Mmmmm Macau!

Mmmmmmm….Macau. More about the country/Special Economic Region aka Casino later. First, on to the food!

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As a former colony of Portugal , the European influences are obvious. Egg Tart meet Mouth.

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Going with the colonial theme we can sneak some Brazilian cuisine in there. Meat anyone?

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This simple pork on bread with Siracha is simple but great. These things along with Egg Tarts are ubiquitous in Macau.

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There exists a Thai-town in Macau , this restaurant had inexpensive , amazing , eats , prepared by a crew of authentic Thais. Sa-wat-dee! We were exhausted from wandering around town by this point . It was amazing to simply sit in air-conditioning, eat spicy food , and drink Beer Chang with Thai condensed milk coffee.

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There are also ample opportunities for grabbing fresh veggies. Also , check out that behemoth winter squash!

Yummy!

Turkey Day

Was Thanksgiving Day at Boxing Cat Brewery worth the 400 rmb?

Yes. yes it was.

Staff handled things really well , the interior ambiance was great ( love that fireplace) , we had little candles burning on every table , and most importantly there was tons of amazing food with free flow microbrews , wine , and spirits.

Highlights of the meal include: apple granola cobbler , pumpkin pie , bourbon cranberry compote (best cranberries of my life and I love cranberries) and of course the mash and turkey. I’m so happy the food was spot on American Thanksgiving.

Ah Shanghai! I’m thankful for you ( just not for my landlord).

Hong Kong Foods – Round Two!

Man , Cantonese fair won my heart over while in Hong Kong!
Be jealous everyone!

Hong Kong – Food N’ Drink

I’m working on the write-ups! I swear! Things are just busy right getting back into the swing of the work schedule and the home-living chores needed to keep the cockroaches away. I’ll distract you with some pics of eating and drankin in HK. We didn’t have much time and ,dang, Hong Kong restaurants are expensive compared to Shanghai. Just wait for the Vietnam eating pics!

Fragrant Pan / Savory Pot

One great thing about living in a huge megalopolis is the amount of food needed to sustain the population. In a one block radius around my apartment the number of restaurants is on an order of magnitude higher than my college town and my parents suburban town put together. Not only the numbers of restaurants but also the range of different foods is fantastic. This is fine with me.

I’ve been thoroughly converted from a Western diet to an Oriental one. Back in my college town I was starved for good quality food. That “food” on campus was not cutting it. When the chance to visit a restaurant came up, my circle of friends and I would always head out to an Asian restaurant. Drive 50 minutes to get to the good Indian place? Sure! Half an hour to the authentic Korean restaurant , we’re down! Skip the burger and fries at Denny’s , give us Kimchi and Aloo Gobi!

Let me show you what I had for breakfast this fine Saturday.

Jealous?

Let me introduce you to a new-found favorite.

香锅 aka Fragrant Pan , Savory Pot , something like that. Translation can be a pain. Xiang guo sounds right in Chinese just awkward putting it into English.

Nestled in the basement of the SML (Sun Moon Light) shopping center where a previous post talked about the Taiwanese vegan restaurant are a ton of different Fragrant Pan restaurants. The competition is fierce right now with nearly every restaurant offering a 15% or 20% discount. The one Savory Pot that didn’t engage in the cut-throat price slashing was dead.

These restaurants have fresh ingredients sitting out buffet-style and it’s up to the customer to choose what things get cooked up. There are 4 different “zones” . A Zone has cheap, green , leafy vegetables going for 1rmb/ 50 grams . B Zone features slightly more expensive non-meat things such as mushrooms , tofu products , sliced lotus root , and others. C Zone moves onto different meats at 4rmb / 50 grams , and the final D Zone has shrimp , octopus , pigeon eggs, and other treats for around 6 rmb/ 50g.

Point at your favorite things , choose a spice level , and grab a seat. You are minutes away from a feast. A very affordable feast at that. How much could this giant bowl of lotus root , tofu , spinach , cabbage , shrimp, 2 types of mushrooms , dried yellow bean strips , cucumber , rice cakes, potatoes ,and winter melon cost? Try 66 rmb (Just a tad of $10) oh yea plus 3 bowls of rice and 3 free soft drinks. Could 3 people finish it? Nope.

