... gosh I didn't know it could get so cold here... but now we are totes keeping a fire going like all afternoon/evening/night. And we try not to open the door to your room because it's an icicle storage closet I swear! So now we are just cold, but we have smores so we are happy ^___^ .... also... hacking coughs: what happens to your lungs after lots of pollution -- "Mr. maybe future doctor". He also wishes you lots of luck with all the work!

  3. Those are some giant red and yellow beans!!!

  4. 8th best...hmmm. That would drive me crazy. Take good care. Hope it warms up soon.