Monday, August 27, 2007

Parents in Love

IMG_0282, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

This couple are the parents of the host family that my son stayed with. He is the head of the science department at the school. She is a former teacher that now works with the government.

They spoke very poor English and usually had a translator for when we were with them. The two were always very affectionate as you can see here because they are sharing an umbrella on a very misty day at the Summer Palace.

Music By The Bridge

IMG_0281, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

This flute player had set up in a pavillion at the shoreline end of the seventeen arches bridge. He had drawn quite a crowd but I don't know whether he was playing for tips or not. In the background you can see colorful umbrellas of people crossing the bridge to the island.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Seventeen Arches Bridge

P1010019, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Nine is common number in Chinese architecture. This bridge connecting the east side of the Summer Palace in Beijing with the island in the middle of Kunming Lake has seventeen arches total. That way there are nine arches from the center of the bridge to either end.

Bridge Lions

IMG_0276, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Along the seventeen arches bridge are a serious of lions. There are 544 of them in all and each has a slightly different position or expression.


IMG_0277, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

The gargoyles at the ends of the seventeen arch bridge are considered some of the finest stone carvings of their type. In the mist is a pagaoda on the far side of Kunming Lake.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Water Recreation

P1010026, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

The Summer Palace in Beijing was a retreat for royalty during the hot months. Analogies to Versailles in size, beauty, and historical significance are all appropriate.

Today is serves as a tourist attraction and recreation area. These paddle boats set amongst the willows and landscaping are normally for rent, but the soggy weather that day kept them at dock.

Water Lilies and Pagodas

P1010027, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

The Summer Palace is a place of serene beauty. This pavillion is set on a mini-island in the lake amongst a bed of enormous water lilies.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Morning Warm Up

One feature of Chinese high schools (or middle schools as they call them) is the morning exercise routine. The entire school files out onto the play yard and does several minutes of music choreographed calisthenics. If you look carefully, most of the kids seem pretty disinterested. Also, out of some misplaced fashion sense, many of them wear the winter track suit uniform even though it was over 90 degrees F the day this was filmed. Still, I can't imagine an American school even attempting this.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Meat Wagon

IMG_4295, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Trucks are not allowed in Beijing, so a lot of deliveries are by van. This van is a traveling meat wagon with a load of beef in the back for delivery to the restaurants. There wasn't anything special about the van (particualarly not any refrigeration) except the cardboard in the back to collect the juice dripping.

Meat Cycle

IMG_4294, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

A lot of deliveries to restaurants are by bicycle or motor cycle. This motorcycle has a load of fresh meat in the back for the morning delivery.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Honey Puff

IMG_0185, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Right next to the meat on the stick grille was this franchised snack store. A honey puff is a small ball of dough like a donut hole but a lot lighter. They had several different flavors and the ones we had were sweet and honey flavored.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Meat On The Street

IMG_0187, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

I was determined to eat food from a street vendor even if I couldn't talk my wife or fellow travelers to. Right next to the McDonalds were several store front vendors of different dishes. The one that kept catching my eye was the kabob or satay vendor that always seemed to have a crowd.

His booth was dingy and grease stained but the meat always smelled good and there was usually a line. There was no seating indoors or outdoors, so people would just get their skewers and stand on the sidewalk and eat them right off a plastic plate. The finished bamboo skewers would be thrown into a nearby trashcan or just dropped on the sidewalk for the street cleaners to sweep up the next day.

Meat On A Stick

IMG_0186, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

The meat on a stick vendor had two different bins. Stuff from the first bin sat in a little tub of hot water and I couldn't tell if the skewer was meat or not. Some of them may have been mushrooms or vegetables. Those skewers cost 1yuan (15 cents) each. I had three of them and none were particularly tasty.

The bigger grille had losts of skewers of meat satay or kabob style. To reheat the meat, the cook held it down in the grille in front of some sort of electric heater for a while. These sticks cost 3 yuan (about 40 cents) and were very tasty. The meat was very firm but not stringy and covered in a reddish spicy rub.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Fried Dough

IMG_3874, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Back in the alley neighborhoods called hutongs, there are a wide variety of food vendors. This store sells fried dough. It tastes a lot like the funnel cakes you would find at a fair, but without any powdered sugar all over.

Best of all, it was super-cheap. Each piece only costs 50 yuan (about 6 cents). It was a very filling if slightly bland morning snack.

Bad Eggs

IMG_3892, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Food safety in China has been in the news a lot lately. Many people still get meals from small restaurants and stalls in their local neighborhood. Air conditioning and refrigeration are not common.

This stack of eggs was just outside such a vendor. I don't know how much volume they do, but that is a lot of eggs to be just sitting in an alley. The plate next to the eggs was a dog dish for the owner's pet.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Home Grown Fast Food

IMG_3729, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

The concept of franchises is evolving quickly in China. This very new building looks to be one store in a chain specializing in soup. If it weren't for the entirely Chinese signage, it wouldn't be out of place in a US outparcel.

Breakfast Menu

IMG_3804, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

This is the window menu of a Chinese fast food chain. All the items are for breakfast and each costs about a dollar. The choices include at least two soups, which is a meal anytime in China.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Mickey Dees

IMG_0188, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

McDonalds runs a distant second in the imperial franchise wars. The stores are as brightly lit and squeaky clean as their US counterparts. The posters in the window are for a fruit float drink.dessert that isn't available in the US. They have ice cream and one of four flavors, coffee, strawberry, pineapple, and watermelon.

Special Sauce

P1000860, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

The China version of a Quarter Pounder (and I have no idea what they call it since they are metric) is very similar to the American version with two differences. The special sauce is not mayo-based and is much spicier. Also, instead of pickles, they use sliced raw cucumber.