This is one of the reasons I love China.

Taiwan 7 Brother – Vegan Food!

While people here in China eat plenty of veggies and eat fairly well health-wise (barely any fatties here ) , it can be tough to be a vegetarian. While ordering tofu sounds like a good choice for the vegetable-oriented among us , keep in mind that small bits of pork and beef are almost certain to be included. Stir-fried spinach sounds good? Yes , but only if you like the small dried shrimp that comes with it. And to make matters worse pretty much all the meals you can get at a restaurant are bound to be cooked in oil that was used to cook meat , or the wok wasn’t cleaned off and animal oils abound in it.  Animal rights aren’t so hot here and people making the choice to not eat animals are pretty much limited to the Buddhist monks eating at their temples.

This may make matters tough for vegans/vegetarians planning on moving to or traveling in China. However , besides home-cooked options , there are a growing number of options available. Like I mentioned earlier , Buddhist temples are a sure-fire way of getting cheap , delicious, vegetarian fare but we have other places as well.

One of these places , recently discovered by me after a mention in That’s Shanghai , is Taiwan 7 Brother . Ohhh man is it good! The menu features a lot of veggie products designed to resemble meat and trick the eater into believing its  meat, inda like Morning Star veggie bacon and spare ribs,  as well as the just straight these are super tasty veggies enjoy dishes.

I sucked down the Spicy Numbing Tofu with fake pork , eggplant with pepper and carrot , and the amazing , thick , Shepard’s Herb ( Not exactly sure what that is ) Soup. The three dishes plus two bowls of rice hit the wallet for 60rmb (~$9.50) and was plenty to stuff two people . It’s a great find for those vegetarians , people who like good food , and people who are looking for healthy dining options ( the food was not loaded with oil like many restaurants here are known for doing ) .

Taiwan 7 Brother can be found at Dapuqiao Line 9 Metro Station’s SML basement found court. It’s tucked away near entrance #2 in the newly opened Taiwan Food Town near the 7/11 . Happy Eatings! (And be jealous all my Ohioan friends , mwhaha!)

Oh , and also in case you were wondering about the name. 7 and older brother are said  qi and ge , respectively.  Qige sounds like Vegan . Taa – daa!

Doing my Service for the Expat Community

Yesterday , on what just happened to be my big 2 years in Shanghai, I got the chance to take a bullet for the team , to do my service for all you expats here. It was a serious matter , one of life and death. A good many of you know what I’m talking about here. Too lazy to get off your couch and turn off the dvd player with pirated dvd inside , with the prospect of starvation and actually getting up quickly arising ,  who ya gonna call? Sherpas!

As a foreigner living in Shanghai you will quickly learn about the food delivery company Sherpas. They work with tons of different restaurants throughout the city . You can pick up one of their menu’s and choose from the world’s cuisines and have it delivered right to your door. Awesome.

Anyway, there was a new Italian restaurant to be tested and judged to see if it was worthy of working with the orange and black clad motorbike warriors.  My one friend who would normally be in charge of that was in Beijing on business . So I bit the bullet and the crack taste testing team was formed!

The dangers were many and I was fraught with many uncertainties as well as a long and arduous journey. I faced insane taxi drivers speeding through the city , had to make a long journey to a place called Pudong (Where is this place? Why is it so high-tech?)  , fought through the metro tunnels during rush hour (braving broken bones and crushed limbs) , and then had to deal with the risk of hot melted cheese burns , death by pasta , and perhaps even food poisoning. I did my service to all of you!!!

Haha , the restaurant was super awesome and if you glance at a Sherpa’s menu in the future and see Acqua e Farina listed , you’re welcome.

(Alternately just go to Room 2 in the Basement of Shanghai One at 1138 South Pudong Rd. It’s really good and pretty reasonably priced.)

 

Remember Yo’ Roots

Since I’ve come to China I haven’t eaten very many packaged foods. A trip to the grocery store involves buying fresh veggies, fruit, and sometimes meat which is then cooked up and served that day. I don’t often buy cookies , cakes, candy , and such things like that. I’m not a fan of packaged foods in general and I also just really don’t like many Chinese packaged foods. For another post I will round-up my go-to’s if I want a snack.

