Wednesday, November 24, 2010

2010 Beijing Trip, Thursday

Happy Thanksgiving! It's Thursday morning in Beijing and everything useful on the Internet is still blocked by the GFW of China. I finally got out my SecurID dongle and logged into the company VPN so I can check Facebook and post some blog entries.

I arrived in Bejing on Sunday afternoon after a 12 hour flight from Vancouver. Air Canada uses a Boeing 767 on it's YVR-PEK route and the plane is much smaller than other Transpacific flights I've taken in the past. The seating arrangement in economy is 2-3-2 vs. 3-4-3 in 747's and 777's. The flight wasn't too full and I managed to get the inside three seats on row 24 by myself. Even then, it was hard for me to sleep and I ended up watching several movies (finally saw Inception and some Japanese samurai movie). The in-flight food was awful too... much worse than what you get on Cathay Pacific.

Air Canada has a pretty cool touch screen entertainment system. One hour down, 11 more to go.

Mood lighting. Business class was lit with reddish lighting.

My friend in Beijing, Sindy, picked me up from the airport and promptly got lost on the Airport Expressway. She drives okay but likes to stop in the middle of the road to read signs or call friends for directions when she is lost. It's a bit disconcerting when she stops in the right lane (not shoulder) of a 3-lane highway and pulls out her cell phone. Anyway, we managed to find our way to her parents' house to have dinner. The entire time, their TV was tuned to CCTV-5, which is the national sports channel, and it was non-stop Asian Games coverage. As expected, the games are dominated by China, South Korea, and Japan, with China taking the most medals. After dinner, she drove me to my hotel, which is only a few blocks away, and I checked in.

View outside my hotel room (8th floor of Rishengchang Hotel, looking west)

Hotel room. I found the hotel online and reserved it through This is the "business" class room which is ~45 m2 vs. the cheapest room at ~25 m2. After fees and stuff, the room costs RMB450 per night. I think if I just walked in from the street, it would have been ~RMB100 more.

A lot of hotel have a big glass window between the bathroom and the bedroom. Not sure why... maybe it's so you can keep an eye on unfamiliar female visitors.

The next day (Monday), I went back to Sindy's parents' house for lunch. This time, her father made some beef pastries and we also had some porridge. Sindy had some coupons for cheap movie tickets and we went to see Harry Potter 7. Thankfully, it was in English with Chinese subtitles so I could (mostly) follow what was happening. The reviews haven't been all that good and I could see why. The entire movie felt like a setup for the next movie even though this was the last book in the series. I don't remember the story in the book being all that confusing. For dinner, Sindy brought me to a place called Jovi, which was a Japanese restaurant. The menu prices were pretty high but they had a RMB138 all-you-can-eat special. Basically you can order whatever you want on the menu for few hours. The food was just so-so but the restaurant is supposedly know for short skirts. All the female waitresses had the same uniform which had short flared skirts and they all wore thigh high black stockings. This was so-so too...

Dinner at Jovi. The decor was pretty modern but so were the prices. RMB138 is ~$20. I didn't get any pictures of the waitresses.

Sindy was ordering a lot of items but she said that everything was really small. We ended up getting too much stuff and left several items uneaten when we left.

Since my Tianjin friend (John Chen) and his family went to Japan this week, I really don't have anything planned in Beijing. Without anything to do, Sindy and I went to a new shopping mall next to her parents' apartment. They said it was opened a few months ago but there were still a lot of unopened stores. It had six floors of shops and restaurants along with a multiplex movie theater. We walked around for an hour and the only thing I bought was a ping pong paddle. Since it was right next to a Carrefour, we did some snacks shopping for Wednesday's ski(!) trip. Carrefour is a French market chain, similar to Wal-Mart in China. I was still pretty tired jet lag so I went back to the hotel right after dinner (we ate in the shopping mall).

Papa John's pizza. I was surprised to see it in a new mall in Beijing since they're not that common in the US. I haven't tried pizza in China yet.

Storefront with lots of inflatable pools for babies to swim. Most people don't have bathtubs in their apartment. Sindy's parents have a showlet (toilet + shower in one).

It was ~3pm when we got there and the place was pretty deserted. The one store I wanted to visit (electronics) was still closed. There was a large H&M clothing store on the first floor. I've never heard of the brand until I found out my cousin works for them in Beijing.

Kobe fan

All the escalators were placed randomly around a central opening that spans the entire six floors. It takes forever to go up and down though.

Subways. There were lots of these too. Still no In-N-Out anywhere to be found yet...

We sat in a coffee shop for awhile. Around 5pm, a lot of the restaurants had employee pep talks outside. I've never worked in a restaurant... do they do this in the US too?

We ate dinner in a Chinese "fast food" place: kung pao chicken bowl and mapo tofu bowl. It was not too good and I didn't have any appetite in the first place.

This post is getting too long... I'll put pictures from the "ski trip" on the next post.

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