Monday, June 16, 2014

Summer in the City: Day 4

Leaving the hotel in the morning--it was nice and cool in the lobby, but already hot and humid outside. 
Also known as the day we walked around some hutongs, ate old Beijing style noodles, looked at some high rises that Brad was interested in, and finished the day at the Silk Market. We spent a lot of time on the subway, walked through Tianamen Square, and noticed again that the city had a lot of law enforcement and military police around every corner.

I think it was the anniversary of the incident that occurred on that square not too many decades ago. It was also a holiday, so the influx of vacationers was fairly intense--what a crowded day in Beijing! We were shoved into train cars by public transit employees. The major plus side of being this squished in a subway car is it is absolutely impossible to fall down. There's no need to hold onto any hand rails because if the train jostles at all, you will be held upright by the ten people who are surrounding you close enough that you can practically hear their hearts beating. It's like some crazy trust exercise.

Actually, it makes riding the subway while holding a baby or toddler really easy. Or not. I can't decide. It is rather embarrassing when your baby repeatedly whacks random people on the back, and the person turns around to see what you want every single time it happens.

Walking to the subway line from our hotel was actually my least favorite thing to do. We had to walk past some little restaurants that were selling stinky doufu. It is basically fermented tofu that smells like raw sewage. I will never eat it. Brad was gagging.

A touristy hutong area, complete with a Starbucks. Or, as it is pronounced in Chinese, "xing ba ke". I was a little turned off by all the tourism traps--it was more like Disney's epcot center than real China. But it was still fun to look around.

The Emperor's Street.

A lot of breakfast street food being sold in the alley ways. Bread twists, soy milk, and little packets of steamed rice or dumplings.

Ordering our noodles at this small but extremely busy and efficient restaurant. The kitchen was on the second floor, and the stair case was more like a very steep ladder, which the waiters would run up and down very quickly--while holding huge trays piled high with noodle dishes. It was impressive just to watch the crazy-fast-risky service. Yes, they do trip and spill occasionally, since that is what happened to our food the first time it came down the ladder-staircase-thingy.

The home-made noodles arrive in a large bowl, plane and delicious. You add your toppings and sauce into your bowl according to your preferences and mix it up like crazy. Just looking at these pictures is making my stomach growl.

Peking Duck. You can barely see the reflection of Willow and I in the window pane.

All these hole-in-the-wall restaurants and snack shops were spread across the narrow alleys. Some alleys are only wide enough for people to walk through on foot. The window pictured below was a very small bread selling place...they were making the food in a small closet-sized room and then selling them right from the window. The window was positioned right up against the alley, so actually, my camera couldn't get further away to capture a larger picture of what was happening. Things like this fascinate me.

Restaurants cooking their dishes in large communal pots, outside on the road. They use huge paddle like spoons to stir up their recipes. It smelled good and bad at the same time. I can't explain it better than that.

Whole fish heads in this spicy red sauce.
And I like this weird scooter that was enclosed in some weird bubble of glass. It was so crazy looking.

Noah is a trooper. He's miserably hot, but still easy going and no problem to take care of. I don't know why he's such a happy baby, but he is.

Willow next to a duck....
The buildings near Tiananmen Square are huge and ostentatious.

The building where Mao's embalmed body is displayed. You can go in and see his body, but you can't take any belongings with you. The line moves continually and you are not allowed to stop. You have to keep walking, even as you pass his body. It can sometimes take quite a long time to see his body, but if it is not too busy, you might only have to wait about 15 minutes. It is visited by many Chinese people every year; I think it might be the most visited place in China. The entire building, which looks bigger than a city block to me, houses only Mao's body.

Ahead is the Forbidden City, which we had already toured.

Noah fell asleep. So tired from all the noise, heat, and too-friendly people. Everyone wants to talk to fat babies; it's hard to be a cute and fat in China.

Brad wanted to see the CCTV building too. We took the subway again, and walked a bit as well. It took awhile, but we finally got close enough for some pictures. Brad said, "Here's the city, finally". There's just not a lot of sky scrapers in Beijing.

Buying more water at this little snack stand. We went through so many water bottles during this trip!

Apparently, this strange shoe type building is being constructed currently. It already looked dirty and old to me. Brad said it was significant, so we tried to get a better look--but temporary walls had been placed all around the building to screen it's progress from the public eye. This practice is very Chinese and I've come to expect it: out of sight, out of mind. But Brad was sad that his view was blocked. This was the only place we could get a view of the building.

We ended up eating Mexican food for dinner, shopping at the Silk Market and returning to our hotel at a late hour. We were so exhausted, and I for one was ready to return to our home in Shenyang. The next day, we packed up, ate breakfast at Starbucks, and found taxis to the airport. But I'll save my few stories from the return trip for the next post.