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!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToRizgK1xLo&w=600]

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

about 15 groups dancing at the corner of a street. I really wonder how this works and if a complete stranger can just go and join them.

They have all types of music too — modern western, classical Chinese, tango, you name it. Some of them came dressed up to dance and each group has their own boom boxes. So you can imagine there is a festive air to the place.

This feels so strange to me but I can see that the Chinese sure had fun doing this. To me this is like a western take on tai chi.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USUJH4lpS9s&w=600]

On meals, our host did take good care of us for lunch. Since it was a working day, I did not think its appropriate to take my camera along. But I wished I did.

A couple of the lunches were in the food court at the basement of the building. It was a setup I had never seen before. They have a big cafeteria area and a separate section where you order dishes like a regular restaurant. It is like a section for the workers and another for the manager. The food was good.

Another day, we were brought to a restaurant for Peking Duck. It was not one of the Quan Ju De or Da Dong big name Peking Duck places. The peking duck was about $20 only and they serve this in like 3 courses — just three separate ways to serve the carved duck. They carved the duck in front of us.

Our best meal was at the hot pot restaurant. It was simply the most amazing hot pot meal I had as it is so much more advanced compared to what we had seen in Vancouver. They think of every small thing. Firstly they gave us aprons to wear. They even give those of us with glasses a micro fibre cloth to clean out glasses! Since there were quite a number of Americans on our table, the waitress did all the cooking for us — which was great! We tipped her handsomely after the lunch and she was so afraid to accept the money. She kept looking at her supervisor but we insisted that she has the permission to take it. She had good technique in cooking the meat, knowing precisely how each type of meat is to be cooked. So I did learn a bit. BTW, the condiments are free and there is a huge spread of it. You will love that. Too bad I don’t have any pictures to show you.

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The only pictures I had to show you for last week are the ones I had for dinner. While my friends were lounging and dining in the hotel, I went out and looked for a restaurant. I wanted to go for some spicy food.

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English is barely spoken in Beijing. You can assume that taxi drivers and restaurant workers do not speak English and if you come across one that does, it is a rarity rather than the norm.

I can get by in restaurants but at least I wanted to make sure that they either have picture menu or an English version of the menu. Most restaurants have nice picture menus and so that helped a lot.

Oh one thing about ordering here. After they hand you the menu, they will stand by your side and wait to take your order. Pressure!! Seems like the Chinese customers place their order very fast. For people like us, we prefer to take our time to peruse it and take our time to discuss what we wanted.

The other thing is that they don’t by default bring you drinks (like they do in Vancouver where they will serve you tea). I gotta ask for it. There was once when I asked for drinks, the waitress told me “but you have soup already”. Yeah … but … but … but … it is not the same.

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The food in China is so cheap that I could just order anything off the menu without really thinking about if I can afford it. Many dishes are like $4-$5 Canadian. Any dishes that are $10 is considered one of the more expensive offering. So, you can really eat well with $20 Canadian for sure.

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I ordered this fish off the picture on the menu. I don’t really know what fish it is. When it was served it was bubbly hot. The dish was kept warm with a flame burning underneath it.

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I enjoyed this dish. The fish was fresh and quite meaty. The jhup is basically all oil. The spiciness was not overly hot at the onset but it does slowly build up as I ate along.

What I like best is their peppercorn. It has a different kind of crunch to it like it had been crushed and deep fried first.

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This pork looked so good on the menu. And it did look great when served.

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But then it was way too salty for me. I took just two pieces of it and then left it untouched. This meal was about $12 Canadian with the fish the more expensive one.

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Oh … the above are what I bought from a chain bakery called BreadTalk. I see them in many places and they have great bread. The above and the one below were awesome. ‘

These are just $1 Canadian each. I love the amount of pork floss they have. One would have thought that since there is so much pork floss it would have been dry. No. Instead it was quite moist and made my fingers quite greasy eating it.

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I wish I could get you some because I know you would love this. I wonder if this will survive a 24 hour journey home.

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One of the mornings, I walked out to the street where there was someone who was selling the meat filled fried bread. I don’t know what it is called.

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This is just 50 cents Canadian. All greasy but delicious. They were selling this like hotcakes where people were buying them off the griddle where they were frying them off from. So it was all hot and hard to handle. Yeah, like the rest of the people eating this, the first thing they did was to blow them to cool it down.

