where in the world… (part 5)?

are viv + i?
ni hao ma… (again)” this time from beijing, china!

having aready been to the southwestern part of china, we had an opportunity this time to visit the northeastern part… the capital of china:  beijing (a.k.a. “peking” or “the forbidden city“).

ni hao ma... welcome to "the great wall of china"!

to be honest, i really wasn’t looking forward to going. i was hoping we could rest/stay longer in hong kong before our next scheduled trip to japan.
but having gone, all i can say is: (besides being mind-numbingly COLD…) beijing ROCKED!
of course, vivien was responsible for this (as she has/is/will continue to be the reason all things in my life ROCK :))!  it was awesome seeing her switch gears from speaking cantonese to mandarin. she navigated us through the streets as if we were locals! what an incredible skill it is to be multi-lingual!
**SIDE NOTE: upon our return, i’m gonna get miss rosetta stone and learn some mandarin (maybe i’ll also have to look into mandy and pandy)! as is evident, china will continue to develop its global presence and will be a (if not “the“) dominant presence/force in the next 10-25 years. and Lord willing, we hope to return (and hopefully i’ll be fluent in mandarin!).**

upon arrival, i really wasn’t sure what to expect. i remember being somewhat fearful of beijing/china. growing up as an army brat and having lived in germany before “the wall” came down, i remember when watching tv shows, instead of regular commercials pitching consumerproducts, we had to watch 30 second u.s. military spots on the evils of communism + to be wary of foreign enemies of the u.s. i guess this had a lasting influence on me, but ultimately it was irrelevant and unnecessary. what i found was that there was just so much to see/witness and experience in beijing! and the people…? they were SOOO kind and willing to help. it blew me away how warm they were (and how much they SPIT… and coming from a spitter like me, that’s saying A LOT)!
we started with tiananmen square. we were on the same street where history was made about 20 years ago! i remember every tv station in the world played and replayed the lone man in white standing up to the row of tanks coming down the street. weird to think how much has changed since then…
and with the government’s censorship/effort to block details of this tragic event, we were told by locals that many of today’s younger chinese don’t even recognize who is + the significance of “the tank man” and what transpired during the fateful summer of 1989.

the forbidden city in tiananmen square!

we proceeded to enter the forbidden city –  imperial palace from the ming dynasty to the end of the qing dynasty (roughly 5 centuries!). it was declared a world heritage site in 1987, and listed by unesco as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world… another words, this place was MASSIVE!


entering the inner courts...

we strolled a few blocks over to a very happening street with shops galore! even saw a joint korea-china venture lotte shopping mall. after being numbed by store after store, we decided to head a few blocks to the famous wángfujing night market…
now THIS is what beijing is about!

not the fastest rickshaw, but the driver was ALWAYS smiling... 🙂

viv joining some friends welcoming all to the wangfujing night market...

right as we entered the initial entrance gate we were greeted by: live scorpions + seahorses (why aren’t there any good live scorpions + seahorses joint in seattle?!?! or for that matter… good pig brains?!?!)!

who wants some fresh seahorses + scorpions?!?? YUM!!!

poor things... they didn't know what hit them from behind (PS - it was the tip of a skewer)...

i mean... seriously... eating seahorses?! look how cute these lil' guys look!

when in china…

vivien "the scorpion destroyer" ng...

got a chance to visit the summer palace (a summer resort for empress dowager cixi. a “summer resort“?!?! zaang! ballaz! either that or the emperor got caught doing something bad…). sorry viv, the best summer palace i can offer is shared communal usage of the gazeebo @ greenlake! 😉

viv welcoming you to her... i mean... "the" summer palace.

viv + i noticed the striking resemblance between this famous (and incredible good-looking) buddha and i...

saw both the jinyuan (largest in china) + the place mall (which boasts the world’s largest lcd tv @ over 6,000 sq. m.! beats this kid’s setup hands down!):

i'm thinking viv got the hint what i want for christmas! 😉

after eating scorpions + seahorses, we decided to splurge on dinner @ the BALLA green t house!

but none of the shopping malls in beijing (or anywhere in the world for that matter) compared to the experience we had at the infamous: silk street market! this place was WILD!
packed inside this 5 floor building (including a basement), were more little booths/shops than you could imagine or your brain could even process. the place was SO cramped with shops and each shopkeepers wanted your money! you literally couldn’t walk more than 3-4 feet before being swarmed, grabbed at, pulled and mauled by the shopkeepers.
now… if you can handle this kind of thing (which i really can’t), then this IS your place to bargain and get some cool stuff. and we were so lucky to have a family friend of viv’s come along. he had a reputation of making shopkeepers cry and angry (and sometimes both) with his bargaining skills.
his rules of bargaining?
1. NEVER give or reveal your price until the shopkeeper guesses it and
2. do NOT bargain unless you’re serious about buying it.
thanks to him viv + i have a ridiculously cheap priced north face backpacks (which will come in handy in new zealand + australia)! sure it says, “the morth face” but who cares…  😉

mutianyu – a section of the great wall. truly an awe-inspiring moment to step foot on this landmark! because it was so cold, viv + i almost had the great wall to ourselves for the entire day. during the peak summer seasons, there are scores and scores of visitors there and nearly impossible to take a picture w/o having some step in front of the camera. another cool feature of mutianyu, they have a toboggan ride you can take down to the visitor’s base area… definitely worth taking!

viv welcoming you to the "mutianyu" great wall of china!

almost there... just another 5 minutes...

this shows how whooped we felt after climbing all the stairs... and it was MORE than "just another 5 mins"!!!

viv finding out the huskies won the apple cup. oh yeah... and that we were at the great wall!

after climbing to the top of the wall, what better way to get down than via toboggan... WHEE!

and what would a visit to beijing be without seeing the architectural marvels of the olympic park?

at the entrance of the beijing olympic park...

running to the bird's nest (with my "the morth face" backpack)!

michael phelps, michael schpelps! look at that perfect form!

and some more random pics of our amazing beijing adventure:

how cool is that? our hotel reminded us what day of the week it was!

pretty much all of asia's got the public transporation thing down pat...

nothing beats sweet potaterz (in the best slingblade voice) from street vendors!

mah-johng being played in the streets by the locals... the grandmas were the most brutal playaz!

ah-ha! the key to eating mickey-d's + staying slim = ride your bike there!

a typical night (and day for that matter) in downtown beijing = TONS of traffic!

zai jian 再见 (for now)…

for more reading:
– where in the world… (part 4)
– where in the world… (part 3)
– where in the world… (part 2)
– where in the world… (part 1)