The Hotel I Stayed In Beijing

Hey honey:

I want to tell you about the hotel I stayed in. In all my business travels, I must say I was most impressed with this one that my company’s travel services booked me into.

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I was kind of worried to tell the truth when I first checked into the hotel when I was told that I have a reservation for the executive suite and that it is $300 a day. Already a $300 a day room in the US is quite a bit of money for a room night but in Beijing, this is a princely sum.

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Needless to say, service was superb. They directed me to a sofa to wait and served me tea. Then the front desk manager (not just any bell boy) personally walked me to the room. So I was thinking … Continue reading

My Other Work Days

Hey Honey:

Last week was almost all about work and no play. Besides dealing with the jet lag (a 9 hour time zone difference), the meetings can be described as a roller coaster ride. There were days where agreements were easier to come by and there are testy moments. Am just glad we managed to get to all the agenda items by Friday and agreed to a way forward.

So by the time I got back to the hotel, there were more internal team meetings to recap the day before we broke up by about 6:30 PM. So you can imagine how long the day is. My American team members prefer to lounge in the comfortable confines of the hotel but me, I wanted to get out and absorb as much as I can of the life in Beijing.

One of the days, I walked across the pedestrian bridge spanning the main road and found this!

This is just so amazing. What you see here is just one of …

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Oatmeal Zucchini Loaf

In the South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors, we sometimes made extra food for the seniors to take home. This is a hearty and healthful bread for breakfast. It is dense and solid.

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This recipe is a great recipe to use up the zucchini from the garden. It is a good way to sneak in some vegetables for family with kids who claim that they are allergic to vegetables.

This is a very hearty bread full of goodness from the roll oats, nuts, zucchini and cranberries.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup quick rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • turbinado sugar for sprinkling (optional)

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Source: Marian

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Lemon Crunch Cup Cake

Marian selected a Lemon Crunch Cup Cake for dessert for this session at the South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors. We adapted the recipe not to include the topping for a more healthier dessert for the seniors.

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This Lemon Crunch Cup Cake is fluffy and the lemon zest adds citrusy flavour to the cup cake.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup chopped walnut (optional)
  • grated rind from 2 lemons or oranges

Topping

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon or orange

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Source: Marian

Yield 12 cup cakes

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From Garden to Dining Table

For this South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors kitchen, we were delighted to have fresh vegetables harvested from the community garden at South Arm Community Center. This community garden is managed by some seniors and some high school student volunteers.

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These vegetables were grew in the late fall and they had survived through the winter in the make shift green house. There is very little maintenance needed during the winter, just some weeding.

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Stella, the seniors coordinator of South Arm Community Group is seen here harvesting some kale from the garden. Kale grows well into the winter. It does not need any covering during the winter months.

Kale has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is rich with beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin K and calcium.

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Besides kale, Stella also harvested bok choy and lettuces from the garden. Marian planned her recipes to include all these wonderful harvest.

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The seniors were seen here busy cleaning and preparing the vegetables for a nutritious lunch.

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For the lettuces, the seniors made a Thai Chicken Salad.

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The seniors made a Lentil Soup with Tomatoes and Kale and some Kale Chips with the harvested kale.

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For the bok choy, the seniors make a quick stir fry with garlic, oyster sauce and sesame oil. Nothing beats the freshness from the garden harvest. There were some leftover vegetables which were donated to the Richmond Food Bank.

Danny’s Wun Tun Restaurant at Ironwood Plaza, Richmond

Ben was too involved in his work that he has no time to write of his experience in Beijing. He will be back next week with more travel and good eats. So, at the meantime, I will fill in for a few days.

I went to Danny’s Wun Tun Restaurant with Arkensen while Ben was in Beijing. Nanzaro did not want to come along as he was dead tired coming back from a 3 days 2 nights camp. I want to get the boys out even though Ben is not here. It’s quality time that we spend together during such meals.