There are times though when I miss some good ole’ American snacks. Goldfish , pretzels, dried cranberries , granola, the list can go on.I absolutely love Asian cuisine but remember your roots! It’s good every once in a while to pay that extra cash and indulgence in some old favorites. I’ve been really wanting to eat some goldfish lately but Carrefour doesn’t have the original flavor in stock. Screw the marshmallow flavor crap , I want that cheddar cheese!

Occasionally there will be the food splurge but more often I’ll get some nice imported beers and I must always have a nice coffee selection!

Ohhh craft brew how I miss you so!

Nanjing!

Took last Friday off and went on a little trip to Nanjing for a three-day work/pleasure trip (Dec 2-5th). The work factor was a trip to the Chinese police station there to apply for a passport for my girlfriend and the rest was all sightseeing and relaxing.

Nanjing is a cultural/historical city with many attractions. Nanjing has served as the capital of China for several different dynasties and was most recently the capital under the KMT (Kuomintang) from 1927-1949 when the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) kicked them out and the KMT went running towards Taiwan. Beijing , the current capital of China, means northern capital and Nanjing means southern capital.

It’s incredible what a little change in perspective can bring. Before, I would have marvelled at the big city , would have been like a little fly attracted to the lights , but after a year in Shanghai , Nanjing felt like a small town. A small town with half the population of my native Ohio and probably more skyscrapers than all of Ohio’s cities combined felt small to me , hahaha.

Only 2 subway lines?!?! C’mon Nanjing! Ahh ,NJ don’t worry I love you.

The newer CRH (bullet) trains linking Shanghai and Jiangsu province cities make travel to Nanjing a breeze. Hop on the train in Shanghai,  1 hour and 40 minutes later depart at Nanjing. Recline in the comfy chairs , read a book, and hurdle through the countryside at 300km/h (182mph). Back in Ohio , I could drive a car and make it from Cleveland to Columbus in 3-4 hours , in China I can hop a train , read, relax, take my eyes off the road/track , and travel a greater distance in a faster time for less money. Nice.

Day 1

An early wake-up and a trip to Aimee’s former University to get a copy of her Hukou (Chinese city residency card). Then off to the Exit/Entry administration to fill out paperwork , take photos, and send off the application for a passport. A bit of a hassle to travel back to your Hukou city but takes much less time and is considerably cheaper than U.S citizens receiving their U.S passports. American passports cost $120 or so and take about 3 months to get it after mailing off the application. For China the turnaround time is a mere 2 weeks and only costs 200rmb ($30.76).

After completing the paperwork a few minutes before the lunch break closing time, it was time for some food of our own. On the way to the Exit/Entry Administration , I saw a restaurant that I absolutely had to eat at.  Outside was a big sign with a cartoon drawing of a big , dumb , goofy looking , jackass. Not you JefeLats but a donkey! Donkey meat restaurant! I have not had the pleasure of dining at a donkey meat establishment and took the opportunity to do so.

The dining room was loaded with slogans painted on the wall extolling the virtues of donkey meat and it’s ability to give humans a long life. Cool, I’m down. The owner of the store seemed pretty impressed by me and came over with a free plate of cold donkey cuts with a homemade chili sauce for us. Both amazing! I don’t many foreigners come to this place as all the cooks emerged from the kitchen to see the weird donkey eating white guy. We paid for a donkey soup that was also fantastic. If you ever get the chance give it a try! Not the cheapest Chinese meal tipping the scale at $15 for 2 people. Pricey!

After imbibing in the life-giving donkey flesh it was off to visit Aimee’s old dormitory. She was a lucky one with only herself and 3 roomies in a room. It’s common for Chinese students to be jammed 6, 8, 12 into one small room. No private space at all. Kinda makes one feel bad if they complained about their one roommate. Imagine compatibility issues with 11 other people! Chinese college life is so much different from American college life.

Her university , Nanjing Medical University, is located right in the heart of the city and the trendy shopping, tall buildings , bar district, XinJieKou,  is within easy walking distance. We wandered around the big buildings , looked at Gucci bags within the store windows (gotta get me one of those!) , and found a cool knock-off clothes store. Fake Abercrombie for $18 a shirt. I don’t care about the brand name but the winter flannels with hoods were high-quality and good price. Feels good to get some warm clothes with winter fast approaching. Next we found a bus to take us to the Confucius temple.

