Pictures Around Town

Haven’t seen a horse since we’ve lived in China but found this street sign down the street near 4th Ring Road.
Avocados at Walmart!
We had a Peugeot when I was a kid but I haven’t seen one since.
Line 13 of the subway seems to be all above ground.
Line 13.
Stores have random fish in them.  This is Suning, an appliance store near us.
Buddy wanted us to be the air purifier with a hole in it so he could stick his hand in it so we took a picture of this warning.
Lanterns decorating a street for National Day week.
At Happy Baby Store. !!
At our grocery store!!  I discovered Bimbo brand tortillas a few weeks ago but now Mission!  So much better!
This fruit, looks sort of like an apple, is in a plastic container with a screw on lid the exact size of the fruit.  ?!!?
The boys dressed up to cheer the Nationals on to a win.  They lost. 😦
This is what delivers my packages!
At Walmart!!!  We haven’t seen any chocolate/peanut butter candy since arriving in China. (I stocked up.)
The Halloween section of Walmart.

A Variety of Foods

9/30/14  Spring Rolls – a Thai restaurant in the Holiday Inn on Yongding Rd.
10/5/14  Our first street food, a cart in front of CSF at night, similar to this:  Puffed Corn This was our first street food.

Candied Haws or Candied Jujube #5  on this list.  Haven’t tried these yet.

Cotton candy here is white.  I assume it is just sugar flavored, not flavored.

Hot dogs on a stick here are actual hot dogs (a Chinese variety) on a skewer/stick.

A husband and wife team prepare these outside our grocery store each night. This was our 2nd and 3rd street food.

B watches them be made while I run in the grocery store for soda so here’s his description of what they are: Rectangular noodley wrapper, vegetable oil, fried egg, onions, cilantro, peanuts, chili powder, a spicy brown paste, a spicy red sauce, and half a hot dog. Rolled up like a burrito, cut into segments, rolled the other direction, and served in a cup. 

It’s really good, but a few levels of spicy hotter than I can handle.  Eventually I’ll have to figure out how to ask for it less spicy.

Notice the “chopsticks,” basically just skewers.

Update: B asked his students and they say it is called Jian Bing (煎饼 jiānbǐng).  We read about it online, it seems similar, but also different.  We also figured out that the “noodley wrapper” is yuba, a type of tofu skin. This costs ¥6, just under a dollar.  B’s students are outraged that it’s so expensive (used to only be ¥3 or ¥5) and they were really outraged to find out a guy in Chicago is selling them for $8 (or about ¥50).

Newer Update: We remained skeptical about this being Jian Bing since all the descriptions we’ve found of Jian Bing online seem fairly different but we trusted B’s students.  He asked a different class and they told us this is called Kao Leng Mian (考冷面) and this video of it being made looks almost exactly like what we got.,d.aWw


Hazardous Air


Wednesday through Saturday night we’ve had HORRIBLE air.  All the way up about 400 and nearly to 500 which is far into the Hazardous range.  The government issued an orange warning which is the 2nd highest warning and closed some major highways in/out of town.  Luckily, B ordered our fancy air purifier and it was delivered Tuesday and Tuesday night he and I walked over to Suning (an electronics store down the street from our grocery store and bought a second, smaller unit for the boys’ room). So we were all set!  We did have to wander out a few times over those days but we wore our air masks and made it quick. Saturday night, some wind blew in and dropped the air way down.

On the left is a 30 day graph of the air quality. On the right is the past 24 hours (at one point, that entire 24 hour graph was in the hazardous area).  The yellow line is near the US Embassy and where church is.  The blue and green lines are out by us.  The purple line is where lots of Americans live, including our friends the As.

Then after four days of this, Saturday night a wind blew in and it dropped really fast.  Yellow is still embassy, green and blue are out by us.  I don’t have the purple Shunyi line graphed here.

Thursday, 10/9 on the left and Sunday morning, 10/12 on the right.

Keeping busy when there is bad air:

We bought a chess board a couple weeks ago.


 And there is an entire tv channel here devoted to this game, Go.  Read about it here.

And here’s Bob modeling Squirt’s air mask so he thinks it’s okay.  He doesn’t.