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I picked Danny’s Wun Tun Restaurant because it’s the nearest Chinese restaurant to our home. Without Ben, I will not be able to convince the boys to go further. It’s strange that we have not blog about this place. It’s so near and they had won the Best Chinese Restaurant award for the local news paper many times. We had eaten here a few times before, just did not blog about it because we did not have our camera with us during those impromptu visits.

I remembered someone commented that Danny’s Wun Tun Restaurant is one of the pioneer Chinese restaurant in Richmond. It used to be located at the Szechuan Delicious Restaurant location across Richmond center. This location has great history with previous tenants like Chen’s ShanghaiShanghai WonderfulShanghai RiverDa Hong Yun and Shanghai JJ.

Someone also commented that Danny’s Wun Tun Restaurant is a popular restaurant among the police officers. In fact, we had seen two police officers dining at the Danny’s Wun Tun Restaurant while we were there once.

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Arkensen commented that the restaurant is bigger than he expected. From the outside, it does not look as big. It seats at least 50 with some round tables that can accommodate bigger group. This is a Chinese BBQ restaurant. The BBQ station is located at the entrance. At the back of the restaurant, there is a noodle station with see through glass partition.

While we were there, we noticed that there are more Caucasian and other Asian customers than Chinese customers. There are also a lot of delivery orders and take out.

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I wanted to order a BBQ duck noodle in soup but they ran out of BBQ duck. So, I ordered a wonton noodle in soup instead since this is a Wun Tun restaurant. It is only … Continue reading

Working in Beijing

Hi Honey:

The first two days of work was grueling. There were so many agenda items to cover and there are a lot of missing information that it was a lot of to and fro on issues. It is to be expected since the teams met for the first time. Both parties have their own interests and goals and so we just need to take one issue at a time and work through every one of them.

Cultural differences is in the way a little bit but not too much. It is the language fluency that is something most of us struggled with. I felt the Chinese had difficulties in expressing themselves in English but they sure are experts in their field. I am actually impressed with their technical knowledge of the subject matter.

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My mornings started with breakfast at the 24th Floor Club. I’ll tell you more about the 24th Floor later. There is a very nice view from the Club and I almost always sat at the same spot that faces the CCTV Tower. Look at the traffic jams below. There is a jam every peak hour.

We took a taxi ride to the office which is quite a bit of distance from where I am staying. On a good day, the journey takes 25 minutes but mostly it is 40-45 minutes because of the traffic.

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We always drive past the CCTV building everyday. See that building next to the CCTV building? Well, that whole building burnt down and they are in the process of rebuilding it.

It is both sad and hilarious. You see … Continue reading

Exploring South of Tiananmen

Hi Honey:

It’s actually already Wednesday morning right now. The past two days at work was grueling to say the least. So yesterday when I got back to the hotel, I had a quick dinner and crashed. Just got up at 5AM. Had a good sleep. :-) Yesterday I had dinner at this Kung Fu Fast Food place that many people were telling me about. It was awesome — simple goodness and it is soooo cheap. I’ll tell you more about it later.

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I’ll just continue to tell you about the what happened on Sunday … and picking up from the visit to the National Museum of China (above).

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It was after 3:00 PM already when I got out. I wanted to head to the … Continue reading

A Sunday On My Own: Roots

Hi All: Sorry about this but I just wanted to write this post with Suanne in mind. Somehow I felt everything I wanted to say is for her. It also makes it easier to write what is on my mind. So if you want to continue to read this, you don’t have to pretend you are Suanne. Just pretend you are eavesdropping on us and then if you want to chime in with a comment or two, please feel free. :-)

Hey honey:

I must have been so dead tired and I did not realize it. It was Sunday, my second day in Beijing. This is a free day for me and I wanted to make full use of it. Actually the whole idea for me to arrive in Beijing on Saturday is so that I can have at least 1-2 days to deal with the jetlag before a series of meetings start on  Monday.

