Sunday, May 1, 2011

Beijing Side Trip, Days 1 & 2

Friday was a long travel day. I got up at 6am and didn't get to Beijing until after 9pm. There was a lot of people at HKIA in the afternoon and lots of traffic on the runway.

There aren't that many 4 engined jets. I think this is an Airbus A340.

My flight from Hong Kong to Beijing. I think Dragonair has an all Airbus fleet... this is an Airbus A330.

When I got to the hotel, it was already late so I took whatever room they gave me. Even though I asked for a non-smoking room, I got a room that smelled like an ashtray. My nose burned all night and I had to ask for a new room in the morning. There's an 85°C bakery across the street but no crazy line like in Irvine.

The next day, we went to Sindy's parent's house for lunch. Afterward, I went with her to check out a restaurant that caters to groups. It was near East 4th Ring Road and it was next to a lake in a park. The rooms were really nice but the prices on the menu was crazy expensive. Each dish was several hundred RMB (~$50).

Scenery outside one of the rooms in the restaurant

Since we had a few hours to spare before dinner, we went to check out Chaoyuan Park. There was a Pop Music Festival but I think it concluded before we got there.

There is a permanent carnival inside the park and they were renting bicycles and these tiny electric cars. We ended up renting one and drove around for 30 minutes.

There were some European looking buildings inside the park and lots of couples were taking engagement/wedding photos.

There was also a Segway rental place. I wanted to rent one since my one an only riding experience in Long Beach was pretty cool. However, the rental was for riding in a small enclosed area so I passed.

On the way to dinner, we drove by the CCTV building. They were still trying to renovate the burned tower next to it.

Lots of traffic on the 3rd Ring Road, even though it was a Saturday.

Sindy prepaid for a dinner for 4 at this Korean BBQ place. I think she paid RMB150 for a RMB400 dinner set. It was okay... the meat quality wasn't that great.

The name of the place was Korean Crystal BBQ. I think the crystal part refers to the cooking surface which was a clear piece of tempered glass. The only problem is that the fire doesn't come through so it was more of a stir-fry instead of a BBQ.

I told Sindy's parents that I liked their pork/vegetable dumplings so they said they would make it for lunch. Before lunch, we walked to the nearby Taoranting Park. The park entry fee was RMB2 but senior citizens get in for free. Since it was a holiday (May 1st is International Labor Day or something), the park was crowded. There is a large lake in the middle and it was filled with rental boats.

A rock with the name of the park

There were long line at each boat rental dock. Chinese people drive boats like they drive cars... poorly.

There were lots of rocks with Chinese characters. I thought they were poems or something literary but this one says No Swimming.

At this point, we were across the lake from the main entrance. I hear a lot of people singing. Sindy's dad said that they were singing "red" songs, i.e., Communist propaganda songs, and anyone was welcome join in. In this instance, Sindy said the song was "The East is Red". Crazy. When was the last time you saw hundreds of Americans spontaneously singing nationalistic songs in a park?! The brainwashing is strong here.

It's the 21st century, diapers have been invented for a long time, but the Chinese people refuse to give up on the split pants. I don't really have a problem with this conceptually (my mom said I used to wear them) but people here don't clean up after their kids. I guess they don't clean up after their dogs either.

Similar to yesterday in Chaoyang Park, there were lots of couples taking wedding pictures. I think there's a monopoly since the couples seem to rotate to different sites while all the photographers stayed put.

Park map... most of the park is covered by a large lake.

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