Yuyuantan Park


On the way home from the zoo we stopped at Yuyuantan Park (just a few subway stops from home) to get a better look at the CCTC Tower.  It’s near a China Millennium Monument (the one with a slanted spire coming off the roof) and the Military Museum (to the left of the Millenium Monument is a building with a spire topped with a star in a circle, this is the Military Museum).

The entry fee to the park was about $1.00 total (2 yuan/adult, 1/yuan per child and they didn’t charge us for Little Guy or Squirt).

The 65 banner in this picture is for the 65th anniversary (the National Day holiday). The time of day was bad for getting a picture of Buddy with the CCTV Tower in the background but we tried.

For 50 yuan ($8.33) we rode a boat across the lake to the other side.  Next time we’ll take the duck boat that blows bubbles out it’s bill.

Then we walked by the CCTV Tower, to a mall (CapitaMall) and had a not very enjoyable noodle dinner at a mid-level noodle place in the mall. We did discover a new orange soda (that was served to us in almost frozen cans) called Ice Peak.

Beijing Zoo


The Beijing Zoo is actually really inexpensive and really huge.  We missed a lot of animals and will have to visit again.  To get in and see the pandas, it’s 20 yuan ($3.33)/person.  To get into the zoo, the panda exhibit and the aquarium is a much pricier ($23/person, I think).  We decided to save that for another day when the weather is bad and we want to be inside.

As a family we enjoy zoos and we knew we wanted to see pandas in China,* but everything I’d read about the zoo was that I’d feel bad for the animals, there weren’t enough zookeepers, the animal habitats weren’t great, the animals were unusually lethargic, etc.  So, going into this I had low exceptions and maybe that’s why it didn’t seem so bad. There did seem to be a lot of empty (without explanation cages, or maybe I just didn’t notice the signs because they were in Chinese).  And there did seem to be some over crowding in cages.  But the animals we did see were great and pretty active.  The monkeys were super fun and we spent a long time there watching them crawl, swing, jump and run all over their large cage.  There were bear cubs, a polar bear, some large cats, giraffes (what we’ll feed next time we come to the zoo), elephants, lemurs, etc.

Pandas in China.  Although they looked very old.
Blown candy and super tall, maned wolves.

Squirt wore a hat to the zoo.  He got less attention than the Temple of Heaven but still had his photo (our whole family’s photo) taken with a Chinese girl who asked nicely in English.

Overall we enjoyed the zoo and we’ll be sure to go back to see some of the animals we missed as well as to see the aquarium.

*There’s still a chance that we’ll travel to a panda sanctuary southwest of Beijing in a different province but that’ll be a bigger trip so we’re saving it for later.

The Temple of Heaven


After church we went to The Temple of Heaven.

The fame was fun for awhile but by the end of the day it got pretty old.  Squirt (and our large family) were a huge attraction and here it got to the point that we couldn’t stop moving without gathering a crowd taking our picture.  There were steps all over so B waited with Squirt while we looked inside the Hall of Prayer and then we switched.  While he was looking, we gathered a crowed.  Then we left and walked past a gift shop.  B waited outside while I looked around quickly.  When I came out I found not Squirt having his picture taken, but B posing with two friends who took turns having their picture taken with him.  Afterwards he joked that maybe they thought he was Drew Carey.  While he was having his picture taken, a woman nicely asked me in English if she could take a picture with my baby.  We continued on further and got the kids some ice cream.  While they ate sitting on a curb they gathered this crowd in the bottom right hand picture.  Some parents even pushed their Chinese children forward to stand by our kids for a picture.  It got old pretty fast.  I was surprised that in our way less western neighborhood we don’t attract swarms of photographers like we do at huge tourist attractions where there are other westerners aplenty.

Echo Wall (here)

Buddy (with the sun in his eyes) and the tallest building in Beijing.
Circular Mound Altar

from here

Heaven Heart Stone
Heaven Heart Stone, also known as Sun Stone, is one of most distinct, design-wise, in the Temple of Heaven. It is a round stone in the center of the altar which is slightly protruding. If you stand on it and shout or knock, the sound waves will be clearly echoed.  In ancient times, at the Worshiping Heaven Ceremony, the ritual officer would stand on the stone to read the oration and the clangorous sound seemed to be reaching to heaven.