Wednesday, August 1, 2007

10 Reasons We Heart China Slash We Finally Arrived

10. Cup of Noodles on the Flight Over

This blog is secretly (or, actually, openly) a food blog, and the fun got started not just in China but on the flight over. Instead of normal airline food, United made it thematic: Amy and I were served Cup of Noodles as our mid-flight meal. As in, we peeled the top half-way back, the flight attendants poured in boiling water, and we let it sit for four minutes. Hilarious start to our food-filled trip.

9. Popsicles

Before I (Amy) address popsicle culture, I’m going to have to correct the errors in Jon’s paragraph above. We were not on the same flight over, and I did not have Cup of Noodles. I think that covers it. Moving on.

Beijing is no San Francisco when it comes to summer weather. And by that I mean it is hot and I have been sweating more or less nonstop since arriving three days ago. Or two. I do not and will never understand the date line. Luckily there are popsicles everywhere. I dare you to find a place in Beijing (which is the largest most sprawling except not “sprawling” because it’s downtown everywhere city) where a popsicle is more than a few steps away. Strangely there are also street vendors everywhere, many without freezers, who carry boxes of frozen popsicles. I haven’t yet solved that mystery. Anyway, I love popsicles, and the flavor choices here are amazing, in an unidentifiable sort of way. I had what can only be described as a milk popsicle yesterday (delicious), Jon had a green pea popsicle (tasted as bad as it looked and sounds. He liked it, naturally.), I moved on to papaya this morning (seems breakfastish) and all of us had some post-FC (forbidden city, duh) that I think were sugar water flavor and cost ½ Mao each. Sorry I just wanted to work in that some small currency units are “maos.”

8. The Forbidden City

Like Beijing, also huge. Our guidebook recommended two full days to appreciate the Forbidden City fully; on Josh’s pace, we were able to fit two day’s worth into this afternoon. Above the entrance to the FC (the Gate of Heavenly Peace) is a giant portrait of Mao. Like all Communist leaders, he looks a little worn out. Once inside, the FC itself is a series of temples and rooms (no food) where the former Chinese emperors lived. Because we enjoy learning, we rented audio guides. As promised, the tours were narrated by Roger Moore some lady who, despite using “r” instead of “l”, taught us a lot of helpful information. China was liberated in 1949. The Boxer Rebellion was only “so-called,” and the Allied Forces used the fake uprising as an excuse to pillage gold from the FC. Most of the temples had fitting names: Hall of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Imperial Supremacy. Others were maybe a bit questionable: Hall of Medium Harmony, Hall of Abstinence (seriously).

After visiting the FC, we celebrated EB’s birthday at a delicious restaurant called The Courtyard. The food was unbelievable and we had a fabulous time (thank you Barbara!!). We particular enjoyed the way upscale restaurants in Asia (this was a first for Amy and me) imported certain aspects of American dining that didn’t quite fit – as Amy put it: “No, I don’t want cracked pepper on my tuna tartar.”

All around a wonderful dinner and a great way to celebrate EB’s 26th. We’ve pretty much convinced EB to have a destination birthday every year from now on.

7. Friendlies

The Friendlies are cartoon characters created for the Beijing 2008 Olympics. We love them. Google them and you’ll see why.

6. CCTV

China Central Television.” Also known as TVCC (you can figure out the abbreviation) and Beijing TV. The station hosts over 200 channels, and every show is an amazing celebration of China. “Preparations for the Beijing Olympics exceed expectations.” “Chinese economy booming.”

More importantly, though, EB skillfully arranged an incredible tour of the construction site for the new CCTV building. At first the four of us explored around the base of the site, some of us (EB) trying to learn more about the Chinese construction process: Q: “Do you have to use union labor?” A: “This is China. We’re all in the People’s Union.”

Having not sufficiently put our lives at risk, we hopped in an elevator from the base of the construction site to the 30th floor. We walked around for a bit, but the general consensus was “too safe.” So we climbed another ladder built out of piping to the 31st floor. Another consensus: “this floor is too stable and sturdy.” And we walked up another set of stairs to the 32nd floor where the floor, instead of concrete like the others, was made of mess wire and a steel plate.

The site was pretty incredible – being 200 meters (I don’t know how tall that is) in the air notwithstanding – and at least we were wearing hardhats.

1-5. Ok, here’s what happened: We (Amy) fell asleep and I (Jon) copied her and woke up this morning at 6.30am to go to the Park of the Heavenly Something or Other without having finished blogging. We’ll do the rest tomorrow.

7 comments:

CDB said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY EB LOVEYALOTS!

Kathleen said...

"Do you have to use union labor?" I nearly just fell out of my chair giggling. Happy birthday EBaline!!!

Ron said...

1. First, and MOST IMPORTANT, Happy Birthday EB - but by the time you get this, your birthday day is already over in China. We, however, are still continuing to celebrate this special day!!!
2. Please do not share tales of bungee jumping on construction sites with parental units.
3. Jon - how do those popsicles stack up against zmrzlina?
4. Temple of Abstinence?
5. Did you find the chamber pot of the little prince from the movie, The Last Emperor when visiting the FC.
6. Amy - you cannot be sweating more now than you did while slogging through the Bar exam.
7. Josh - yesterday the Yankees tried to score 26 runs in honor of EB's birthday but only got to 16. Sorry Jon, the Yanks beat up on Chicago.
8. Harry feels left out that he was not included in wishing EB a Happy Birthday - he sends you love.
9., 10. we all also send love and wish you continued fun - and no flight, bus, or other travel delays!!

Ali said...

yeh. Amy and Jon are in China too!!

Brian Kelly said...

just thought you should know i celebrated your birthday with two friends (and 50,000 strangers) screaming for a-rod to hit HR 500. The yanks hit 5 or 6 dingers tonight (after 8 last night) but none by the richest one and as they say, 3 billion chinese couldn't care less

happy happy! love dad

Alexandra said...

Love the friendlies, especially the panda. More importantly, google has brought to my attention the official olympic mascot from the '72 Munich games:

"Waldi", the dachshund. Very popular in Bavaria, but he also possesses qualities which are indispensable to an athlete: resistance, tenacity and agility. These are among the reasons he was chosen to be the mascot. He was dressed in pastel colors to express the gaiety and joy of the Olympic festival.

fishwatch said...

Is the starbucks in the forbidden city really gone? That was a delicious treat when I went back in '05...