Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Let the Food Fest Begin!

Good Morning! Zao shang hao!

Too tired last night to finish editinig my photos much less make a second post about the adventure after the game today. The "jet lag hour" is getting later and later, and that is good. This morning it was at 5AM, rather than 2 or 3. (the time my body says "Hey - you should be up!")

After the game yesterday we went to the Forbidden City/Tianamen Square area. It was something that has to be seen to be believed. Building is going on everywhere in the city. Apartment buildings are being built at an unbelievable rate. We commented that if there were the same number of apartment buildings along the freeways in Houston or Chicago, the freeways would have to be 20 lanes wide to accommodate all the people. The bicycle lanes are like their own little super highways, a full lane wide rather than the skinny little paths we have along just a few roads. They have bike lanes everywhere.

The buildings here are very different that in the US as well. Where we have tall buildings in large cities, here there are large wide buildings, usually not more than about 20 stories tall. But they are very expansive! And the architectural details are so cool and unusual. Most buildings in the US, even though they might look beautiful to us, they are just kind of functional looking compared to the buildings here. The slideshow for this adventure shows some of the buildings we saw. The National Theater was very cool, looking like a huge silver bean surrounded by water. Water seems to be a very important element in the area surrounding buildings as well.

Tianamen Square is just absolutely huge! There are gardens all around commemorating the Olympics that I suspect are very new. In fact our translator was commenting that many parts were not even there two weeks ago. But in walking around I can not help but remember the picture of the lone student standing up to the tanks in the demonstrations that took place back in 1989. Again, pictures never do a place like this justice in conveying just how huge the square is. Think something along the lines of 10 football fields big!

We also tried to go to the Forbidden City but did not get there in time to go inside. They stop selling tickets at 4 PM and we walked a bit too slow! But we still got to walk around on the grounds a bit and see the older buildings that were built around the imperial palace over 600 years ago. Small details like the number of door nails and characters on the roof indicate the status of the resident. The more characters or door nails, the wealthier or higher in status they are. I think most of us would only have 1 door nail and maybe one roof character!

After all that, we headed onto the subway for a quick trip to the heart of Beijing. The subway was so crowded the only phrase that came to mind was "sardines in a can". We walked around the center a bit then headed to a famous restaurant for the signature dish of the city "Peking Duck". The restaurant requires no reservations, and when we got there it was evident why - it is 5 floors of seating, and the tables are spaced nicely apart, not crammed together like many restaurants here in the states. This was the start of the "Food Fest". Through our translators we ordered a number of appetizer type dishes (I think 10-15 different kinds) and then 2 ducks for the 11 of us - 9 plus translators.

Well - the cars are here so I will finish later.

1 comment:

Prairie Dogg said...

If you guys are looking for some good local eats while you're in town, check out Yunnan or traditional vegetarian cuisine. You can see some good examples of these and other great Chinese cuisines at my website, chinabites.com.