This Post Has 14 Comments

    1. Hehehe … BreadTalk is from Singapore? Anyway, it is awesome and I so wish we have it in Vancouver. Ben

  1. Oh dear god how I miss the food in China *drools*

  2. I like BreadTalk’s Hokkaido Dome also, it’s light and sweet with a crispy topping.

    Some locals have said to me that the food costs less to match up with their salary– since some people do not earn as much, the food costs less to compensate.

  3. I don’t know about you guys, but IMO bakeries in China (or more generally, in Asia) are way better than bakeries in North America!

  4. When I was in Beijing for 6 months, I get around by taxis using different type of papers with places wrote from internet web to go. I just show driver places like Gold Street or San Li Tun Snow to them and they take me there no problem. Never need to speak to them at all.

  5. Awww, Ben, this trip looks like a lot of fun — or at least a lot of tastiness — even if the work part of the day is exhausting.

    Maybe I should check with friends and see if I can find you even more suggestions so I can live vicariously through your photos… 🙂

  6. Wow, you found some great food. I was looking for pastry when I was in Shanghai. I didn’t find much. One bakery I found smelled so bad, like a chicken rendering plant, that I had to leave. I don’t think they used butter but some form of animal fat.

  7. China is full of fakes… I won’t trust the quality and ethics are questionable all for the pursuit of money.

    Funny thing is they are so proud of it with their “Made in China” labels. They do no prosecute their hackers (too close to military ties).

    China is synonymous with bad quality and biggest bullies in the world.

    Just look at the UBC Hospice protest. They think money can do anything.

    1. While I don’t think China is the most innocent country in the world and they have had their share of questionable policies, I think you are being way too extreme. Other countries aren’t guilt-free in being bullies.

      If you really have a problem with “Made In China” things, try not buying ANYTHING that’s made in China then. I wonder if that’s even possible nowadays.

    2. Hi Jerry: You do seems to have a lot of different issue with China. 🙂 It seems like you have been gobbling up all the negative press about China. But there are a lot of good coming from the country. China is not an evil country out to dominate the world or invade countries. There are a lot going for China but for sure it is not a perfect country. You got to be there to see it for yourself. Let’s face it … whether you like it or not, and for good or bad … China’s rise cannot be ignored. Their progress is staggering and is historically unparalleled. I can feel the buzz in the country. The world we know it today will likely change in the years to come by this. Like I said, go to China and see it for yourself with an open mind. And yes, my biggest issue with China is the unscrupulous people who taint the food. China will right this over time I am sure. You have to remember that China is basically still a third world country. My two cents. Respectfully. Ben

      1. Very fair words Ben.

        You should always look at both sides of the story.

        1. You know, Elaine. When I was still in Beijing, the complain from Google indirectly accusing the Chinese government of email phishing attack on gmail. I thought that was an unfair accusation given that email phishing happens everyday from every country. Moreover phishing attack is targeted to, shall I say, stupid people who thinks next to nothing about clicking links on emails. Google even went on to say that “some govt official” were targeted. Come on … if the govt official were using gmail to conduct the affairs of the nation and clicking on links, they deserved to be hacked. That statement from Google was meant to up the ante to put the fear of China in American minds. I know there are naive people in the world who gobbles up these nonsensical news thinking that only China could conduct cyber espionage. The best and brightest minds in cyber espionage does not reside in China. You and I know where there are. So what is the problem? I thought Google’s statement was thoroughly unfair and is targeted to the naive people who wants to swallow these sort of nonsense. My two cents. 🙂 Yeah, some people will have problems with what I am saying but am open to a healthy and open minded discussion. Ben

  8. Glad you had this trip in my hometown and enjoyed it. I am jealous :p. I know it might be kinda late now to show you this website, and I am also not sure if you can read Chinese or not(you can type pinyin to search, or maybe it’s time to learn some Chinese? LOL), but just in case you will go to China again, use this http://www.dianping.com/citylist as your foodie guidance. The website called “Da Zhong Dian Ping” which means reviews from the people, it has reviews for restaurants, KTVs, SPAs and all the entertainment places in the major cities of China.

    I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and love your postings very much. Never left any reply until I saw your postings about Beijing, they remind me home a lot, missing everything over there. Thank you for all the postings and keep up the good work!

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