(new) Summer Palace

6/10

Cost: adults Y60 each, kids Y30 each

When we first moved to Beijing, we noticed on a map that the Summer Palace was a tourist attraction on our side of town (it’s in far northwestern Beijing), but it’s sort of hard to get to by subway from our neighborhood because there isn’t a north/south running subway line as far west as we lived. We also saw that the double-decker buses in our neighborhood went there so we made a plan to ride the double-decker bus to the Summer Palace. And then we didn’t do it for almost two years! Some of the bigger tourist destinations we kept putting off for nice days and weekends when B could go with us. We finally tackled the Summer Palace on June 10.

 On the top level of the double-decker bus on the way to the Summer Palace.

 

We entered via the north gate and walked through Suzhou Street. It’s sort of like a hutong built on a canal. PS loved it.

 

 

 

 

After Suzhou Street, we headed south. Map from here.

Longevity Hill, Sumeru Temple and Hall of Buddhist Tenets

 

 

 

Buddhist Fragrance Tower and the view

 

 

 

Paiyun Gate, Yunhuiyuyu Archway and the Long Corridor

 

 

Bottom left picture, this couple wanted a picture of their Squidgems-sized kid with Squidgems. I especially like his rat tail hair. We had to hurry and move after this picture because a bunch of out of town tourists were about to swarm.

 

Seventeen Arch Bridge and views

We rode a dragon boat back across Kunming Lake toward Qingyan Boat (Marble Boat).

 

Half-Wall Bridge

Then we left the same way we came in.

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China Life

 Squidgems saw these and said, “Look, Phineas and Ferb!”

 Water brush calligraphy in a park.

 This is Buddy taking a picture of a Chinese guy with Squidgems with the guy’s phone. Near Tianan’men/Forbidden City.

 6/21 Super moon of some sort on the way home from youth activities.

 Before we sold our e-bike, we had to see how many of us we could fit on it at the same time.

 We also let PS take it on a little ride.

 

Walking from Decathlon toward home. Not sure why I took this picture.

 This cracked me up for two reasons. 1) the car parked on the sidewalk and 2) the sign says a Chinese name and then “Disaster Prevention Theme Park.”

 

For some reason, before starting the work day, salons sing/dance out front.

 Driving around in Becky’s car, the tallest and soon to be new tallest buildings in Beijing. And below, Short Pants.

 

 

This bike fold completely flat!

 PS looked long and hard for this popsicle she saw advertised that “peels.” We found it. It was gross.

 6/26 Trying out the new air conditioned booth on our way home from church on our last Sunday.

 

View of the train bridge taken from the pedestrian bridge on the way to church.

Church building. Well.. we use part of the 4th floor.

 Our bus stop.

 Cute girls at the new Summer Palace.

The vies from across the street from our building. This is the north gate of campus. Our building is the tall red one.

McD’s ice cream.

China Life

 Walnut delivery bike (each basket is full of walnuts and in the center is a scale).

 

 

 

 

In China, not only is 13 bad luck, but so is 4 (so also 14).

 

 

Once spring and summer roll in, Chinese men wear these utility vests all the time. Usually they are older than this guy.

 

 The Xu family from church had us over for dinner and she made us homemade jiaozi! AND, she got stuck eating the mis-shapen ones I made.

 Chocolate ships at an import shop. That’s almost $7USD. I just use M&Ms or chop of candy bars when I make chocolate chip cookies.

 

This is not the same dog. Two dogs in red shoes.

 

 

 

Right down the street from us is a Chinese Uighur Muslim restaurant. The other day we bought some flat bread from them. I loved the way it looked.

 

A friend took his picture of a sign. We think it means “no spitting,” which would be a novel idea in China.

A desk in the lobby of B’s building. I want a school desk like this on wheels!

 

I see bikes like this and I can’t help but think that these were around during the Cultural Revolution.

 

Matchy matchy couple (and sharing carrying a bag).

 

 Paul Frank monkey detailed SUV.

A clear day. Further west than I normally take pictures (this section is called Shijingshan Road.) Above, toward the pagoda west of town. Below, toward Beijing, you can see the tallest building.

 

 

Buddy’s hot dog lunch from Tous le Jours

 

 Outside Carrefour… a French grocery store chain, the emergency fire cart. :/

 

Can you see the long hair growing out of his facial mole?! I’m not sure what it is, but people here seem to keep hair that I would pluck in a second.

 

 

Waiting for the train to come home from church, PS took this picture. I guess it’s a little A/C booth.

