Tuesday, September 25, 2012

SanYuanLi Vegetable Market - Beijing

Last Saturday we set out to do a dry run of Margot's adventure to the International Newcomer's meeting on Monday morning. This involved Margot taking the lead on leading us through the subway maze to the Capital Club. That went flawlessly. On the way back I got us lost looking for the Sanyuanli vegetable market.

Wouldn't you know it - the guy we stopped on the sidewalk happened to be Japanese. But he knew the way and we got there fine although his English was only marginally better than my Chinese. Actually Margot knew the way, but I wasn't listening carefully.

Reportedly many of the fine restaurants in Beijing get there produce here.  It is one long building - about twice as long as the picture above. Fruit on one end, meat in the middle and vegetables on the other end. The lady at stall 87 knew the English name of every vegetable in her shop plus the ones she didn't have.

I'll get a picture of the pigs feet next time we go.
You can also get cheese, etc. Actually there are a lot of foreign goods on sale here. Cheapest place so far to buy wine. Margot will have to report on what 69 RMB wine tastes like. Prices are pretty reasonable I thought. Didn't have to negotiate to feel like you were getting a bargain. That doesn't mean we didn't leave some money on the table so to speak. It was pretty quiet by the time we got there after lunch. I'm sure it is a lot busier in the morning.

Again, with the contrasts. This is the shopping mall underneath our apartment building (it is under a lot of buildings, it is huge). No bargains here, although there are a lot of western brand comfort-type foods (with Chinese characteristics). I'm talking Dairy Queen, Cold Stone Creamery, Burger King, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, etc.

Be sure to check out Margot's blog at ---> Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Wood

Here are links to recent blog postings

Wangfujing at Night
Jingshan Park I
Jingshan Park II and Snack Street Follow-up

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Jingshan Park II and Snack Street Follow-up

Here are a few more pictures from last Sunday afternoon. Here is the view of the pavilion as you walk down through the park around the hill.

Near the north entrance are a few containers with some kind of water lilies. The were very nice in the late afternoon sun.

 You can click on any of the pictures to enlarge them.

I thought the tile on this wall with the bamboo made a nice picture.

I have no idea what the name of this instrument is. Looks like it only has two string.

Here is a link to the early Jingshan Park positing.

Jingshan Park Posting 1

As I walked back from the park I passed through the Dong Hua Men food market as they were getting started for the evening. With the better light I could get some better pictures.

I'm pretty sure one of the vendors told me that the insects on the end are silk worms. The squid or octopus looked pretty fresh - right of the ice.

These vegetables were very colorful.

I should have asked about these. They are either pigeons or small chickens or maybe something I don't recognize. Any ideas?

I saw this several times. Sunday is family day and all over children were out with their parents.

These gentlemen were enjoying the day playing checkers.

This is one of the entrances to the Peking Union Medical College near our apartment.

All over China you see guards at  public buildings. I'm not sure what the logic is exactly. Perhaps the thought is that instruments of the government are possible places for demonstrations to break out. I'm thinking the fire station is a bit of overkill, though. At least these guys have climate controlled station. They all go to the same school. They swivel there heads constantly and if you look at them they stare back in an unsmiling, intimidating sort of way. I usually respond with an inquisitive look as if to say why are you giving me that look.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Jingshan Park

On Sunday afternoon I visited Jingshan Park. Jingshan park is located just north of the Forbidden City. The park contains a large hill that was formed from the dirt dug out to make the moat around the Forbidden City.

As in several of the parks in Beijing, you will find people singing, dancing, enjoying life.

This guy and the lady above are part of a larger group dancing in the park for their own enjoyment and to entertain passers-by. Judging by the costumes it is sort of performance art.

I imagine the costumes have some significance but I have no clue about them.

This lady was also part of the group with the 2 above.

They seem to enjoy having their picture taken. Not surprising, why else would you dress up and go to a huge public park to dance?

Here is another group nearby.

Wikipedia Entry for Jingshan Park

Click any picture for a larger version.

This was a group of singers singing what sounded sort of like patriotic songs. They definitely weren't love
songs or lullabies. Tensions with Japan are running high in China right now so I imagine they were singing especially loud. You could hear them and another group all over the park. There might have been some inter-group competition, also.

At the top of the hill there is a pavilion with a Buddha figure inside. Most of the people were there to enjoy the view but a few were there to offer prayers and burn incense. Actually, you can't burn the incense here because of the risk of fires. Too many trees and other vegetation around. So they offer the incense and place it in the holder un-burned.

Here is a shot of the Pavilion of Everlasting Spring at the top of the hill.

There are several other smaller pavilions on small hills nearby.

This the White Dagoba in Beihai park nearby.

This is a shot looking north. In the center of the picture on the horizon you can see a tower in the Olympic area on the north side of town.

