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Asia eats, china eats

beijing day 3: silk, busy streets, more pagodas

Our breakfast Sunday morning was pretty much the same menu as the day before. Salad, various breads, fruit, eggs, Chinese veggies, stir fry, eggs… And dimsum. Lots of dimsum. Pretty dimsum, too.

the resemblance is striking

red bean innards

The first stop after our hotel breakfast was the Summer Palace. We couldn’t see the famous round, pagoda-y building across the man-made lake because of the fog, but we were able to enjoy some GINORMOUS lotus leaves. These were literally the size of manhole covers.

giant lotus leaves. with a palace building in the background.

Immediately following our tour of the Summer Palace, we were taken to a silk factory. We got to see dead silkworm cocoons being harvested for their silk – it was actually pretty cool to see how the cocoons were stretched into a cloth. It’s amazing how durable those wee bits of fluff are.

cocoons are first soaked, the larvae are removed, then the white bits are spread layer by layer into semi-circles of fluff

the semi-circles are then pulled expertly into silk sheets

our tour guide expounding on the wonders of silk sheets

my family rolling on the lovely, silken sheets

Each family ended up taking at least 2 sets of silk sheets home; I was amazed at some of the marketing ploys these Chinese people used. But I heard that if you had to get only one thing in China, it should be legit silk sheets. So I guess it’s alright.

Afterwards we were to a pearl factory – more shiny, sparkly orbs. I didn’t take any pictures though, because I was scared that the salespeople would swoop down, swinging their long strings of pearls at me. I be scurred of Chinese salespeople.

Afterwards, we were taken to a North Korean restaurant for lunch.

one of the most popular korean restaurants in china

It was actually a legit, North Korean restaurant – the entire place is run by the North Korean government. Most of the food that’s not prepared on-site is actually shipped over from PyongYang, and all of the waitresses and chefs are from North Korea. The place was pretty intense – you weren’t even allowed to say Kim JongIl’s name in here o_O.

But the food was still great. Here are just some of the side dishes we were served:

north korean version of japchae - it's make with mook

kimchi-styled pickled fish

We were also provided with some good, old-fashioned, North Korean entertainment.

hanbok-wearing, trot-singing, entertainers

But the star of the meal was the PyongYang style nengmyun:

northern style moolnengmyun


Although unorthodox, it was still pretty darn good.

After our lunch, we went to a Chinese medicinal treatment place. You might think of sketchy, dinghy rooms with little old men grinding up newt eyeballs, but this place was actually legit. It wasn’t even a hospital, but more of a therapeutic treatment kind of building. Everything was squeaky clean and everyone was wearing white hospital robes, although there wasn’t a single whiff of the hospital smell. Every single one of us actually got evaluated by the Chinese doctors; it was amazing how much they knew about your health by just looking at the color of you skin, your eyes, your tongue, and by feeling your pulse and your body temperature. Their nurses translated everything they said into Korean – apparently I have hot blood, so I should avoid fried foods, spicy foods, and alcohol. -o-?

Once again, I wasn’t allowed to take pictures, so no photos of the Chinese -medicine therapy place :(. I’m just as scared of Chinese doctors as I am of Chinese salespeople.

Then we headed for the Heavenly Temple, where the ancient Chinese dynasties held rituals for the coming of rain. On our way there, we passed by the Bird’s Nest. I thought we’d at least stop by, but apparently it hasn’t been used very often after the 2008 Summer Olympics – if anything, it’s more of a tourist attraction. Somewhat unglamorous for the place where world records were broken and medals were won.

tour guide: 'blahblahblah, blah, blahblah, and there's the bird's nest... blahblaaaahblah blah..'

Once we got to the Heavenly Temple, we toured each of the 4 buildings on the northern, eastern, southern, and western sides of the courtyard where we read about the rain ceremonies. I’ll just summarize it for you guys by saying it was a long, complicated process involving the slaughter of many innocent animals and the raising of many old scrolls.

courtyard of rain dancing. or something like that.

Then we headed to the more rural part of China, which we toured with these little bike-carts. It was manual labor, taken to the next level.

yes, i felt guilty riding in a cart being powered by a man's quadraceps.

Smelly and dirty, this was the place where Chinese people slept, ate, and hung out. And although there were some areas that were kind of sketchy, this is an old neighborhood, with old blood living here. Because there are so many important people (think senators and other government officials) living in this area, there are actually a lot of cops patrolling around here. So even if there a number of bars and clubs, no one actually gets drunk to the point of being wasted.

the street, it bustles.

busy on the water and on land

thanks to chinese vendors, obama is now communist

another street, filled with people

more weird food was sold: skewered cicadas and scorpions

After our ride through the streets of Beijing, we were taken to a dinner show.

dine first, enjoy the show later

It was a musicalish, play kind of thing – lots of gymnastics, gaudy costumes, and dancing. Think of it as a Chinese historical version of Nanta.

yes, the costumes were colorful indeed

Once the show was done, we were taken back to our hotels. I actually went to bed without doing any blogging because I needed to wake up at 2:30 AM for the World Cup finals (which didn’t end up being that great).

Whew. So there you go, my 3rd day in China. Just one more to go, and I’ll have everything from Beijing up!



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