There is nothing Confucian about the temple. Nothing really templely about it either. It’s instead a massive shopping complex located in a built to resemble the old . Old (looking) hewn stone streets and low laying buildings house huge area where everything is for sale. Clothes, shoes , animals , cheesy souvenirs, live animals. Name it and they have it. There are also many restaurants and food stores featuring Nanjing specialties. Dead salted ducks complete with heads are hanging up everywhere! We stopped for some tasty hot-pot in the area. Nothing like sitting around a pot of broiling broth to beat away the cold. Surprising how much meat , veggies, and beer can be had for $10 in some parts of the world.

I highly recommend visiting the Confucius temple at night to see the vast array of lights. The entire complex is strung with color changing , glowing , trippy, neon lights. Even the boats on the Qinghuai river have neon outlines! A pretty crazy light mural with 2 dragons fighting can also be found here. Don’t worry , I have pictures! A short bus ride back to the hostel , a hot shower in an unheated room , and bedtime.

Day 2

Going to keep with the strange and unusual new foods theme so day #2’s breakfast was noodles , bok choy , and oil-fried pig skin. The skin is a bit weird in consistency but tastes like meat. Not something I would get everyday but every once in a while is fine by me.

The plan for Saturday was take a trip out to the Purple Gold mountains on the outskirts of Nanjing but on the way we made a long stop at Zhonghua Men (China Gate). Part of the Ming built city defensive walls still stand today. Coming to the gate from the south really gives a sense of how hard it would be to attack in ancient times. First the city is bordered on the South by the Qinghuai river and secondly if invaders could make it past the river they face a massive stone wall with archers and swarms of troops.

The warriors are gone today but 35rmb will let you climb the wall and walk along the fortification. The southern and eastern parts of the wall remain and you can stroll along for a good hour or so. It appears as if the western section is currently under renovation. We just walked the wall for a good while but bike rentals for riding on the top of the wall are available at Zhonghua Men.

The city walls remind me of the Ming sections of the Great Wall and are worth checking out.

Next finally onto the massive Purple Gold Mountain park. One can easily spend an entire day here checking out the different sites. Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s mausoleum is here , Ming dynasty tombs, the tomb of Sun Quan , along with the area’s stunning natural scenery.

We opted to take the 35rmb cable car up to the top. ( My first time doing this!! I usually shun the lazy.) We took the cable car to catch the awesome views. You get a little bit of elevation and as the car gains height the forest scenery gets better and better , looking back one can also see the city rising up from behind the forest. We picked an excellent time to visit here as the autumnal forest colors were amazing. Reminds me of fall back in Ohio(without the skyscrapers in the background).

After disembarking on the peak we started to make our way down the mountain. Somehow we managed to make our way to the shimmering Purple Glow lake. Absolutely beautiful there and at the same time hilarious. Several big signs lay along with lake forbidding swimming while simultaneously there are several old people swimming laps across the lake (yes even on December 3rd!) From here we managed to find our way to the Ming tombs. We were able to come through a back way that involved lots of walking and we dodged the front ticket booths. 70rmb each person to the tombs ? Nahh, free is more like it.

Skipping out on the touts trying to hustle a quick buck we hopped on the bus back to the city. We wanted to go check out Nanjing’s 1912 bar district. It’s like a little trendy Shanghai XinTianDi. But first it was dinner time!

Continuing with the unusual foods we had chicken juice dumplings and a bizarre alternate reality duck noodle soup , quite unlike those consumed when sick as little kid. Duck meat , ok a little different from chicken , noodles , congealed duck blood , liver , intestine , and a little bit of coriander. Huh?? Contrary to what you what believe the blood is pretty good , has a taste quite similar to the meat , the intestine is good though a bit chewy , and yuck I hate liver. The key to eating these things if you aren’t used to them is to not think about what you are eating. Don’t ponder on the fact that it’s blood but merely enjoy the taste. Props to my visiting friends who sampled the pig brains with me! A-Rat and W-dawg you rule!

