I have arrived back in the States! Overall, I would rate the trip positively, though like an olive in a cupcake there were moments of unexpected misery amidst this otherwise frosty cakey treat. Stay tuned for those salty posts.
The highlights of any business trips are always been those moments when I can escape the overcast skies of meetings and engineering reviews to hang out with friends. In Beijing, the friends of choice are Charlotte and Josh.
Josh and Charlotte in Beijing
Charlotte and Josh both grew up in China so they speak great Mandarin and dig the Chinese culture. More importantly than all that, they are both truly wonderful people. I was first introduced to them through Mika who, incidentally, is moving back to Beijing this summer and will certainly find herself on my list of favorite people to visit while overseas.
The night before my flight to the states I met up with Charlotte and Josh and we made dumplings!
Oh the glory!
Charlotte taught me how to fold the dumplings her way (above), and Josh showed me his way (below), which he described as a much simpler technique used as a desperate means of trying to keep up with Charlotte’s expert speed.
The Josh Style Dumpling
Here’s my MSPaint representation of how to fold a dumpling.
How to fold a Dumpling
Special thanks to Charlotte and Josh for welcoming me during my trip.
Here’s an Animated Gif of Charlotte, Josh, as once again I setup my camera wrong with its delay setting.
Oh the joys of laughter!
The weather finally cleared a bit here in Wuhan so my coworker Bill and I ventured out to act as tourists while we wait patiently for our company meeting that has been delayed until Saturday.
On Thursday, we went to the Yellow Crane Tower.
The Yellow Crane Tower
The Yellow Crane Tower stands on the Yangtze river and is one of the ‘four great towers of China.’ Interestingly, the tower has burned down a bunch of times so the current version is a modern day construction in honor of the one that once was.
Kinda strange that a recent build that only stands as a representation (not a replica) of a once famous building could get so much tourist attraction no? I’m thinking we should build a pagoda tower in CT to boost tourism and call it one of the great towers of Connecticut. Genius.
Behind the tower there’s a bell.
Philadelphia, shame on you
For a mere 10 RMB ($1.67), I was allowed to ring that massive bell three times.
For the first ring, I was given peace for the rest of my life.
For the second ring, I was given luck for the rest of my life.
and for the third ring, I was given wealth for the rest of my life.
WHAT. A. DEAL.
Best one dollar and sixty seven cents I’ve ever invested.
There’s a fair chance that I’ve talked about Hot Pot on this website before. Apparently I have a poor memory when it comes to hot pots. All that aside, check this out:
Oh the glory. We’ve got two broths in the middle: one spicy, one normal. Going clockwise from the top left, we have greens, cabbage, tasty spheres of deliciousness, tofu, potatoes, dumplings, beef, pork, cauliflower, carrots, noodles, mushrooms, tofu things, and more beef.
I am strongly considering buying a hot plate for the House of Rock so that we can make this meal happen in Connecticut.
If this morning’s trip from Changping into Beijing could be summed up by the plots of no more than three movies, those movies would be:
Death race 2000
Actually, not really that last one. But the other two fit quite appropriately.
The drive itself was typical Chinese driving. The Chinese are to driving laws what names are to My Little Ponies, pretty much anything goes (example: Musical wish rainbow celebration tink-a-tink-a-too pony*). The most audacious moment might have been that time we barreled down the wrong direction of a divided road swerving maniacally around the oncoming traffic.
When we (miraculously) arrived in Beijing we zipped by the airport to drop off a few colleagues. Our drivers got confused and at one point forgot which car I was in. Having no idea what was going on at the time, I remained patiently quiet. So it’s no doubt I was surprised when our driver looked over at me with sudden shock and horror and declared “I forgot you were in this car!”
After navigating the labyrinth that is on and off ramps in Beijing, we finally got things settled and I arrived at my new hotel in downtown Beijing. At this point I gave Josh a call. Josh lives with Charlotte in Beijing and they are both totally awesome. Josh and I found each other in the busy city and Josh gave me a bit of a walking tour of some of the lesser Beijing spotlights. Including, but not limited to, our visit of the world’s largest screen which hovers above a walking street in Beijing shedding a powerful glow from its 6000 square meters of screen space. Josh took a picture, I’ll see if I can snag it to post.
