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2010 (old posts, page 3)

Sunday at Beihai Park and Back Lakes

We had a great day of exploring today around Beihai Park and the Back Lakes in Beijing. We walked the city all day, working our way from Wangfujing past Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City (past all the tour guides and art students), turning toward and then on through Beihai Park (much more serene) and onward through the Back Lakes. We covered big roads, small hutongs and peaceful parks and although cold outside it's felt great to get some exercise.

We sat down twice. Once for lunch (pork and egg on rice, chicken in spice sweet sauce, both good) and once again to enjoy the sport I can only describe as 'ice chair skating'. Two persons to 'cart', two sharp metal poles each, and a good upper body workout is guaranteed. Great fun!

Beihai Park and Back Lakes photos

Ice chair skating

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A wealth of new foods at the Chinese supermarket

Our apartment building runs a daily shuttle to the Carrefour Supermarket in Beijing which is convenient. We made the trip to get some groceries, a SIM card, and some other items for around the apartment. The sights, sounds, colors, smells and unfamiliar foods are quite overwhelming. Supermarket shopping hasn't been that interesting in years!

Carrefour trip photos

Origin, purpose unknown

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Chinese food, week one

It's been an interesting week of new cuisine. I think I've tried everything that's come my way and the stomach still seems to be holding up OK. Some of the notables include roast duck (very rich and tasty), deep fried chicken cartilage (interesting texture), steamed dumplings (tasty but pushed chopstick skills to the limit), pork rib bites with gristle in sweet sauce, sticky buns for breakfast, noodles and bok choy in the morning.

On the western front, I gave my stomach a rest with McDonalds (didn't think I'd ever say that) and a celebration at a Brazilian/Latin grill. The western-style restaurant at work has some familiar components but I don't know the shorter English name for the dish I would describe as 'cajun breaded pork cut served in a sizzling fajita dish with rice topped with egg'. I have found the Starbucks machine in the office, the tea in the cooler and am thoroughly enjoying the daily fruit service.

I am told I'll need to recalibrate my spicy scale on Monday when we go out for Sìchuān-style food.

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Daily photo: Beijing Da Dong Roast Duck

As an excellent way to wrap up our first week in China we shared a fine meal of roast duck (for which Beijing is famous) with some coworkers this evening. Very tasty.

Beijing Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant

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Daily photo: A clear sunrise

It's amazing what an overnight wind can do. It swept in last night and we awoke to much clearer skies and a view of buildings in the distance that had previously be enshrouded in haze.

Early morning in Beijing

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Commuting on the Beijing subway

The ride to work is a little more intense than the Metro bus I'd been taking from Seattle. As the subway stops are conveniently located both near where we live and my office there's not a lot of travel time on each end. That's a bonus since apparently we arrived during a warm spell and it's now starting to get back to being just really cold. The trains run every few minutes and during commute times are absolutely packed; indeed it's almost as though the frequency is tuned to run at something close to 100% capacity. Everyone seems to get onto the next train they're waiting for although for the 30 minute ride there isn't an inch on board going to waste. There's no need to hold a handrail as friction with other passengers keeps everyone upright.

I hear the buses are even busier but I think we'll need a little more courage (and improved sense of direction) before embracing that next step.

Busy Beijing subway

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