After dinner and the bus to 1912 , we found the bustling bar district a bit too loud for our tastes. We couldn’t find a bar with seating and some were blaring some pretty shit music. Oh well , 3 rmb beers from the convenient store is a bit more economical anyways.

Day 3

The time always passes so fast. No matter if I make a mini 3 day trip or a 2 month-long excursion it’s always over so fast. Day 3 was a mission to see the other historical aspects of Nanjing we had passed by.

First stop was the incredibly well-done Nanjing Massacre Memorial. In 1937 Japanese forces invaded Nanjing and did some pretty horrible things to the civilian population , leaving behind around 300,000 dead bodies. Some pretty atrocious events occurred : rape , murder , bayonets into pregnant women’s bellies , nails into the head, severely fucked up shit. The memorial is very somber and moving. Hard to keep tears from welling up when faced with the ugly aspects of humanity.

What I really liked about the memorial was it called for peace. The memorial didn’t call for revenge against the Japanese but instead for friendship and unity. Some Chinese are really racist against the Japanese but the memorial didn’t bring up any of that. Several of the displays inside the museum were built with Japanese/ Chinese cooperation and Japanese donated lots of money for the memorial. This is a must do in Nanjing.

After  we went to find the former Presidential Palace of the Chinese Republic. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s (first president of the Republic of China after the last of the dynasties was deposed) former living quarters were here , one can wander around the former governmental offices , and relax in the peaceful gardens. Several interesting artifacts from the former government are exhibited here including; Sun Yat-Sen’s clothes , translation journals , telegraphs , typewriters ,etc. I especially enjoyed the gardens within the Palatial grounds. Man, I wish I lived in a place like that.

The gift shop had an amazing collection of crazy Chinglish souvenirs. Obama bag with the “Obamao” print and the words No Money No Face , an Osama Bin-Laden “God is just a Legend” , and the best , a big that says “I weaves the sweater for my fucking lover”. Wow! Check my pics , no kidding!

Now our time was getting short so we headed off to buy another of those fake Abercrombie shirts , grab our luggage , and make it to the northern train station. This train station is one of my favorites in China due to its promixity to Xuanwu lake. Instead of waiting inside the lobby it’s possible to go outside and enjoy the lake vista. The view across the lake gives a good look at modern Nanjing. Tall multi-colored buildings compose the cool looking skyline. (Though can’t touch Pudong!) 1 hour and 50 minutes back to Shanghai and then on a bus back to my pad. Weekend terminated.

I will definitely be making a return trip to Nanjing to catch a few more sites and make my way to the highly recommended TangShan hot springs resort. We initially planned to relax there for a day but unforseen events kept that from happening. Tangshan is my excuse to come back!

Some other observations about Nanjing:

Actually a fair amount of graffiti. Didn’t find a legal spot like Shanghai’s Moganshan lu but there are a lot of bombs ( quick tags) and signatures up from a few writers all over the city.

Nanjing metro has 2 lines and ranges from 2-3-4 rmb. Compared to Shanghai’s starting at 3 and going up to 10rmb.

Nanjing metro also uses a token system opposed to Beijing and Shanghai’s ticket systems.

There are some foreign students and a few tourists in Nanjing but nowhere near that of Beijing and Shanghai. Hence the amount of attention one can receive is much greater. No one asked for my picture but we did draw lots of stares and some comments from the locals.

Nanjing has awesome wide, old-tree lined, streets. Reminds me of SH french concession area.

Many Chinese cities have the same street names and in Nj HuaiHai lu was a shopping street just like in SH.

Nanjing has a much more ancient feel than Shanghai in general.

The local beer Jinling isn’t that good. Very watery and not strong at all. Stick to Tsingtao.

The go-to convenient store chain is Suguo. This isn’t in Shanghai and the Shanghai convenient stores are absent in Nanjing.

Alrighty that’s all I can think of for now. Enjoy some pics!

 

 

 

Beijing Summer 2011! (Part 1)

Alright everyone back on track! I know everyone (all 3 of you) were going through withdrawal , sitting around feeling cold then hot then cold and all sweaty all the time. But fear not! I am back with yer fix!