China Life – a guest post by B

This year for Spring Festival there were these public service announcement posters telling you to not set off fireworks because of the pollution they create.

The last of the three trains we ride to church every week. We get on at the terminus of the line, so we can get seats. We ride one stop like this. Most of the ride is like the next pictures.

Many of the church members who live in the westernized eastern suburbs talk about how difficult it is to have events at the church building because traffic can be bad and a drive to church could take over an hour. This is our typical Sunday morning commute. It’s 90 minutes each direction.

Before you leave for church, you have to decide if you are going to carry Squidgems the entire way there or none of it. Once his feet have touched the ground in the filthy outdoors of China, you cannot have his shoes come anywhere near your clothing. For most of our time here, I’ve carried him from door to door, but he’s larger now, and we don’t always get seats (although signs tell passengers to give up seats to children, not everyone does, because they need to be sitting down to watch their TV shows on their phones). So Squidgems rides his scooter to church most weeks now. It helps with the transfers (which can be hundreds of yards long), and it helps him have a place to sit when no one gives up his seat for him. This is what his ride is like most weeks.

Our local Korean place is full of jerks who can’t understand anything we say or gesture. So when I wanted bibimbap a few weeks ago, we had to go to the next-closest Korean place, which is called Cosmic Korean Restaurant (their translation, not mine). While there we were served water bottles with large labels reading, “Hotel Exclusive.” We were nowhere near a hotel.

Lots of these little two-seater cars are around China. This one, evidently, is three-quarters of an Audi.

 

Last week, my wife and I rode our electric bike to Walmart. On the way we saw the “no horse-drawn carts” traffic sign as we were approaching Fourth Ring Road. We commented to each other how it seemed that sign was no longer necessary. That evening, on the way home from Walmart, we saw this horse-drawn cart, parked two blocks from our house. People were selling red bell peppers out of the back. The horse was just, like, “Whatever.”

I’ve been intrigued with the cultural differences in perception of beauty. It seems the Chinese women that Western men find beautiful are not the same women that Chinese men find beautiful. Which I guess is a win-win: Chinese guys get their “hot” wives and Westerners take the “homely” old maids off the market. My wife said, “I don’t see any Chinese men that I find attractive.” I said, “I see good-looking guys, but they aren’t the ones China thinks are good looking. They are rugged, fit manual laborers with messy hair and stubble. They’d be male models in the U.S., but here they are ignored because they are poor.” Male beauty here is very much tied to wealth. This subway ad features an “attractive” man. How do I know? Because look at that expensive cat bag he has!

Or you can just go the Japanese route of making viewers say to themselves, “Wha?!” Somehow this llama is supposed to make you want to buy shoes.

This nonsensical statue at least got anatomy right where it counts.

Our local lingerie store is selling these pajama sets. I’m not sure what the emoji is supposed to signify. Is Islamic State genocide all about the lulz here? China is very lax on blood and violence. While a recent TV show was re-edited to obscure the historically-accurate cleavage, R-rated violence is shown on the subway TVs all the time. One Sunday our ride to church featured all the “best” kill shots from the film American Sniper. A TV show I was watching last week had CGI-added blood spurts. Public TVs in China have aired Islamic State beheading videos on repeat. I think this clothing company is taking the 21st-century’s closest thing (so far) to the Holocaust and has turned it into a marketing slogan that’s supposed to make young women feel comfortable.

 

My wife and I were supposed to meet some colleagues for dinner at a new Indian restaurant (Raj Indian Restaurant). I felt like I was cheating on my favorite Indian restaurant (Ganges), but my love of Indian food made me go. Before dinner, we saw the Drum Tower and the Bell Tower. This is us with the Bell Tower. While the first Bell Tower was built in 1272, this version was built in 1745. (Verdict on the Indian restaurant: nicer restaurant than my favorite, but slightly worse food, comparable prices, and much more difficult to get to. I’ll stick with my favorite place.)

Walking home from church on Sunday, my wife went full Chinese and had her toddler pee in the bushes on the edge of the sidewalk.

A lizard on a support column on the fifth floor of my office building. Later in the day I doubted it was real, so I sort of poked at it and it ran around for a while.

China Life

 Squatting

 Mid day, I find groups of men like this gathered around watching a Chinese chess game.

 Lionel Messi chip aisle!

 

You can’t tell by my picture, but the woman in purple is wearing tights as pants. They have a polka dot design up to the upper thigh where it stops and by the seams, you can definitely tell these are tights, not pants.