After 4-5 hours of strolling we’d had enough and we stopped by one of Charlotte’s and Josh’s favorite Chinese food restaurants where we met up with Charlotte. It was great sharing a meal with these two and the food was much more tame and much much more delicious than some of the banquet food that I mention in previous posts.
Charlotte’s a TV personality here in Beijing who just scored a gig on an international education show and Josh just finished his role in a movie being put out in Taiwan. When both of these become available to the public, you can be certain that we’ll have links to it here.
Special thanks to Charlotte and Josh for the great day.
*I wasn’t kidding about Tink-a-tink-a-too.
1. Saying I’m in Beijing is a bit of a stretch. I’m actually in Changping which is a dramatically less populous area on the northern outskirts of the city. In fact, breakfast at my hotel reminds me a lot of those ending scenes of 2001 a space Odyssey. Breakfast is held in a huge room. It has tall ceilings, ornate decorations, plates of food, and pristine table cloths. Yet despite this glitz and glamor, there’s no one else to share it. I sit at a huge round dinner table with the buffet table spread out in front of me and there’s isn’t a soul in sight. It’d dead quiet except for the occasional moment when my fork scrapes against the plate.
2. China really has a unique spot on the global culinary scene. It’s got all-stars like dumplings and delicious rices, but I have a hard time diving in when there’s a duck head* on my plate staring back at me. In somewhat related news, I haven’t thrown up yet on this trip. Keep your fingers crossed that I’ll make it through Thursday without digestive upheaval.
*It tasted like awkward.
Firstly, here’s the fasting article that I mentioned a few days ago. ta-da!
And I must admit, so far so good. I definitely struggled a bit during my flight as I tried to set my body up for the new time zone, but when I laid down to fall asleep at the hotel I had no problem nodding off. More impressive was that I was able to sleep from 11pm until 7am only waking up once. Now, I’m still not convinced that the technique is flawless because last time I flew to China I think I arrived in the morning and had to tough it out through a full day. This time I arrived at night and all I had to do was make it to the hotel.
But if tonight’s sleep is as painless as last night’s and my return trip proceeds just as smoothly then I think it’s safe to say that fasting is going to become a standard part of my international travel routine.
I have arrived in Beijing!! The flight actually felt very reasonable. I was flying Air China and I must admit it didn’t have some of the amenities that one grows accustomed to on American flights. Namely, no air nozzels and very limited TV screens. That said, the service and food was wonderful and the airfair was very affordable. I had a window seat which let me finish Dune uninterrupted. I even got a little sleep.
For this trip, I experimented with a jet lag technique that I read about in some online article. Basically, the theory is that if you fast before your trip and then start eating on the new schedule your body will force itself to acclimate more quickly to help you find and hunt food. I stopped eating at 8pm on Thursday and didn’t start again until 5pm Friday. Now that I’m in Beijing, I will try and sleep and we’ll see if this theory works well. I really hope it does because this is a short trip and I don’t have tons of time to dominate jet lag before I have to fly home and screw everything up again.
There should be plenty of updates this week as I have a computer in my room. As a start, here are a few pictures of my hotel room.
Note the nice tall ceilings and the split brick columns. The pathway in the back leads into a second room containing the bed.
There are a bunch of ceramic pots and camel and horse statues adorning the mirrored glass shelves. It’s a pretty nice room.
Tomorrow I’m going to try and get in touch with Mika’s sister. My colleagues don’t arrive here until tomorrow night so this would be a great opportunity to do something fun. Stay tuned!
I’m off to Beijing. While it is a work trip, I should get some personal time on Sunday. Hopefully I’ll be meeting my friend Mika’s sister and her husband in Beijing. They live there and speak the language well, so it’ll be nice to have an English speaking friend nearby. Mika also passed on some great ideas for things to do while I’m there.
Things will very likely be quiet around these parts for the next week as I traverse the far east. If I find myself having some spare time to put up some scheduled posts, I’ll do so – though my time is limited between now to tomorrow’s departure. OR, if I can find internet access while abroad, I will update the website with some degree of regularity.
For those with publishing abilities, feel free to log in and post on the site while I’m gone. Two hints:
1. change the tag. Quickthoughts appear on the right, Features on the left (not recommended). Everything else in the middle. The default is a Quickthought.
2. For non-quickthoughts, add in a short quip for the optional excerpt (it’s found in one of the expandable tabs below the text editor) otherwise the site will double post your work.