We pulled up to Beijing West Train station after the lovely soft sleeper class , curse you parents! , now I always want to take soft sleeper!, and my parents got to experience a great example of the “lining up system”, queueing for you redcoats out there. Notice the “lining up” is in quotation marks. Here in China lining up means a vastly different thing. It means stand in a general mass of people all striving and pushing forward at the same time. Don’t worry if there isn’t any room in front of you! Space will be made by simply shoving into the already immobilized crowd. This does actually happen, however, it wasn’t quite that bad here in the train station. We were waiting in the taxi queue to make the journey across the city , unfortunately Beijing West Station is quite far from the metro and the parents don’t travel backpacker style., and man that 1.5 hour wait sucked. We had to constantly pay attention and fend for ourselves to stop those old ladies from shoving ahead and cutting in line. My Pops got his technique down , simply use your suitcase shoved against the railing to create an impasse and stop the cutting. We still had a bunch of people get ahead of us somehow but whatever.

Another great hostel recommendation I have for y’all is the 9 Dragons Hostel near the ZhangziZhongLu Metro station. This awesome little hostel is tucked into one of the traditional , but rapidly disappearing , Hutong neighborhoods. This means traditional alleyways, no tall skyscrapers, more community life, and a taste of the old times. Some of the Hutong houses don’t have bathrooms inside and residents go to a public neighborhood toilet for taking care of business and showering. An elementary school is nearby the hostel and so returning to the hostel in the afternoon or venturing out in the morning you can witness all the parents waiting for the horde of students emerge from the building or saying farewell and starting the day. The hostel has three floors and a great balcony to relax with a beer and watch the neighborhood cats leap from roof to roof.

After depositing our things it was time to venture off into the city! We went out to start being Beijing tourists with the standard Tiananmen Square , adjacent Palace Museum and a walk to the nearby Wangfujing street. Upon arrival at Tiananmen (well actually upon arrival in the city) we noticed a disgusting amount of air pollution. From the time I visited in 2007 to now the air quality has always seemed to get better but today was an exception. The smog was thick and choking , nasty! Moving on, Tiananmen is massively big , one of the largest public squares in the world , it can fit around one million people. I’ve been there quite a few times now , maybe even 10, and the enormity of it has since ceased to amaze me as much as the first time but I will tell you it is mind-boggling at first sight. Tiananmen is the heart of it all featuring: the Monument to the People’s Heroes, the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China (dedicated to Chinese history predating 1919). The square is under heavy security , one must pass through checks to enter the square, and has many police, uniformed as well as undercover. Leaving the square we walked to the gates of the Forbidden City.

Built between the years 1405 and 1420 this massive imperial complex is known as the Forbidden City because for nearly 500 years the public was not allowed inside. The Emperors ruled China from inside and very few were admitted entrance. Today is it the largest remaining palatial complex in the world. (China boasts many of the biggest and best historical as well as modern structures). This is a must go if in Beijing. It’s fantastic to be able to get a grasp of history by visiting and the architecture and interior design is befitting of an emperor. Walking through the entire structure we emerged from the opposite gate and took a long walk along the surrounding moat until we returned to Chang’An Rd and then cut into Wangfujing Street. If you have the time make sure to go up in Jinshan park (golden mountain park) and climb the to the tallest park , you will be rewarded with an amazing view over the imperial city and its glittering golden rooftops! By the time we had arrived at Wangfujing the skies turned fierce-looking with intense storm clouds rolling in.

Wangfujing is a giant pedestrian shopping street but I did not come for the shopping. I came for the food street!!!! The parents wisely bought a set of umbrellas before we ducked down the alley to the food street and boy were they glad they did! This food street is loaded with various restaurants , all sorts of food, and creepy crawlies on sticks! The food street is perhaps best known for its starfish , scorpions , and seahorses (all still wriggling and alive skewered on sticks) waiting for you to purchase and consume. We decided not to stick to the outdoor seating, as by this time the skies had unleashed a deluge of rain, in fact as we found out later these rains caused the heaviest flooding in Beijing in decades! We found a great restaurant that had the best 番茄鸡蛋 ,tomatoes and eggs of my life. This is a simple dish with eggs tomatoes and sauce but when made right man it is great! When the rain finally subsided we went back to the hostel and called it an early night.