The Drum and Bell towers are visible in this shot, also.

Directly to the south of Jingshan is the Forbidden City. You really get a nice view from the top of the hill. You can also get a sense of the scale of the Forbidden City.

Here is a close-up shot. The area near this gate was the residential area for the emperor, his wives and concubines and 1000s of eunuchs. The area to the south as more for ceremonies and functions.

This shot is looking to the southeast. Our apartment is in the complex on the horizon in the center of the picture. I think it took me about 45 minutes to walk back from the park at a leisurely pace.

I included this shot looking east south-east to show you where the SABIC office is. We are on the 36th floor of the closest of the set of 3 with a similar design in the center of the picture on the horizon.

 This picture is from the side of the hill and gives a better perspective of the main halls that are arranged on the center axis of the Forbidden City.

Here is a close up of one of the buildings or gates under going restoration. They painted and spruced up all the main buildings before the Olympics in 2008. It still looks pretty good.

Some of you may remember Margot commenting that women with blond hair or big getting stared at a lot in China when we were here 7 years ago. The other day she commented that it seemed to be a lot less these days.

I agree as I get fewer curious stares than before, too - at least in Beijing. In the small town of Dagang the school kids still look at me with a bit of wonder, though.

But I've got to tell you - this young women was getting a lot of furtive glances by my observation and I wasn't the only one. My Chinese isn't good enough to tell but from the body language I'm pretty sure I heard more than one Chinese woman say the Chinese equivalent of  "Were you just ... Noooo, of course not." Maybe just as well Margot stayed home for this sightseeing excursion.

Be sure to visit Margot's blog I took the one less traveled

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Wangfujing at Night

Well, I guess this post will be a study in contrasts.

This shot is out the front door of our apartment building.The apartment building is part of a huge complex called Oriental Plaza. It includes a huge shopping mall, Hyatt hotel and offices in addition to the apartments.

The complex stretches an entire city block and city blocks in Beijing can be huge. This shot is at the west end of the mall at Wangfujing street.

It is about 1000 meters from one end of the complex to the other. Our apartment is near the letter G in the map below.

View Larger Map

Here is a picture of Margot just outside Oriental Plaza on Wangfujing Street.

On to the fun and contrasts.

About 1/2 a block up the street on the left you can see this paifang or entrance gate. The gate leads to what is know as snack street.

All ready you get a sense of the crowds. This shot is about 7:00 PM on Friday night.

A little further along the scene looks like this. Notice the picture above the lanterns of what the street looked like many years ago. Judging by the number of tour buses at the end of the street I'm guessing a huge part of the crowd is Chinese tourists but there must be some Beijingers looking for something to. A healthy sprinkling of foreign tourists, also.

Another crowd shot.

It is sort of a photographers smorgasbord. Lots of activity, bright colors, etc.

The two main attractions are souvenirs and food. The street is lined with food stalls, small restaurants and large souvenir stands.

The food on offer ranges from sweet snacks like sugar coated fruit on a stick to more exotic offerings.

Here we have coconuts ready for drinking.

Not exotic enough?

How about fried star fish?

In the case below are various seeafood and internal organs ready to be fried up.

Not exotic enough?

Take a close look at the star fish.

Those are sticks of seahorses and scorpions.

Not exotic enough?

How about what looks like cockroaches and mealy bugs?

I'll try to find out what these actually are.

Yes, I saw some being sold. Judging from the body language there seemed to be a dare among friends involved.

Here is my first attempt at posting a short video to try and help you get the full effect. Let me know if it makes the blog take a long time to load.

Not much very exotic about the souvenir shops. Just a lot of them.

Back on Wangfujing street proper you see all sorts of marketing techniques.

I'm not sure what this one was all about.

There was a tourism promotion fair going on. Lots of small booths to promote one city or another.

This one is for Los Angeles.

Oops. This one is a little out of place. There are a few stages with performers along snack street. No idea what these are about. This was at the end of a small street with a lot of small restaurants. I imagine the idea was to attract people to come down, have a look and give the hawkers a chance to talk you into sitting down for something more substantial than scorpions.

Further down Wangfujing you have a series of bronze statues just begging you to be photographed with them.

There is another more organized street food mall a couple of blocks down. This call the Dong Hua Men night market. This is more sanctioned by the city, it appears, with long line of standardized stalls.

There seems to be a little larger selection here but there is a lot of overlap in the offerings with the Snack Street area.

I think I'd trust the scorpions here before I tried them at the other place.

Along Wangfujing is a Catholic cathedral. I'm not sure if services are still held here or not.

But on Saturday night there is a large crowd of people in the plaza in front line dancing

Yes, line dancing.

I must say I didn't recognize the song.