 

This guy was smoking on our subway train late one night. He moved from car to car so at each stop, when the subway employee came looking for him, he was sneaking past them into the next car and they couldn’t spot him. He seemed obviously inebriated with something (not sure if drug use happens here in China) or mentally unwell.

 

No one old enough to be in a romantic relationship should also have a giant bunny backpack.

 Grocery shopping: At our local grocery store, in order to buy something from the office supply section (ie: a 28 cent roll of tape) you have to get this ticket and wait in line at a register across the store from the office supply section. Mostly, this encourages me not to buy office supplies at our grocery store. On this particular day, I had to wait in line behind four people in order to buy tape. Tape!! It was a bad China day for me.

 Trash trucks.

 I was trying to capture the little girl in red sitting side saddle on the back of her dad’s bike, but they were too speedy for me.

 Electric scooter with a little seat.

 Toddler in army coat carrying a gun.

 When Princess Sparkley and I travel to youth activities on Tuesday nights, this guy is out in front of our store with his turtle on a lease. He rotates between two different turtles. I couldn’t figure out what he was doing, but one time he had a plastic tub full of small turtles, so maybe he’s selling turtles?

 For a youth activity, they did a photo scavenger hunt at Solana mall. They had to get a picture of a weird translation sign.

 A few weeks ago they tore up the sidewalk in front of our grocery store and re-tiled it. Then a week later this tractor came in and tore it all up to retile it again.

 

Paining characters on the sidewalk with water.

 My favorite candy bar (milk chocolate with sea salt and caramel) is only at one of our stores now. And for some reason, it’s Y12 (about $2) while all the other flavors are Y9.60 ($1.50). Not a huge amount of money, but I’m already justifying 1) buying candy and 2) buying a more expensive chocolate when I could have a Snickers for Y4 or a Dove milk chocolate for Y7.

 

Mmmm… this is one of my favorite street foods. Breakfast at our subway stop. It took awhile, but I figured out it is called Jidan guanbing 鸡蛋灌饼. A bread, fried with an egg cracked in it. Then a hot dog-like sausuage and potatoes with carrot and peppers. Oh, and some sort of sauce painted on… probably fermented soy bean paste or something similar.

More street food info: http://beijinghaochi.com/suzhou-egg-crepe-jidan-guanbing

and  http://www.meatlovessalt.com/2014/05/beijing-breakfasts/

A fun infographic of Beijing street foods: http://www.timeoutbeijing.com/features/Food__Drink-Food_Features/149867/Beijings-best-street-food.html

 

Yes, this is an adult woman with a cell phone case that looks like a baby bottle.

 After going to the Ancient Observatory (which is just above this station), I finally understood the tile art of the Jianguomen station.

 This is not a car accident. This was deemed a successful parking job by the driver of the black car.

 

I like that the Max. 3 Persons sign looks like they are dancing.

 My new favorite orange (tangelos, I think) because they peel easily and are 99% seedless.

The white fluff in the stroller… this is a dog.

Notice the little girl riding in front of her mom’s legs. (Three gals, on a scooter.)

China Life

 

 

A shop called NancyK! The employee didn’t understand when B told them (in Chinese) that my name is Nancy K. I don’t think they knew the name of their store. They just sort of looked at me like he’d told them it was my birthday and all they could do was smile my way. (Joy City Mall, Xidan)

On display in a subway station… it looks like a tissue box shaped like a subway train car.

 

B and I went on a date to Nanluoguxiang Hutong in order to buy a couple souvenirs I wanted (they only had one in stock) and to get dessert waffles. Couldn’t figure out how to buy the dessert waffles. China. So we had this yummy frozen yogurt instead. I got Oreos, strawberry sauce and kiwis. I think B’s is all mango and coconut. It was delicious which helped make up for the waffle failure, and the dinner near failure. (We went to a second location of a yummy restaurant I’d gone to for lunch with some women from church. The second location only had two of the same menu items as the place I went for lunch. 😦  )

 

This poster showed up around town during Spring Festival to warn about when you were allowed to set of fireworks.

Niujie Mosque

2/19  Line 7, Guang’anmennei stop, SE exit

Cost: Adults Y10, Kids Y5, under 120 cm = free

The Niujie Mosque (also known as the Cow Street Mosque or sometimes Ox Street Mosque, Niu means cattle and Jie is street) is the oldest Mosque in Beijing. We went with the WAs and with my visiting teacher (KD and her husband). It was colder than we had expected, but fun to see, and we found the best sign translation yet in Beijing!