First Day In Beijing

Hey Honey:

I can’t believe it had been a week already since I landed again in Beijing. Time sure flies, especially when it been so busy everyday.

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The flight on Air China was rather uncomfortable. I had the window seat but there is nothing to see out the window. The entire flight is in darkness! The flight left Vancouver on schedule at 3:00 AM and arrived a little earlier than 5:45 AM in Beijing. Hehehe … sound like a 3 hour flight huh?

That flight was 11 hours long. I did not sleep much because the seat were so uncomfortable. The entertainment system was so archaic that I don’t even want to watch any movies at all. When you come over to visit me, remember NOT to fly Air China!

The food was just so-so. You get a choice of either Chinese or western. I went with Chinese. Quite edible but I did not even finish half of it. Anyway, it was just too much food for a 11 hour flight.

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The Beijing Capital International Airport was rather quiet when I landed. Which was a good thing because I was kind of worried because I had so much luggage and had to jostle with the people who don’t respect lines. Good thing there was NO lines at all.

When you get to Beijing, here is what you do. Follow everyone to the immigration counter and line up behind the line that says “Foreigners”. The immigration officers here are much friendlier, so no worries there. They don’t talk much, nor did they ask me any questions. You then get on a train which brings you to another terminal where you pick up your luggage (if you have any checked in). And then you go out to through the green lane of customs. Easy. I will wait for you outside the customs.

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This is the service apartment I am staying for the next few months. You will … Continue reading

Going To China, Finally

I had been flying here and there for the last little while … everywhere but China. LOL! It’s too complicated to explain. There were a number of things that took a little lot longer than everyone anticipated.

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But I am finally in the YVR airport. With all my bags packed and all.

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One of the things that made things took so long was that I had problems with … Continue reading

Appetizers for Lunch

Of late, this is what I am so addicted to.

But I am not gonna tell you where I had this. I want to see if any of you can make a good guess.

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This is called Pork Slices in Garlic Spicy Sauce. Or at least I think this is what it is called. I had this so many times, I am not sure anymore.

The waitress already know me and she knows that I order this ALL THE TIME. What I am sure is that it is called #7. Every time I walked in, I just smiled at her and just say “#7 and 1 bowl of rice”.

For some reason they don’t … Continue reading

I Can’t Stand Red Jelly Bellies

I like Jelly Bellies.

I munch them while at work.

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What I hate most is the red ones. Actually it is the Very Cherry flavoured ones that I can’t stand. The red ones could also be Red Apple and Cinnamon. So instead of accidentally eat the Very Cherry one, I pick them out.

I want to throw them away because no one else in the family wants it too. But then Suanne can’t stand to throw them away because she is just being who she is. So she keeps all the red ones in a Tupperware. If anyone wants red ones, you know who to get it from.

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What is your favourite flavours?

I like the Caramel Corn, the Buttered Popcorn, the Grape Jelly and especially the … Continue reading

50 Most Delicious Food In The World: Have You Tried Them All?

CNN published an article of the World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods a few days ago. That article caused a bit of news in Malaysia because the Assam Laksa landed on spot #7.

And true to form, this sort of things rankled Singapore. Both Malaysia and Singapore had a bit of an exchange over the press on why Singapore’s Chili Crab (ranked #35) and Chicken Rice (#45) is ranked lower than the Assam Laksa (see here).

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Frankly, although this is fun to read, I won’t take this list very seriously. While some of the food listed deserves recognition, there are some that is rather dubious. In particular, … Continue reading

Weekend Musings: Addictions

I have been busy. Real busy like you do not believe it. Life had been pretty much consumed by “China” ever since I was landed right smack in the middle of the new project. As much as I want to be positive and say that work will tone down to normal levels soon, the truth is it will stay at this heightened level for some time. I had kept insane working hours, at times starting at 4AM in the morning. With teams working on Beijing, London, Hong Kong, Atlanta and with me alone directing the project right at the edge of timezone, I do feel like I am working around the clock on some days.

And the travelling is not helping too. I am down to working two weeks a month in London and Beijing until the end of this year. Just yesterday, I got an email asking me to consider being based in Beijing until the end of the year! But work had been exciting. All these came about when I managed to pull off a particularly difficult delivery two weeks ago and my just reward was emails floating around that I could bring some other distressed areas of the program back on track … “he needs to be there, get him there” was what people are saying.

So I really do need to juggle my priorities. Chowtimes is one of them that gets relegated to the lower rungs. Although writing by itself does not take much time and Suanne helps greatly doing up the pictures, I need the creative juices flowing to wring. You know how I write my posts? I compose posts in my mind throughout the day, like while driving or walking. By the time I sits down at the computer, I already know what I want to say and can hack away at a post in a short time. But these days, my mind is dominated by work matters alone.

So what does it mean? As much as I hate to say it but with work and travelling, it is nearly impossible for me to keep up the level of writing I want.  I don’t want to stop writing. No sir. So, the best I could do is to change how I write and what I write about. Chowtimes is about food and travel. Chowtimes is about sharing the life of Ben and Suanne. That will not change. What will change will perhaps be that the posts will be lighter.

Let’s see how things will evolve. I am on forced vacation next week (boss says to take the week off because I still have 20 days of vacations banked) and so will attempt to write next week.

Today, I want to speak of my latest addictions.

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For the past couple of months, we had not been exploring new restaurants. Since we had so many posts yet not written and that I can’t even find time to write, there is no point going to new places.