The next day we went on a Great Wall tour offered by our hostel. Normally I’m not a fan of the tour package but the hostel does a great job with it. We went off to a section of the Great Wall that has a giant sign saying “section closed to the public” our guide laughed and said don’t worry the villagers all encourage tourists to come here ( as it supports the local economy) and saying that it’s just an edict issued by the party that gets conveniently ignored. Nice! I highly recommend you make it out to one of the non restored, less visited sections of the wall. For example, avoid Badaling at all costs, this section of the wall is easily accessed via metro and is completely restored , packed with people , and with the people come the super annoying vendors. Take the effort to get away from that and you will be rewarded. The only souls we ran into that day on the wall was a group of Americans who miserably camped out on the wall the last night in the heavy rain but who were in good spirits when we arrived. They said they would have offered us beer but they drank it all the last night due to low morale issues , I completely understood. Like I mentioned before, the Great Wall continues to astound me every time I see it even after 8 or so times at various sections. An absolute must see! Which makes me feed bad my good dawg Linda G didn’t make it here when we were in Beijing last summer. Come again aye Lindsay?? After arriving back in the town I took the family to see the very nice HouHai park. It is also located near to the Imperial palace. It is part of a chain of three connected lakes and parks but this part is the cool hip area with many bars (expensive), awesome outdoor seating on couches near the lake , and cool light shows in the trees. An excellent way to idle away the time on a nice weather night. After all the walking my parents were exhausted and went back to sleep. I on the other hand hit up the hostel bar for a while and met some cool travelers.

Day three featured a trip to the Summer Palace , a visit to the Beijing Zoo,  and finally a stroll through the Olympic venue of 2008. The Summer palace lies in one of the Western suburbs of Beijing , easily accessible by metro. Now last year when I visited there was no metro station there, yay for development! The park’s history stretches back to the year 1750 when the massive Kunming lake was dug out entirely by hand! Yikes , when an emperor wants something done it gets done , kinda like the communist party of China today. This palace resort served as a summer getaway for the rulers of the land and features impressive gardens , boating on the artificial lake, and many laid back palatial buildings. This park is truly huge stretching out about 2.9 sq. kilometers. This park was also destroyed two times in its history , both times by an invading alliance of Western powers. Thankfully it was rebuilt both times so we can continue to enjoy it today.

Now next stop is the Beijing Zoo. It’s a pretty decent place , although living conditions for the animals aren’t quite what we are used to back at home , especially not when we have the excellent Cleveland Zoo  and I’ve visited the world-famous San Diego Zoo , but hey its a good for a visit. As expected in China its all about the pandas. They are panda crazy over here. Not much really to say about the zoo with the exception that canals run through the zoo and you can take a really fast speedboat through the canals and hit massive wakes. I’ve never seen such a thing at a zoo before. Can’t say I agree with a zoo having roaring load boats in the zoo but hell it does look really fun. After the zoo we were on a mission to find one of my favorite restaurants. I discovered this Yunnan restaurant last summer with Linda G and proceeded to eat there 3 times in 5 or so nights. Soooo good! Spicy, exotic (roots and fried flowers) and has the great Dali beer. I was soo happy to discover this place still existed. It also seemed fitting to eat some Yunnan food as I would be flying to Yunnan in a few days woo hoo!

Last stop of the day is to walk the Olympic greens. I visited Beijing before the Olympics of 2008 and after and I can’t believe how much the city has changed.  The entire Olympic area was built for the games , there was no pre-existing infrastructure and wow is it huge. Some of the stand out buildings include the Swimming Center and the Bird’s Nest Stadium. I’m really happy that three years later the venue is packed. At night-time there were tons of people ; domestic tourists , foreign tourists , and plenty of locals there. The locals use the area as a huge public place to dance , work-out , Rollerblade , fly kites , and just hang out. I’m glad this massive area wasn’t erected and then forgotten about doomed to collect dust and slowly fall apart.

Alright that’s it , I’m done. Beijing is being split up into a two-part series. Still a few days left over and I’m tired of writing after so many words. You may have noticed the amount of detail drop as this piece has dragged on haha Peace out enjoy the photos!