I was woken up by my team members at 9:30 AM in the morning when they called my room saying “Hey Ben, are you coming with us?” They wanted to go to the Jade Market and the Forbidden City. Since I just woke up, I needed to have time on my own to deal with some matters and told them to just go ahead and I’ll probably catch up with them later on.

Frankly I wanted to go on my own. Sometimes it sucks going in a group and you wanted to see something and others wanted to see something else … or I wanted to spend more time in one area and they did not. Done that before and so I prefer to just go on my own.

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LOL! My executive suite had what they call Club Floor Privileges on the 24th floor. Free breakfast and I reckon it is nothing to sniff at. I was not interested. Instead I am hell bent on eating where Beijingers eat.

So after settling my stuff, I walked across the street from the hotel and just went into a restaurant. It is weird. The moment I walked in I hear a lot of people speaking in Cantonese. And then I saw Bolo Bau on some of the tables … and also milk tea. Since I could not read Chinese, I did not realize it is a HK Style Cafe.

Well, guess what I got. Bolo Bau (Pineapple Bun) just like everyone. They normally sell this at a pair at 13 RMB which is like just $1.00 Canadian each. I told the lady … Continue reading

My First Day in Beijing

Hi Honey:

Oh how I wish you are here today with me. Been going around Beijing for the past two days and all I think of is how delighted you will be experiencing what I had been seeing the past couple of days. Exploring China and Beijing is something we should be doing together.

For all I care, this is the first time I am in China. Being in Shenzhen so many years ago for just a day trip from Hong Kong doesn’t count. This one is the real trip.

I am surprised I can blend in more than I thought I could. That is until I open my mouth. For the most part, I get along better speaking English and pretending not to speak Mandarin at all than if I were to try to speak my weird Mandarin. LOL!

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At the airport, I wanted to be adventurous to take the subway to the hotel. It is so cheap. Each use of the subway regardless of the distance is just 2 RMB which is like 30 cents! Can you believe that? LOL! Actually it is a bit more expensive taking the subway from the airport to the city. There is a surcharge. But at 30 cents, it is so ridiculously cheap. I keep wondering why a two zone transit in Vancouver is, what, $3.50?

Actually, good thing I decided not to take the train. It is super crowded and it is unbelievably packed. I won’t be able to make it with my luggage and all. So I decided to take a taxi.

At the taxi stand, people does not respect lines. For the most part people does but a few bad apples could ruin everything. Anyway getting a taxi is easy at the airport. And yes, people smoke in the public. So I know you will hate it.

My taxi driver was a chatty man. I tried to speak to him in Mandarin and we got along quite well. He was patient when I tell him once every two minute “Woh Bu Min Bai” (I don’t understand). When I told him that I am Canadian and that my family left China about 120 years ago, he told me that I am a “Wah Qiao” (Overseas Chinese). He asked me which province I was from and so I told him that mum and dad are Fujianese. The one thing I did not expect to hear from him was that China will “take me home” if ever I get into trouble … giving me the example how Chinese in Libya was rescued. It was a strange feeling to hear that, although from a taxi driver.

The past two days made me think about my heritage as a Chinese and how all these fits togther. I had never considered myself as a true Chinese and for sure I had never felt any allegiance to the country of China. But in my muddled mind right now, there are a lot of questions for sure.

The picture above was taken just a block away from my hotel. It is the CCTV HQ building, I think. Amazing structure! I sure don’t want to work in the section of the building where there is nothing below. Next door to this was a all burnt out building. LOL! I remember reading about how they had a fireworks celebration and light up the building … and ended up burning it down!

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After having a shower, it was already about 3:00 PM. I decided to walk around the block to get some food. I wasn’t really hungry but my first act has to be food.

There were a LOT of eating places of all types. Fancy ones, run down ones, food court, fast food type … they are everywhere. I am not kidding … Continue reading