Instead, we went to our favourite places and much nearby home. That pleases Nanzaro and Arkensen a lot. One of the restaurants we had gone back to several times is the Szechuan Delicious restaurant. We like that place because it is inexpensive and there are much more to discover on their menu.

One of the dishes we are utterly addicted to is the dish above. Remember the popular Sichuan appetizer dish called “saliva chicken”? Well, we like this version of the same dish using “beef tripe”. We love the crunchiness of the tripe and the same spiciness of the chili sauce. This is awesome.

I have not come across this version in other restaurants and just wonder if it is commonly found in other Sichuan restaurants. If you like “saliva chicken”, you will probably like this too. BTW, the name “saliva chicken” is my preferred translation over “mouth-watering chicken”. 🙂

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My other addition is this one above. I have to blame grayelf for introducing this to me.

She introduced this in a recent dinner I had with Sherman, Karl and Angie. If you like … Continue reading

Little Sheep Hot Pot in Beijing

Hi Honey:

It was what I call a productive day. I took a couple of hours nap at the hotel after a full day of roaming around Beijing. The day started very early at about 7AM and by the time I got back at 4PM, I had covered the Beihai Park, the Lama Temple, the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower.

Surprisingly I did not sleep long. I think I was beginning to get used to long days on the feet. For dinner that day, I took a 10 minutes walk from the hotel to the Little Sheep Hot Pot.

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It is the familiar logo, isn’t it? We have a Little Sheep Hot Pot in Richmond and I had even blogged about it here. One thing I find puzzling is that while in China, this chain hot pot restaurant is called Little Sheep while the restaurant in Richmond is called Mongolian Hot Pot. The Chinese name and the logo remain the same too.

This green round logo is so familiar too. There were quite a number of Little Sheep restaurants in Beijing. They all look high end and expensive looking, unlike the one we have in Richmond which was just so-so.

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Yeah, I was kind of worried not knowing what to expect. The restaurant was quite posh. It is certainly one of the more fancier hot pot restaurants I had been to. Everything is sparkling clean. It looked like an expensive setting.

The menu was exciting. It was unlike the small 1-2 pager menu we have in Vancouver. It is like … Continue reading

The Bell Tower and Drum Tower of Beijing

Hi Honey:

I got scammed. I remember reading about it online but it just did not click until it was too late … or kind of too late.

After the Lama Temple, I was thinking about where to go have something to eat. After walking so much around the Beihai Park and Lama Temple, I also needed somewhere to have a proper seat down too with a cool drink or something.

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It was then I remember a lot of people I spoke to recommend that I go to Houhai (the “Rear Sea”) because they have a lot of eateries. My friends at work too told me how great it is and how I must definitely go. Then the Beijing folks I work with the week earlier also recommend the same place. And finally, I remember a rickshaw puller who approached me a few days ago also offered to take me there.

So without hesitation, I hailed a cab for a short ride there.

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When I told the cab driver to drop me off at “Houhai” and I want to “chi dongxi” (eat something), he dropped me off on … Continue reading

Yonghe Temple: The Largest Tibetan Monasteries in the World

Hey Honey:

From the Beihai Park, I took a cab to the Lama Temple. Since it was mentioned as a must-see place in the guidebook where they devoted two pages to this place, I thought I go check it out. The guidebook did not mention about the size of the temple and so I thought it would be a small compound. I did not realize it was actually the size of a small palace.

Moreover, I was curious about this place because of the word Tibetan in the name. I do not know much about the Tibetan history in the context of China’s history. I know a lot of people are against Tibet being part of China but I do also know that for hundreds of years, Tibet had long association with China in one way or another.

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The taxi driver dropped me off on the main street. There were a lot of shops selling Buddhist prayer paraphernalia, like 90% of the shops here sells Buddhism related things. A lot of them sells joss sticks. There were a number of Buddhist monks around in their yellow robes who garnered quite a lot of respect from the people there. Many of the monks do look like they are Tibetans with their darker complexion and weather worn faces.

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Entrance was 25 RMB ($4 Canadian) and the audio guide was … Continue reading

Beihai Park: The 1000 Year Old Imperial Garden of the Forbidden City

Hey honey:

This is the third day of my real vacation in Beijing. It is a Monday. I was mindful of this as this is a working day. I figure that today would be the day where the tourists spots are going to be a lot more quieter. This is unlike the previous two weekend days. So I was looking forward to a more relaxed and slow day.

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So I got out of the hotel a little earlier today. It was just past 7:00 AM. I wanted to take the time to have breakfast and to read about the sightseeing for the day. Yeah, I was winging it for this trip. If you recall, I had just less than two days notice to come to Beijing and how quickly you got the guide books for me from the library. For this day, my aim was to visit the Beihai park.

People do seems to start work very early here. Even at this early an hour, a lot of people were already out and about streaming in and out of the subway station. I walked a little past the subway station because I had seen a few small local restaurants there. True enough, they were opened and they were deep frying things outside the restaurant. Lots of people were there getting something for work.

Since I did not know how to order, I had to wait for an opening when they were quieter. Everyone seems to be in the rush and I was kind of afraid to get in their way.

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They have a big bucket of tofufa or at least that is what I think it is. Hehehe, I tried to hide the fact I know little Mandarin and just said “Geh woh yi wan, xie xie” which simply means “give me a bowl, thank you”. And then she asked me something which I could not understand and so I just said “how lah” which means “OK”. I guessed then she was asking me if … Continue reading